When I moved to Brighton to study abroad my junior year of college, I was expecting the cold (not that I was prepared). I was expecting the dark, the rain, and the terrible 'mexican' food. I was expecting good, cheap beer and student discounts at nightclubs, and I was even expecting to find food that I could stomach. But I wasn't expecting banoffee.
Now, in fairness to the UK (and especially Brighton, which is lovely and friendly and quirky), I was mistaken in assuming that the food would generally be awful. True, the Brits can't seem to get their minds around real Mexican food, and true, there's not a flavorful tomato or a ripe, tumor-free avocado to be found on this freezing island, but they have come up a lot in the world since my first visit to London when I was 12ish.
One of the few things I will say the English do better than the States is chain restaurants. Strada, Zizzi, Carluccio's – these are just a few of the places where you can rely on getting a decent standard of food for a pretty cheap price. But the first chain I ever fell for was Ask, and although the pizza was lovely and the service smiley, I think the clincher was their Banoffee Pie.
You heard right. Banoffee Pie. A graham crust, a layer of toffee (or dulce de leche), a layer of bananas, and then a thick layer of whipped cream. It's AMAZEBALLS. I'm not even kidding. I had my first real date with the bf at that Ask down by the laines, and I swear when dessert came it was difficult to remember who I was falling in love with at that moment.
So obviously I had to try these blondies. I upped the banana (mostly because we were in NYC last weekend and we have waaaay too much stuff going off in the kitchen), swapped out the dulce de leche for caramel squares, and an hour later I was chowing down on one of the riches, most indulgent desserts I've ever made. For serious, I could only eat one of these a day! Not kidding. So make sure you have people with whom you can share!*
adapted from raspberri cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
In a large bowl, whisk together until smooth:
1/2c (115g) melted butter
1/2c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 mashed bananas
Add and stir until just moist:
1 tsp salt
1/2c chocolate chips.
Spread into greased 8x8" pan and dot with dulce de leche (roughly 1/4c all told) or caramel squares. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and then cut into squares.
*I myself have a lovely new job, which comes complete with an office full of even more lovely young ladies (and a couple of good dudes too), whose diets I am hell-bent on ruining. mwahahahahahahaha!