Not Your Average Monkey Bars

My sister recently competed in a marathon. It was her first and we're all very proud of her. I, on the other hand, am regularly plagued by mobility issues and foot trouble. I can manage to enjoy a few miles hiking, but the thought of running is enough to make my feet leap from my body and head for the hills. And that's fine. We all have our own ways in which we shine and different abilities and talents help us all to make the world a varied and interesting place.

Of course, given all the training and dedication that goes into preparing for a marathon, it gave us a lot of opportunities to talk about the race and more. Not surprisingly, that got me thinking about the past and many fun visits over the years with her. One in particular makes me smile. When I lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, she came out for a visit and we caught all the sights and got lots of chances to enjoy the many flavors of the area. She managed to fall in love with a fun coffee drink deemed the Funky Monkey. Just after she finished her race, I took that fond memory as inspiration and created a pan of bars bearing the same name:

I don't recall all of the ingredients in a Funky Monkey, but some of the highlights were bananas and chocolate and, I think, peanut butter. Well, the bars I tossed together include those and more. They come together pretty easily and stay perfectly moist and delicious for days because the banana in them stay that way. Of course, a blend of two different kinds of sugar blended with butter and peanut butter certainly don't hurt, either! No, they aren't exactly low calorie, but hey … if you are concerned about that, consider running a marathon!

Now, you might be asking, "Where's the coffee?" I did say they were inspired by a coffee drink, didn't I? Well, I think the best way to include coffee in this experience is to pour a mug and have it alongside these delicious bars. I can't wait until I can offer one to my sister, sit down together with our coffee, and catch up on all of the great old memories and make some new ones, too!

Funky Monkey Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/8 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 banana
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla, banana, and peanut butter. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats and chocolate chunks. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes or until the bars are golden brown.

Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before cutting and serving. Store any unserved bars covered at room temperature.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes