It’s OK to go bananas.
Just take a page from Michele Graniel’s book. Family, friends and neighbors know the resident of Scranton’s West Mountain neighborhood for the delectable treats she makes in the kitchen.
And one of Graniel’s sunny desserts — Banana Bread Brownies with Brown Butter Frosting — is perfect for this time of year. The recipe earned her a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.
Local Flavor was so excited to add Graniel’s handiwork to its history books. The Banana Bread Brownies were passed down to her by her late grandmother, Frances Miller, who along with Graniel’s mom, Harriet Metzger, was a fabulous baker.
“My grandmother was always making (Banana Bread Brownies) for the (Easter) holiday. Bananas are a spring thing,” Graniel said. “Every time I taste them, they remind me of that time of year. … My mother and my grandmother, that’s really who I learned the most from.”
Graniel called the recipe straightforward and simple. The only difference from the original recipe is that she does not grease and flour her jelly roll pan but rather uses parchment paper. This way, the brownies lift right out.
“You can make anything a brownie; just throw it in a jelly roll pan,” she said. “It’s a really quick recipe, but it’s so delicious.”
Thanks to her kitchen skills, Graniel — who also teaches at Elm Park Montessori School — has hosted holidays at her home for 28 years, whipping up special dinners and delicious desserts for the occasions. Many of the recipes come from her grandmother or her mom. Metzger remains an accomplished baker, even lending her talents to creating desserts for parties and small weddings.
“I’ll call her up and say, ‘What you do have for me?’” Graniel said with a laugh.
While Graniel also is known for her dinners, baking holds a special place in her heart. In addition to cakes and pies, Graniel makes dozens of varieties of cookies at Christmastime. She also does special desserts for Easter.
While her whole family may not get to enjoy her baking creations this year, her husband, Chris, and sons, Christian and Jake, will get to reap the benefits. Baking for others is a big part of the fun, Graniel said, but it’s also a way to pay homage to two of the most important women in her life.
“Baking makes me think of my mom and grandmother,” she said “It makes me feel close to them.”
Michele Graniel’s Banana Bread Brownies with Brown Butter Frosting
For the brownies:
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Heat oven to 375 F. Line a 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter and eggs until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla extract. Add flour, baking soda and salt and blend for one minute. Stir in walnuts if desired.
- Spread the batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons milk
- Heat butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat until boiling. Let butter turn a delicate brown and then remove from heat immediately.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk together until smooth. (It should be thicker than a glaze and thinner than a frosting.)
- Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm bars. (Frosting will be easier to spread while bars are still warm.)
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT