Banana bombs are aptly named. They’re an explosion of deliciousness since they’re full of ripe bananas, gooey dates, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, oats, and smooth chocolate chips. I got to share banana bombs with the world (or rather with some people from my city) this past Saturday for the Incredible Edibles cooking contest sponsored by our local paper.
About a month ago, there was an ad in the paper to enter a recipe into the “Incredible Edibles” contest for a chance to make your recipe for judges and potentially win a prize! I thought, “Why the heck not enter?”
I kind of forgot about the contest until a few weeks ago when a woman from the paper called to tell me that my banana bomb recipe had been selected as a finalist for the “simple and quick” category! I was to compete for the grand prize by making my recipe in the local community college’s fancy kitchen and presenting it to judges. The recipe would be judged on both taste and presentation.
My parents and I loaded up the car last Saturday morning and headed to the kitchens downtown where the competition took place. I took my mom with me because a) we could bring someone to help us, b) a guardian had to come with me because I’m under 18 years of age. We signed in, unloaded our supplies, and I got baking! We had to bring all of our ingredients and utensils (food processor, baking sheets, oven mitt, spatula, cookie scoop, etc.), but the paper gave us a gift card to reimburse us for the ingredients.
Other finalist recipes were chorizo breakfast burritos, egg toasts, a french toast bake, stuffed mushrooms, meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting (so innovative!), cheesy zucchini bites, and a fancy dip displayed in bread bowls. I participated in the morning session of the contest along with eleven other finalists participating in four categories (appetizers, side dishes, simple and quick, and breakfast). Twelve other finalists in four other categories made their dishes in the afternoon.
I made three batches of banana bombs: one regular batch (with chocolate chips), one batch with walnuts and chocolate chips, and one “almond joy” batch (with coconut and chocolate chips). I like the add-ins, but I’m partial to the original batch because I love oodles of chocolate chips.
Once I was done making and baking the bombs, I arranged them in a visually-pleasing way for the judges. We had two hours to make and arrange our food, which was more than enough time for me, but some people finished plating their food in the nick of time (it reminded me of the TV show “Chopped”). Once everyone finished plating their food, the three judges went around the large table our food was at and tasted every dish in each category (there were three finalists per category). It was intense- the judges had scoring sheets and everything! I was “against” creamy pumpkin soup and a chicken/ avocado/ rice dish in my category.
We got to try all the dishes as the judges agreed on the winners. Unfortunately, my dish was the only vegan dish, so I just ate a bunch of banana bombs (sorry not sorry). All the other dishes looked really good though! As we finished eating, the judges came in and an announcer declared the winners of each category. My new friend Sue won the appetizer category! The pumpkin soup was the winner of the simple and quick category.
After the awards, two of the three judges (who were local food professionals and chefs) pulled me aside and said that they were really impressed with my banana bombs, but they didn’t really fit into the category since soup, rice, and banana energy bites aren’t very similar. Because of this, the banana bombs didn’t win. However, the judges ended up giving me the honorable mention! **Insert 20 more exclamation points here!!!**
My recipe will be in the paper on March 4! I’m PUMPED.
Hooray for recipe contests, new friends, and BANANA BOMBS.
They make life good.
Now, what you’ve all been waiting for- the banana bomb RECIPE! I actually published it on my blog in November 2014, but I’ll post it here too so you don’t have to open a new tab.
MAKES 18-21 COOKIE SCOOP SIZE BANANA BALLS
- 2 ripe bananas, peeled
- ½ cup pitted dates (about 12 dates)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups oats
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- optional add-ins: 1/4 to ½ cup each of coconut flakes, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, peanut butter chips… really whatever your heart desires! I like to do batches with 1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes and ½ cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup walnuts and ½ cup chocolate chips, and batches with ½ cup raisins instead of chocolate chips to change it up.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend together everything except the oats and chocolate chips in a food processor. Then add 1 and ½ cup of oats and pulse in the food processor for 5 seconds or so. Take out the food processor blade and mix in the remaining oats and the chocolate chips (and possibly your other add-ins). Scoop onto a cookie sheet with a cookie scoop or a spoon and bake for 13 or 14 minutes. When they come out of the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes, then enjoy!