I have eaten some awful, dry arepa and some very good arepa. Our Dominican friend, Baldemiro Escalante, a great cook in his own right, once brought me some of the best plain arepa I've ever eaten, made by his sister-in-law, Nancy. Here's a recipe Baldé makes with our small dooryard bananas, one most people will like for a slightly sweet treat.
1/4 C. butter (1/2 stick)
1 can (13 to 16 oz.) coconut milk (*Note)
with enough added evaporated milk to make 3 cups
2 C. or 16 oz. peeled, ripe bananas
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 C. sugar
2 C. fine yellow corn meal
1/2 C. raisins
Preheat oven to 350º F. Generously
butter 2 8" square cake pans, or 2 other pans or casseroles about the same
While milk is heating, put ripe bananas in a large bowl and beat with an electric beater until mashed well. Add salt, cinnamon, sugar, still beating; then add cornmeal. Continue to mix well until all lumps are gone. If too stiff to handle, add a little coconut milk mixture.
Place whole milk and raisins in a heavy large pan and put over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When boiling, slowly add banana-cornmeal mixture, stirring vigorously. Rinse out bowl with remaining coconut milk mixture, and add to the saucepan. Stir until it comes to a boil, and turn down to lowest setting. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.Pour into prepared cake pans, and bake for about 1 hour, or until golden on top, and it springs back when touched. Cool completely. Keep refrigerated.
Note: Do not mistake real coconut milk for the liquid inside a raw coconut. Actual coconut milk is extracted from coconut meat, and is a rich, flavorful and healthy treat although high in calories. You'll find it in most groceries, and surely in ethnic grocery stores.