Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Banana Split for Valentine's Day

Today my worlds of mystery and chocolate collide again, as I welcome back the multi-talented Cleo Coyle, pseudonym for the bestselling author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries. See bio below. This recipe is fantastic and fabulous for Valentine's Day.. and any day! Can't wait to make it!

Cleo Coyle:
Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Banana Split

In my youth, I had no problem polishing off a banana split. These days, however, that three-scoop boat is way too large for me to sink in one sitting, especially after a meal. And that’s how I came up with this “Coffeehouse” version of the American classic. It’s a fun way to fancy up the famous kiddie sundae for the adult table.

Why is it a “Coffeehouse” Banana Split? Because I can just see my amateur sleuth—coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi—serving this dessert in an espresso cup after an elegant dinner. Its visual impact gives any dinner a special ending, making it lovely idea for Valentine’s Day…or any day. May you…

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo

Click here to download a free printable copy of this recipe in PDF form with step-by-step photos.

My adult take on this childhood favorite begins with...

* A splash of KahlĂșa at the bottom of an espresso cup. If you're not a fan of coffee liqueur, then try Baileys Irish Cream or a chocolate liqueur. If you'd rather not use alcohol, then simply omit it.

* Next comes a modest little scoop of gelato (or ice cream). In my photos, you see vanilla bean gelato.

* Finally comes a whole strawberry and a thick slice of banana, skewered by a Popsicle stick and covered in chocolate and nuts. The key to the recipe is using Magic Shell Chocolate. You can buy it pre-made, but I prefer to make my own, and I'm happy to show you how in the recipe following this one.

Ingredients for Chocolate-Dipped Fruit Skewers...

12 ripe strawberries (try to select uniform sizes close to 1-inch)
3 medium bananas (ripe but still firm)
1 cup magic shell chocolate (recipe follows)
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or peanuts, your choice)
12 wooden Popsicle sticks


Step 1 - Prep and chill fruit: Remove green stems and hull the strawberries. For tips on hulling, click here to download another strawberry recipe of mine (Low-Fat Strawberry Shortcake Muffins). Cut bananas into 1-inch pieces with flat ends. Do not use pointy banana tips. Place these fruit pieces in the freezer for 30 minutes, but no more than an hour. This will help prevent the fruit pieces from splitting in the next step.

Step 2 - Make your fruit skewers: With a paring knife, cut a shallow slit on the pointy end of a chilled and hulled strawberry. With a firm grip on the berry, gently push the end of one Popsicle stick through that slit. Keep pushing until you see the stick protruding out the top end of the berry. Gently spear that end downward, into (but not completely through) a piece of banana. The little fruit skewer should now be able to stand upright on your plate (as in my photos).

Troubleshooting tip: If you can't get it to stand up, you probably have too much of the Popsicle stick pushing through the banana. Adjust the fruit along the stick so the flat of the banana is on the plate and not the end of the Popsicle stick.

Step 3 - Re-chill: Once all the fruit skewers are finished, return them to the freezer for another 15 – 20 minutes to chill them up again.

Step 4 - Prep plate: Cover a plate with plastic or aluminum foil. (If you don't, the chocolate may stick to the plate.)

Step 5 - Dip, sprinkle, and chill: Gently dip the fruit skewers into the warm Magic Shell Chocolate. As you pull it out, allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and stand it on the foil- or plastic-covered plate. When all of the skewers are finished, place them in the refrigerator or freezer for 10 minutes to set.

STORE: You can keep the finished skewers in the fridge for many hours before dinner or even the day before. Or you can wrap them gently in plastic or foil and keep in the freezer for up to one week.


Although many versions of this basic recipe are all over the Internet, the original source appears to be award-winning Chef Thomas Keller, who allowed The New York Times to reprint this recipe.

The secret is the extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil, which liquefies around a modest 76 degrees F. yet firms up fast when taken below that temperature. That's why you'll see a chocolate shell form quickly if you drizzle it over scoops of ice cream.

Likewise, for my "Coffeehouse" Banana Split recipe, once the fruit is chilled and dipped, you can place it in the fridge and watch a shell form very quickly.

Makes 1 cup


14 ounces (2-1/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons) chocolate chips*
1/4 cup extra virgin, cold pressed coconut oil**

*Chocolate chips can be milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or dark (bittersweet). In my photos, you see milk chocolate chips.

**Coconut oil is a very healthy oil IF you purchase the right kind--extra virgin, cold pressed. For a fast tutorial on what kind of coconut oil to purchase (and which I use and why), see my past recipe post, here.


In a microwave-safe container, stir together chocolate chips and coconut oil. Microwave for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop and stir the chips. Chocolate burns very easily so be sure to heat the mixture in short intervals. Return the container to the microwave for another 15 to 20 seconds. Stir again until chocolate is melted and smooth.

This mixture is now ready to use in the above recipe or you can drizzle it over very cold ice cream and the "magic" shell will quickly form. The chocolate should stay in its liquid form unless chilled. If the mixture begins to solidify, return it to the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds and stir until smooth once again.

* * *

A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published New York Times bestselling author. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is in its eighteenth printing. There are now thirteen books in the series. The latest, Billionaire Blend, was a national bestseller in hardcover, honored with a starred review by Kirkus, a “Top Pick” designation by RT Book Reviews, and selected as a featured alternate of the Mystery Guild. Click here to sample Billionaire Blend’s recipes. Click here for a free Coffeehouse Mystery title checklist. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the popular Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Click here for its title checklist. Learn more about Cleo and her books at her online coffeehouse, where you can also download free recipe:

Photos: Cleo Coyle


~~louise~~ said...

What a "cool" recipe Janet! Just perfect for Valentine's Day. Thank you to you and Cleo for sharing...

Cleo Coyle said...

Thank you, Louise. I'm delighted that you dropped by today. Happy Valentine's Day to you, and...

A big heart to Janet for featuring my recipe today and especially for her ongoing work on this blog. Dying for Chocolate is one of my absolute favorite foodie destinations!

~ Cleo
“Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
Cleo Coyle on Twitter

Anonymous said...

This sounds so good. I definitely want to make this. Happy Valentines Weekend.
Mary from Pittsburgh, PA