Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making Banana Dessert

At Costco, a bunch of bananas is $1.32. I have two bunches in my kitchen that are ripening faster than the amount of smoothies I can make. I've already been using one banana in my smoothie instead of my usual half to prove to my mom that I'm not wasting the fruit. Solution? Why, make a banana dessert of course! (One that would use three giant bananas specifically.) But, what to make?

I seriously lacked banana inspiration. I browsed through the recipes in the Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook (2009) and found only two with bananas I could make-- one was a banana chocolate pie and the other a banana mousse. However, neither recipe spoke to me, and when I type spoke to me, I mean I didn't end up getting my usual craving of wanting to eat the photograph right out of the cookbook. I would be making either recipe to just use the bananas, but they didn't have "Eat Me" written on them like those little teacakes in Alice in Wonderland.

Therefore, I took a break from the Top Chef cookbook, made some French vanilla coffee with some vanilla soy milk (yes it was four p.m. and I was falling asleep.) Then with my coffee, I logged onto (home of the Food Network's web site), typed "bananas" into the search box and then searched for a dessert to make out of the 955 results.

Right away I knew it...Paula Deen! Comforting, Southern, and just oh so perfect for a rainy, gloomy Sunday. But, I needed to have all the ingredients in my kitchen because I really didn't feel like making a trip to the food store--so that was my Top Chef Quickfire Challenge. Good thing the cameras weren't on because I was make-up free with a pony tail and wearing grey yoga pants and an over-sized bright teal t-shirt from Forever 21.

The first Paula Deen recipes with bananas that came up were: Mom's Banana Dessert, Banana Pudding and Chocolate Banana Pie. I got tingly all over just looking at the picture of the Chocolate Banana Pie, because I knew exactly how I wanted to plate the dessert. I was going to make it sans the pie! The downside was I was going to loose my own Top Chef Quickfire Challenge because I didn't have all the ingredients. (In my defense, Robert Irvine of Dinner: Impossible always bends the rules. Like the time he secretly sent someone to get seafood for a dinner that was supposed to use ONLY the ingredients available inside a theme park.) So throwing on my Adidas black jacket and running shoes, I went to King Kullen to pick up heavy cream, ricotta cheese and cream cheese. Nine dollars later, I was home and ready to make my dessert!

When I got home the first thing I did was put 15 oz of fat free ricotta cheese into my mixer along with two bananas, 8 oz of fat free cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. I blended the ingredients until smooth and then slowly added in 3/4 cup of cocoa powder as it was mixing. When the mixture was creamy, I tasted it and felt it needed more vanilla. I added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of the extract and then another 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Now the Chocolate Banana Pie was completed, but I didn't want to plate it as Paula Deen suggested into mini pie crusts, so I choose to use two champagne glasses and four martini glasses. I filled the bottom of all six of the glasses with crushed ginger lemon cookies that I put in the food processor. Then I filled the glasses with the chocolate mixture before making homemade whipped cream that I swirled on top of the desserts.

I finished off the desserts by sprinkling more of the crushed ginger lemon cookies on top and then decided to caramelize the third banana to use for decoration. To do this, I sliced up the banana and then rolled each piece in sugar before placing them in a frying pan that I sprayed and had on medium heat. When the bananas were done (about five minutes), I decorated two of the desserts with them before I realized that because they were hot, they would melt my whipped cream. I decided to let the rest of the bananas cool before I plated them.

While I love Paula Deen because her show cracks me up, I didn't really care for this dessert too much so I would give it a B+. The Chocolate Banana Pie didn't have the pudding consistency I was hoping for due to the ricotta cheese as the base. It also didn't have a strong banana flavor so I should have used three bananas in the pudding itself instead of two. The recipe may also have been better if I layered it like a parfait in the glass with a layer of caramelized bananas, pie mixture and then cookie crumbs. I think that the parfait style would work better so its not just so much pudding and that the bananas would stand out having the pudding compliment their taste. If I were having a party, I would have plated the dessert in shot glasses instead of martini glasses because it was a very thick, rich dessert.


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  2. omg - it looks gorgeous and delicious!