Chunky Turtle Monkey Love Bars

“Was that banana?”

Went the first question from everyone who’d tried these, once they unglued their mouths enough to ask. Next:

“I’m getting caramel… nuttiness… chocolate…”

Sounds almost like we were tasting vintage wines. To their credit, it was dark in the bar where we sat. Half turtle bar, partly inspired by the chocolate monkey drink, these lovable turtle monkey bars have the best of both animal kingdoms, in my opinion. Like a well-aged wine, the flavors also seemed to mingle after having been squashed together in plastic wrap for an hour beforehand. Cold, gooey banana indeed pervaded every bite. The mealy texture of graham cracker could be felt throughout. Chocolate chunks prominently lodged in the teeth. The combined sensation is positively that of a kindergarten recess (minus the raisins).

So it was appropriate, then, that this was how I celebrated my twenty-sixth birthday on Saturday: adding crumbs to a well-worn booth in one of my favorite Brooklyn dives, Freddy’s, as my friends and I plowed through turtle monkey bars, homemade chocolate chip cookies and apple cider donut holes. All washed down, of course, with plain old beer. (The choicest brand on tap? Sierra Nevada.) That’s what I call “naute” cuisine.

a very sophisticated trio

buttery molten sugar becomes caramel

You’ve got to be irrepressibly old not to enjoy cookies, cupcakes and donuts. (And you’ve got to love a bar that doesn’t serve food nor minds if you bring your own.) To me, embracing this immaturity is what birthdays are really all about. I was not the only bearer of gooey goodness that night; one friend brought along a quadruplet of cupcakes with unruly decorations. Unfortunately, I didn’t grab any shots of these or the other sweets before they were devoured, but I highly recommend this apple cider donut recipe, which makes a mean (and easy) ball of fried dough.

I dare you to try one of these chunky bars without feeling, for just an instant, like a five-year-old. Then again, this is coming from a girl who often feels about this mature. And judging from some of these gifts from friends, I’ll have plenty more days of monkeying around in the kitchen.

a bird-shaped vegetable peeler, some wonderful-smelling orangey countertop spray and a chunky, rum-flavored chocolate bar

Chunky Turtle Monkey Love Bars
(makes about 16)

1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 oz dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup salted peanuts
1 banana, chopped to 1/2″ pieces
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and lightly flour a 9″ square casserole. In a medium sized bowl, combine 6 tablespoons of the butter, softened, with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the baking cocoa. Cut flour and graham cracker crumbs into the mixture until the dough just comes together. Press dough into the bottom of the casserole in an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until slightly golden. Remove from heat and turn off oven.

While crust is still hot, sprinkle the chocolate, peanuts and banana pieces evenly across the top. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, stirring with a spatula, and let bubble for about 1 minute, until the fats and sugar are congealed and no longer separate. Turn off heat. Carefully lift pan and drizzle caramel evenly over the casserole. There should be enough to just cover any crust surface. Refrigerate casserole for 20 minutes or until completely cool and hardened. Cut into cubes and serve.

Cost Calculator
(for 16 bars)

3/4 cup flour: $0.20
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar: $0.40
1 tablespoon brown sugar: $0.15
4 oz dark chocolate (from a $2 bar): $1.00
1/2 cup peanuts (from a large tub of mixed nuts for $6.50): $0.75
1 stick butter: $1.00
1 banana: $0.35
2 tablespoons baking cocoa: $0.30
1 tablespoon heavy cream: $0.35

Total: $4.50

Health Factor

Eight brownie points: Needless to say, my belly did not feel too good the next morning. If there’s anything I learned from turning 26, it’s that beer and sweets do not mix as well as I’d imagined. Then, I have to give these treats credit for incorporating pure banana hunks and peanuts for potassium and protein, respectively. There’s also that much-alluded to bit of antioxidants in the dark chocolate, which grows in proportion to how dark the chocolate is.

14 Responses

  1. Karol

    happy birthday once more! the turtle bars were AMAZING.

  2. mark

    I can hear my dentist’s drill right now!

    26? Where did the candles go? Sink into the goo?

  3. Michelle

    That looks delicious!! Messy but delicious 🙂

  4. OhioMom

    Happy Belated Birthday Cathy ! Those cookie bars look decadent 🙂

  5. Yvo

    Happy bday! Those look awesome, and like a true food blogger, on your bday, you made goodies to give out! I love it ! =)

  6. martha

    Those look delicious! Did you eat them so fast that the banana didn’t turn brown? (And does it turn brown even though it’s coated in caramel?)

  7. martha

    oh my goodness – and many happy returns of the day!

  8. cathy

    Thanks all! Martha: No, the bananas didn’t seem to turn too brown, probably because they were mostly covered in caramel, though they weren’t exactly snow-white either. Somewhere in between!

  9. Ren

    I have to make these bars! Will it make a big difference if I omit the heavy cream and if they aren’t eaten how long will they “stay” fresh in the refrig?

  10. Deborah Dowd

    These look incredible! I don’t think I would have to worry about how long they would “keep” because I doubt they would last long enough to find out!

  11. m00se

    Has anyone made these and omitted the banana? I’d like to make them for work, and I doubt the fresh fruit would hold up overnight.

  12. plastic tub

    plastic tub

    Thanks for the compliment no one has ever told me that before!!

  13. nan

    how long can this be stored? with or without refrigerating it…

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