Banana Split Shortbread Bowls

When I was a girl growing up on Long Island,  summers meant  the ice cream truck’s arrival on our suburban block in the evenings. His truck filled with  chocolate and nut-covered cones, Italian ice and hundreds of popsicles, the ice cream man’s visits were welcomed by every kid on the street. We’d leap off our backyard swings, grab the change our parents had given us after dinner, and line up at the truck to carefully select our desserts.  My favorite was a particular popsicle that had a chocolate outer layer, which I would always eat first. The softened vanilla ice cream came next, followed by a cookie layer at the center. I’d savor each layer on its own while anticipating the next one, challenging myself to get it all eaten before a drop melted off and onto the ground. Great memories.

These Banana Split Shortbread Bowls remind me of those youthful pleasures. A shortbread cookie—with a buttery base topped with dark chocolate, dried cherries, banana chips and sweetened coconut―forms the basis of this dessert. Crispy and inherently crumbly as they come out of the pan, some of the cookies will naturally fall apart. These crumbs are like jewels once sprinkled on top of your favorite ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet. Serve these bowls throughout the summer, adding berries, peaches and other fresh fruits as the seasons progress.

The cookies are also delicious on their own or with a cup of tea or espresso. Consider doubling the recipe to have a few extra on hand for unexpected guests.


I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Banana Split Shortbread Bowls

Yield: 4 dessert bowls plus about 24 bar cookies


For the shortbread:

    For the base:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso or finely ground instant coffee
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 ounces bittersweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped

    For the topping:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup dried banana chips, crumbled
  • ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • ¼ cup sweetened coconut
  • Sea salt

    For serving:

  • 1 quart ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt, your choice of flavor


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly butter a 9-x-13-inch sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and butter again.
  3. Working with a standing mixer or in large bowl by hand, beat the butter and sugars together. Add the vanilla extract. Beat again. Add all the dry ingredients and gently blend in with the butter and sugar mixer until combined. Mix in the chopped chocolate. The dough will be heavy and sticky.
  4. Pour the dough into the prepared pan and spread it into a thin, even layer in the pan.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until the base is bubbly.
  6. Remove the base from the oven and turn the oven oven. Scatter the chopped chocolate for the topping evenly across the top of the cookie base. Put the pan back into the oven for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the now melted chocolate evenly across the top of the base. Sprinkle the banana flakes, dried cherries or cranberries and the coconut across the top. Add a light dusting of sea salt. Allow to cool completely. Cut the cookies into 30 even rectangles, reserving any parts of the cookie that crumble.
  7. When ready to serve, divide the ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt between 4 dessert bowls. Sprinkle any cookie crumbs on top. Crumble 4 additional cookies and sprinkle them onto of the ice cream bowls. Garnish each bowl with one more cookie. Place the remainder of the cookies on a serving plate or store away for another time.
  8. Serve and enjoy.


  1. The cookie recipe was adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan. Her recipe calls for crushed Heath Bars in place of the coconut, banana chips & dried fruit.
  2. Store the extra cookies in an airtight container. Keep them in a cool place on the counter or in the refrigerator.

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Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.