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Sometimes I get an absolute bee in my bonnet about a certain ingredient and can’t rest until I have worked with it to my satisfaction. My most-recent obsession is with coconut, and I blame this post from Edible Perspective for getting me fixated. The truth is that I love coconut and have been hearing more and more about its beneficial properties: I was going to list a few, but found so much information on the Coconut Research Center site that I will link the whole page instead.

It seems that coconut is a love-hate food, maybe because of the smell? About this time last year, I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer, and for a few days I was having flashbacks to playing as a child with Suntan Barbie (or was it Malibu Barbie?), a doll with an extra-special bonus coconut oil scent that would not go away. Other folks have trouble with the texture of the processed sweetened flakes most of us associate with eating coconut. I understand both of those perspectives, but can’t help but think of all the different ways you can eat coconut: coconut oil as a butter replacement in baked goods, coconut milk in simple, delicious homemade curries, coconut water as a refreshing post-workout hydrator. It seems plausible that there’s at least one use that would appeal to even the staunchest naysayer.

And then there are the folks like me, who like ALL of those uses and so many more. I get giddy when I think of my mom’s triple coconut cake, the mythical Maine needhams, or the legendary coconut cream pie served at the Tom Douglas restaurants. I like coconut in my granola and smoothies. Is it a surprise that I was determined to put coconut in a brownie? Perhaps not surprising, but the lead-up was unintended, born from the failure of another food experiment. I started to make some of the coconut butter from the Edible Perspectives post, and figured out after about five minutes that I had not enough coconut, or too big of a food processor, depending on your perspective. What to do with about 1/2 c. of pulverized, raw coconut? Why, add it to a pan of brownies, of course. As an extra twist, I added a banana “swirl”, because it sounded good at the time. (If you aren’t crazy about bananas, you could absolutely leave them out, but make sure to add the butter and sugar back into the recipe.) Though it’s hard to tell from the picture, the coconut is prominent in these brownies, balanced nicely with the dark chocolate. I love them. I hope you will give them a go, whether you’re a coconut fiend like me or trying to find a way to like eating it just a little more.

Coconut-Banana Brownies

  • 10 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. coconut oil (or canola oil)
  • 4 oz. unsweetened raw coconut, pulverized in a food processor*
  • 3/4 c. dark baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 large, very ripe banana, cut into small pieces (1/3-1/2 c.)
  • pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt 10 T. butter over medium-low heat; remove from the stovetop. Stir in the oil and coconut, then the cocoa powder, then 1 1/2 c. sugar. Cool down this mixture if it’s hot before adding the eggs, one at a time; make sure to stir well so they are all incorporated. Add the vanilla, then fold in the flour just until combined, being careful not to overmix. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and set aside.

In a small saute pan, melt 2 T. butter and add 1/4 c. sugar; stir over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken and then add in the banana pieces and salt. Stir constantly while cooking for 4-5 mins.; the sauce should be fairly thick and golden. Dollop over the top of your brownies and then use the spoon or a butter knife to swirl the bananas through the batter. Bake for 30-35 mins. and then remove to the counter to cool. When baking brownies, don’t rely on the clean knife trick for doneness, as they are generally overdone when the knife comes out clean!

*Make sure to use unsweetened, all-natural coconut: Let’s Do Organic in the green bag is a good one, as is the one from Bob’s Red Mill. Look for a product with nothing other than coconut on the ingredient list. As far as the food processor step goes, I bought mine in bulk, so it came in huge pieces that I would have had to break down even if I hadn’t already. A benefit of pulverizing the coconut is that it spreads it more completely through the batter without changing the texture dramatically.