Tag Archives: Bananas

Banana Caramel Nut Frozen Yogurt

dipped pops

I like bananas when they’ve just yellow but tinged with the faintest color of green on the ridges that run their length.  No spots, firm, and crisp sounding when I pop the top and pull that first piece of peeling away from the fruit.  If bananas could stay like this for days, I’d enjoy one every day all by itself.

But they don’t.

I don’t like the cloying sweetness that begins to take over once the ripening process gets going, and the softer texture leaves much to be desired.  I wish I was better at pulling out the blender because I wouldn’t have trouble making a smoothie and putting a too ripe banana out of its misery with some yogurt and orange juice, but I’m not.

Recently, we’ve had quite the ripe banana back up so I spent more time than I normally would looking for something different to make with them — something other than banana bread or muffins.  I love frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, but they’re not something to be made with brown bananas.  Pastry Chef Sherry Yard has some delicious ideas involving frying and dipping, so that’s on my list, but I wasn’t in the mood to get too involved.

If not frozen banana pops, then why not banana ice cream — or frozen yogurt since I had Greek yogurt and kefir cheese in the fridge.  Then I could make banana frozen yogurt pops.

Hmmm…

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Banana Cream Tarts

Banana Cream Tart

With most of the rest of the country sweltering in record temperatures, we’ve yet to see any real sunshine or warmth for more than a couple of days at a time this summer.  Although I’m not one to complain too loudly about it, generally content to be in my house or pottering around on the patio regardless of the weather, my husband is quite the opposite.  As in past years, he collected our youngest and a favorite cousin to hit the road for a guys-only adventure, first to San Francisco for the expected tourist destinations and a college dorm tour fit in for my son, and then to Sacramento for some wild and crazy white water rafting.  I was left with several days of solitude, chick flicks on a whim, and the promise of a few days in Las Vegas upon their return.

It’s been years since we visited Las Vegas in the dead of summer, preferring Fall with its football-betting fan-packed sports books and the more cost effective shopping over feeding slot machines.  The 110 degree heat quickly reminded us that our cool temperatures and grey July skies aren’t all that bad unless one enjoys searing, dry heat, especially intense when one is standing on street corners amongst the masses waiting for traffic lights to change.   Thank goodness for cool casino breaks, taxis, a cushy hotel room at the Mirage and fabulous food.

We like to try at least one new restaurant when we visit and this time, were able to try one that’s been on my list for a while; Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in the MGM Grand.  The red and black decor is swanky, and bar seating allows for an on-going view of all the kitchen goings on.  We indulged ourselves with the seasonal tasting menu and wine pairings.  From the L’Amuse-Bouche of avocado and cilantro grapefruit gelee, to the selection of cheeses and the smoked foie gras terrine layered with caramelized eel, the meal was truly exceptional.

And then there were the potatoes.  Saying they were mashed doesn’t quite cut it.  I wondered just how much butter had been incorporated into them to make us want to linger over each small spoon full, savoring it much like one would a popsicle on a warm day.  Well, maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea, right?  The potatoes stayed with us, as in, “Those potatoes…” muttered by one of us in the middle of something completely unrelated, like wound-licking after losing all of the 4,000 penny winnings from the royal flush because that’s what one does in Vegas.  “Mmmm…those potatoes…” I vowed to make them once we were home.

But it was banana cream pie that became an unexpected focus of our trip this year, in spite of the potatoes.  The banana cream pie seen on a deli menu very late one evening when we shouldn’t have been eating to begin with.  Banana cream pie my husband wanted but never ordered, instead of a light dinner with a bit of protein and vegetables.  Just banana cream pie and a glass of milk.  Joel Robuchon’s perfectly plated assortment of four lovely sorbets and decadent array of luscious tarts weren’t enough to keep banana cream pie out of his head, and that’s saying quite a bit.  I swear he asked the waiter if perhaps they had banana cream pie.

Of course I made banana cream pie for him almost as soon as we were home — but not until I’d made the potatoes.  “Oh, those potatoes…”

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Banana Chocolate Chip Bars

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Somehow, it seems I’ve gotten myself into what appears to be a New Year’s resolution.  Since I’m not one to make resolutions, I guess it chose me by default.  In my attempt to use what we had on hand to cook and bake as much as possible this month, I decided to bake my son some treats to pack in his lunch for school.  My pantry is stuffed, so the possibilities are endless.

If you saw his lunch, you’d argue with me about whether it actually resembled what you or I might call a standard lunch, but it helps put calories in his tall lanky frame until he can come home in the early afternoon to eat another meal before dinner.

He’s fairly accommodating and knew I was going to be cutting back on my habitual trips to the grocery store, so readily agreed to go along with what looks like may become a Monday ritual.  Since I have absolutely no rituals, this should be interesting.

But I’m thinking about it, and like the idea:  1)  I can try many new recipes; 2) I know what ingredients are going into his treats since they’re coming out of my pantry; 3)  it will keep my pantry under control; and 4) I’d like to think it will save some money, but I truly wonder about it.  I’ll have to get out my calculator once in a while to figure it out.

With two weeks down and about 37 to go, I’m two for two, so can’t call my new practice a success yet, but I’ll keep you posted as the year unfolds.

Last week, the Resident Teen enjoyed a batch of Banana Chocolate Chip Bars.  I had some rather sad looking bananas sitting around and instead of putting them in the freezer for another day (and most likely trash day because months would go by before I used them…) I decided they’d go to good use as a lunch treat. 

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Banana Caramel Cream Eclairs: Daring, but…

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When I saw this month’s Daring Baker challenge posed by the extremely talented hosts Meeta of What’s for Lunch, Honey?, and Tony of Olive Juice, (you should see their sites — Oh, my goodness…) I thought, great!  No problem.  We were given the freedom to explore the classic eclair with a recipe by none other than Pierre Herme — and Chocolate Eclairs to boot.  Perfect, if you ask me.  The first time I made pate-a choux was when I was in junior high and it’s never posed a problem until now.  It figures.

Okay, so honestly, there was that crocquembouche one year…

I know the the flour goes into the butter which has been melted in the liquid — this time equal measures of water and milk.  I know the eggs go in one at a time and that you beat them like hell, watching the mixture go from globby to smooth.  Velvety.  I have seriously weak wrists, but I always make pate-a-choux by hand because I actually enjoy working with it.

But sometimes it really doesn’t make a difference if you know these things, because well, Murphy shows up when I least want him to.  Like this time.  That’s his job.

Maybe I should have spent more time in the Daring Bakers’ Kitchen scouring the non-procrastinators’ comments and questions.  After all, that would be the whole point of a forum, right?  But did I?  No.  So was I able to find out whether others noticed something strange about the cooking time?  No.

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I used a fluted tip to pipe the soft dough onto my baking sheets, making plump little fingers lined up diagonally — 24 of them.  But when the "about 20 minutes" of suggested baking time came and went, and I had diligently timed and repositioned pans and placed a wooden spoon in the door of my oven like directed, then examined the "puff" and scrutinized the color, and poked for "firmness" and even broke one open to peer inside, I knew that there was no way 20 minutes was enough.

I referred to other recipes for pate-a-choux to see what the differences were just in case I’d missed something — like pate-a-choux isn’t made now has it always has been.  I struggled not to think about the idea that I’d learned to make "cream puff dough" from an old Betty Crocker cookbook and you couldn’t get any more basic than that.  So I watched those chubby fingers of pate-a-choux re-puff after I checked them and decided to bake them longer, and longer, and longer.  I lost count, but can estimate that they were in the oven about 35 minutes total, and still, they weren’t quite as I thought they should be.

The interiors were far too moist. They were not such chubby fingers after all.  They were flat.

And if that wasn’t bad enough?

Let’s.  Talk.  Filling.  Shall we?  *Let’s not and say we did…*

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I thought caramel with bananas and chocolate glaze would be heavenly.  A few almonds sprinkled over it all.  Sooooooo….I experimented with Sherry Yard’s Whipped Caramel Cream.  I figured since the Daring Bakers have done caramel until the cows come home and I even longer, that this, too, would be a cake walk. What a total fat head.

Well.  After whipping the heavy cream with the creme fraiche and other ingredients, the cooled caramel sauce never quite allowed me to "carefully" fold it in.  Somehow, I knew this.  I knew that it wouldn’t work since I also know that folding anything as thick as peanut butter into fluffy cream (hahahahaha, Sherry Yard — you’re just kidding us, aren’t you?) would be a complete miracle.  I’d thought of making a stabilized whipped cream, knowing that it could work, but I’m usually game to try anything once, even when I suspect something is wrong.  Certainly, it couldn’t have been moi….right?  After all, I’m not Sherry Yard.  There just wasn’t enough whipped cream to hold up the density of that caramel that was so decadently, deliciously spiked with lemon, and just the thought of the creme fraiche with it had me nearly swooning while thinking of the final taste.

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But it began to separate, so I decided to whip up quite a bit more heavy cream, then slowly incorporate the almost broken caramel creme, and it held up.  But the sacrifice was huge.  There was no deep caramelly flavor that would have been in the original.  I ended up with an ivory colored whipped cream that I’m not sure I’d think was caramel flavored if I hadn’t made it myself.

But, I persisted and put some cute eclairs together anyway, and we each ate a few, experiencing what always happens when I’ve bitten into an eclair — everything squishes out the sides.

Such a beautifully decadent and glorious mess after only one small bite, don’t you think?

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When I asked my hunkster what he tasted, the response was, "Chocolate….and bananas."  No caramel.  But after he left, I drizzled some of the caramel sauce I made the whipped filling with over the top and oh, my goodness.  It was heavenly.  Fresh peaches and strawberries were also nice, but the chocolate glaze I made was too strong for their flavor, in my opinion.  Pretty, though.  A better idea would have been to leave the chocolate off of the top, and either sprinkle powdered sugar alone, or drizzle caramel over — especially with the peaches.

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Clearly, I need to whip up some more pate-a-choux so that my ego doesn’t stay bruised for long.

To take a gander at 12 million more eclairs, please visit the other Daring Bakers.  For the recipe I used to make the caramel filling…

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Banana Pound Cake with Chocolate Chips

Bananas, chocolate, and I go way back.  In a banana split, as far as I’m concerned, the only purpose for the ice cream is to hold up the bananas and chocolate syrup.  And frozen bananas dipped in chocolate?

I’ll never forget the first time I had one of those — Knott’s Berry Farm when I was in the 7th grade and had one of my grandmothers in tow.  Okay, so probably the other way around.  But still.

Where was I?

Bananas on cereal, banana cream pie, banana ice cream.  When you’re on a diet, sliced bananas just barely frozen and dipped into non-fat Cool Whip is a cheat for some, but have you dipped one into creamy Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey?  Shhhh….don’t tell anyone.

Bananas — I love them.  So you would think I always had them in the house, able to bask in their wonderfulness whenever I wanted, but no.  The guys in the house let them get brown.  I have to practically wave them under their noses to get them to notice, like it’s a chore to peel one and chew it.

How can anyone not sigh over the not too sweet flavor of the fruit, and realize you’ve just had dessert without all the fat, sugar, and calories?

Except there is this dessert — with bananas, of course.

And chocolate.

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