Are you wondering what those three things have in common? They are all part of an attempt to use up leftovers. I had two very ripe plantains and a cup of aging dulce de leche in the refrigerator. The dulce de leche had become crystallized and grainy and was no longer creamy (which homemade dulce de leche sometimes does after a couple of weeks).
I decided to use the plantains instead of bananas in my usual banana bread recipe. I sautéed them first in a little bit of butter, so that they could be mashed more easily. I also used 1/4 cup dulce de leche instead of some of the sugar. The results were great! The plantain bread was moist, rich, and had a slightly different (less sweet?) flavor that I really enjoyed, but someone who didn't know it wasn't regular banana bread might not have noticed.
Later I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies, and halfway through realized I was low on brown sugar. Grainy dulce de leche to the rescue! I used about 1/3 cup of dulce de leche in place of the same amount of brown sugar. The cookies were excellent, but I couldn't really taste the dulce de leche at all, so I'm not sure if it was responsible for the exceptional flavor and texture. I plan to try the same thing with oatmeal raisin cookies and see what happens.