When you think of bananas, you probably think of two things: lunchboxes and banana bread. But this low-prep, all-season, kid-friendly fruit is way more versatile than you might think – especially when it comes to desserts.

Strip off the peel and use the fruit in sundaes and banana splits. A trio of tropical sorbets and a splash of chocolate sauce provide a welcome twist on the old classic.

Or turn a lunchtime favorite into a quick, kid-friendly finale to dinner: Tuck peanut butter and banana slices between bread, dip in a cinnamon- and sugar-spiked batter, and grill to toasty, gooey sweetness. Substitute a chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella for the peanut butter if you really want to see them smile.

If you have six minutes and a clean skillet, you can create a decadent – and quite grown-up – topping for vanilla ice cream. For this top-speed version of bananas Foster, just simmer banana slices with rum, butter and dark brown sugar. You’ll have a restaurant-worthy dessert with minimal effort.

Tropical banana splits

Ingredients:

1 cup whipping cream (divided)

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

4 ripe bananas

1 cup mango sorbet

1 cup coconut sorbet

1 cup raspberry sorbet

¼ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, toasted if desired

4 maraschino cherries

Method:

In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup cream just to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes; stir to combine. In a medium bowl, whip remaining ½ cup cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside. Peel bananas and split lengthwise; divide among four sundae dishes. Top each banana half with a scoop (¼ cup) each of mango, coconut and raspberry sorbets. Drizzle each sundae with chocolate sauce; top with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

– Sandra Rose Gluck, Everyday Food

Per serving: calories: 719; protein: 5.2 grams; total fat: 38.3 grams; saturated fat: 21.1 grams; carbohydrate: 101.3 grams; dietary fiber: 6.3 grams

Grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 egg

¼ cup whole milk

1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Coarse salt

4 slices white sandwich bread

¼ cup peanut butter

2 bananas, peeled, halved crosswise and then lengthwise

1 tablespoon butter

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Method:

In a shallow bowl, whisk together egg, milk, brown sugar, nutmeg and a pinch of salt; set aside. Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon peanut butter. Dividing evenly, sandwich banana pieces between slices of bread.In a medium nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium heat. One at a time, dip both sides of sandwiches in egg mixture and place in skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 1 to 3 minutes per side.Transfer sandwiches to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut sandwiches into quarters. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

– Sandra Rose Gluck, Everyday Food

Per serving: calories: 277; protein: 8.8 grams; total fat: 14.1 grams; saturated fat: 4.7 grams; carbohydrate: 32.3 grams; dietary fiber: 3 grams

Banana foster

NOTE: If you’re using a gas stove, be careful because the rum may ignite; if it does, simply wait for any flame to subside and continue.

Ingredients:

1 pint vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar

¼ cup dark or gold rum

3 bananas, peeled, halved crosswise and then lengthwise

Method:

Set ice cream out to soften. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat butter, sugar and rum over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth and bubbly, about 4 minutes to 6 minutes. Add bananas and cook, gently swirling skillet, until bananas are just warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Scoop ice cream into bowls and top with bananas and caramel sauce. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

– Sandra Rose Gluck, Everyday Food

Per serving: calories: 466; protein: 4.7 grams; total fat: 18.6 grams; saturated fat: 11.7 grams; carbohydrate: 65.3 grams; dietary fiber: 2.5 grams


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