Sweet desserts present bananas at their best.
Credit: Randy Mayor

Bananas are one of those foods that almost everybody loves, and not just for taste and health reasons. Their elongated shape and sunny color lend them to whimsy, from banana harmonicas to fake banana noses to Chiquita Banana in her tutti-frutti hat — not to mention all those cartoon characters slipping on banana peels. By merely adding an "s" to the word, you get "bananas," an adjective that means wild and crazy, as in "I'm just bananas over bananas." (See all our best banana recipes as well as our best banana bread recipes).

Although it isn't a topic that TV talk shows have caught on to yet, bananas do have a dark side. Left out for a few days, their peels develop brown spots, their firm pulp goes soft, even squishy. It's at this point that people often think bananas are over the hill, which is hardly the case. Overripe bananas may not be the best for eating out of hand, but when it comes to cooking, they couldn't be better — they're easier to mash, sweeter (as the fruit ripens, its starch turns to sugar), and more intense in flavor.

When creating dessert recipes, we use ingredients that give overripe bananas an even richer, more complex flavor: brown sugar, caramel, cinnamon, rum, nutmeg, orange, and pecans. As our recipes show, bananas don't always have to be mellow yellow. Once you get in touch with their dark side, you'll thank us. A whole bunch.