Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Chocolate-Bottom Banana Bars and #CozyMystery #Audiobook #Giveaway from Cleo Coyle

In honor of National Banana Bread Day (no kidding), my husband and I  are sharing a fantastic banana bar recipe that we published in our 13th Coffeehouse Mystery.
Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband. 
Learn about their books 
by clicking here and here.

Two layers of flavor and texture make these bars an outstanding treat. A soft banana cake layer floats over a rich, brownie-like base laced with chocolate chips.

It sounds complicated, yet it's very easy to make, and a perfect snack for afternoon coffee breaks or late-night noshing. These beautiful bars make a great home-baked gift for friends and family, too.

Now let's start baking!

~ Cleo

This giveaway is now over.
Congrats to our winner,
Melissa Nunez!

And don't miss the fun, new contests
coming up in our next
Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter.
To sign up,
click here.

Cleo Coyle's 
Chocolate-Bottom Banana Bars

"Lovin' from the oven" is how coffee hunter Matt Allegro described these fresh-baked squares in one of our most popular Coffeehouse Mysteries, Billionaire Blend. And Matt was right. 
You'll notice we put a bit of earthy espresso powder in our chocolate bottom layer. Yes, we’re coffee fiends, but here’s the truth. You won’t taste coffee, only a more powerful note of chocolate. As bakers know, espresso powder is a way to deepen the flavor of chocolate in recipes.

These bars pair beautifully with coffee, espresso, and strong black teas.

May you bake them with love and eat with joy!

~ Cleo

To download this recipe in a free
PDF document that you can print,
save or share, click here.

Yield: 16 squares (one 9‑inch-square pan)


2 cups mashed ripe* bananas (about 4 to 6 depending on size)

*See my note at the end of this recipe to ripen bananas in the oven

1/4 cup sour cream 

3/4 cup canola oil (or cold-pressed coconut oil, melt before measuring) 

1/2 cup light brown sugar 

1 egg, lightly beaten with fork 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

1½ teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/4 teaspoon table salt or finely ground sea salt 

1½ cups all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup baking cocoa 

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder 

1/2 cup chocolate chips 

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Step 1—Prep oven and pan: First preheat your oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 9‑inch-square pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the side like handles. You’ll use those handles to easily lift the baked banana bar slab out of the pan. Coat paper lightly with non-stick spray. Set aside. 

Step 2—Make batter: Combine your 2 cups of mashed bananas and sour cream with a fork. Add the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fork-whisk well (or use an electric mixer) to blend until smooth. Now add your flour and mix until a lumpy batter forms, but do not over-mix at this stage.

Step 3—Create chocolate bottom: Remove 1 cup batter and place it into a separate bowl. Add cocoa and espresso powder, fork-whisking until the batter is smooth. Fold in chocolate chips, and (optional) chopped walnuts.

Step 4—Assemble and bake: Spread the chocolate batter across the entire bottom of the prepared pan. Take your time, using the back of a spoon to spread the batter all the way into the corners. Be sure the layer is even. Now pour your remaining banana batter on top and once again use the back of a spoon to even out the layer (otherwise your bars will bake up lopsided). Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.


TO RIPEN BANANAS FAST: Place yellow bananas on a foil-covered baking sheet and bake at 350 F. for 10 minutes, turning once. Bananas will blacken. Peel right away (be careful, they’re hot!) and cool flesh in fridge before mashing.
P h o t o s

Click here to download a free PDF
of this recipe that you can print,
save, or share.
Click here to download the PDF.

Stay Cozy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of  
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on Facebook here. * Follow me on Twitter here
Learn about my books here

* * *

Our newest mystery is now
a bestselling hardcover!

Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N

Dead to the Last Drop

A "Most Wanted" Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor Fall "Trends" Pick
Three "Best of Year" Lists

Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.

*  *  *

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling works 

of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark 
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each 
of the 15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.

(with mini plot summaries)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the books and meet 

Jack Shepard, our PI ghost by clicking here.



This Giveaway is Now Over!
Congrats to our winner,

Melissa Nunez!

My husband Marc and I are hard at work on our 16th Coffeehouse Mystery, scheduled for release this December. In the meantime, many of you have read our 15th title, Dead to the Last Drop, an exciting installment set in Washington, DC, now a bestseller in hardcover. 

Today we're giving away an autographed audio version of the book in a beautiful keeper CD format. 

TO ENTER, leave a comment on this blog post with your e-mail address (or another way to contact you, for example, you can let me know if  you are my friend on Facebook and I can get in touch that way, and feel free to Friend me if you aren't!)...

Now a bestseller in hardcover
and a "Most Wanted"
Mystery Guild Selection.

To learn more
about the book, click here.

This giveaway is now over.
Congrats to our winner,
Melissa Nunez!

Thanks to Blackstone Audio and
Penguin Random House
for sending us extra copies.

Good luck and may you
read (and listen) with joy! 
~ Cleo


  1. LOVE this layered bar recipe; and the book sounds incredible! EMS591@aol.com

  2. I think I am drooling over the pictures! Thank you for the recipe and recipe.

  3. I'm currently on Holiday Buzz and can't wait to start the Haunted Bookshop series! I'm hooked!

  4. I have loved every one of your coffee house mysteries. It's the only series I have to have immediately. I don't wait for the paperback. I have t tried the audio versions. I'd like to. suefoster109@netzero.net

  5. Yummy. Thank you for the recipe and the chance to win. Dmskrug3(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. The recipe looks fantastic; thanks for the chance to win :)
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  7. Love all your books!
    Friends on Facebook!!

  8. My coffe cup is ready and the Chocolate Bottom Banana Bars will still be warm when I dig into my...gulp...first Coffeehouse Mystery book - anxiously waiting for them to arrive in my mailbox! Thanks, Cleo for the fun blog, recipes, contest and reading! Friend on Facebook!

  9. Since Bobo can't have a cup of coffee to keep warm, I'm glad s/he has a comfy muffler.
    This does sound delicious. And, as always, your photos are A1.
    Glad to hear the next coffee house is on the way.
    But, please, some Jack!

  10. This recipe looks scrumptious ! I own almost every book in this series on audio , and the narrator is EXCELLENT ! Thank you for such a generous giveaway :) kathambre@yahoo.com

  11. Interesting recipe! I just may try it since bananas have been so cheap at the store lately. Thanks for the contest.

  12. Pat (patdupuy@yahoo.com)February 23, 2016 at 11:14 AM

    This looks soooo good! Maybe when Lent is over. . .

  13. Once again another delicious looking recipe. Banana and chocolate, such a great combination. An audiobook would be great, get my mind off the working out part of working out ;-). Can't wait for the next book. thanks

    1. Just got my newsletter so here's the secret words: Cleo's "Coffeehouse Mystery Newsletter" :-)

  14. Super yum recipe, and super fun giveaway - thanks, Cleo! I love that this book is set in Washington, DC (my hometown). I'd love the audiobook, I've started listening to them more and more over the past year and it's a great way to read while doing things around the house, and also while driving to and fro. Nicole nicolev.girldetective.com p.s. We ARE friends on FB! :-)

  15. This looks yummy! Thanks for the chance to win!

  16. This recipe sounds delicious. It would be great to enjoy a piece (or two!) While listening to your book.
    Thanks for sharing both your recipe and giveaway!

  17. What a great recipe, especially with a good cup of coffee. Enjoy your series and would really enjoy listening to the book on audio.

  18. The recipe sounds fantastic. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of the audiobook. elainehroberson@gmail.com

  19. Hey, Facebook Buddy! I am so hooked on the Coffeehouse Mystery series with Clare becoming a literary friend. I love checking in on her to make sure she and her circle of friends and family are doing well. I also enjoy finding something new about the world of coffee, and testing another treat...bananas? good! chocolate? better! together with a French-pressed cafe? great! I'm really getting out the lucky charms to win my first audiobook.

  20. I've used my Moms recipe for banana bread for many years, but I'm very tempted to try your Black-Bottom Banana Bread. Banana and chocolate - yum!

  21. Recipe looks good! Love the coffeehouse series. :)

  22. A delectable recipe which would be loved by our family. Thanks for this great