Banana Crème Brûlée

Banana Crème Brûlée

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A recent lunch at the Brewster Fish House reminded us of just how much we love crème brûlée. As we wandered through the grocery store on Saturday, trying to decide what to make for dessert for a dinner with our two local daughters and their families, the Kitchen Genius decided that a banana crème brûlée would be just the thing. He thought torching sliced bananas would give it some of the flavor of another favorite dessert – bananas foster.

Banana crème brûlée is like comfort in a dish, and was especially welcome on such a cold and gloomy weekend. Making it set off a mini-series of baking that happily took up most of the afternoon on Sunday.

Banana Crème Brûlée

You want crème brûlée to be smooth and creamy. To infuse the cream with the most banana flavor I could muster, I smashed up two small bananas and placed them in a saucepan with the cream. I also cut open a whole vanilla bean and scraped the seeds into the cream and then dropped the pod in as well.

I contemplated putting a little rum in the mixture to further the association with bananas foster, but the dessert was meant for my granddaughters as well as their parents. Even though the alcohol would completely cook off, it would still leave behind a flavor that would be off-putting to children. I was going for pure custard comfort, not edgy flavors.

After simmering the mixture for 15 minutes, I then let it rest for another 15 minutes. This added to the flavor infusion and cooled the mixture enough that it would not cook the egg yolks when I combined them.

Since I didn’t want lumpy crème brûlée, I poured the infused cream through a fine mesh sieve. I couldn’t bear to discard those lovely vanilla scented bananas, so I saved them until my crème brûlée was safely tucked in a water bath in the oven. Then I decided to make banana bread.

banana-3-1

Over the years I’ve noticed that most banana bread recipes make two loaves. Two loaves might have been fine when all of my children were home, but now that there is just two of us, it’s excessive. I’m not a fan of freezing baked goods. It always changes the flavor and texture just enough that it’s not worth it. My theory is that if I’m going to indulge in calories eating something sweet, its much preferable to enjoy something freshly made.

I set out to create a one loaf recipe for banana bread and was very pleased with the results. The bread was incredibly moist, even the end pieces.

Banana Crème Brûlée
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Banana Crème Brûlée
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 small bananas , ripe (reserve 2)
  • 1 vanilla bean , cut in half with seeds scraped out
  • 6 tablespoons sugar (plus 6 teaspoons for glazing at end)
  • 6 egg yolks
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place cream, two mashed bananas, vanilla bean seeds and pod and 6 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until steam rises. Take pan off burner and set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
  2. Beat the eggs yolks until smooth in a medium size mixing bowl. Strain cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve set over a second bowl. Discard vanilla bean pod and save bananas to make banana bread.
  3. Whisking constantly, slowly pour cream mixture into egg yolks. A very fine stream works well. Divide custard among six small oven proof bowls.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with deep sides with a dish towel, making sure surface is as smooth as possible. Place individual servings of crème brûlée on top of the towel. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the bowls. Do not get any water in the crème brûlée or they will not set properly. Lightly cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until firm to the touch but still jiggly.
  5. Cool to room temperature and then chill for 2 to 3 hours. When ready to serve, slice remaining two bananas into thin slices. Fan the slices in a pretty pattern on top of the crème brûlées. Evenly sprinkle 1 teaspoon on top of each dish. With a kitchen torch, move the flame in continuous circles until sugar bubbles up and turns golden brown. Serve immediately.
    Banana Crème Brûlée
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apple bread pudding 2

Apple Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Our family gatherings just got a whole bunch bigger. My youngest brother recently moved to the Cape along with his wife and four children. Our weekly family dinners were averaging about 10 to 12 people. Add six more and it’s quite a crowd. But somehow we have managed to pull off fabulous dinners two weekends in a row.

My mother suggested early on that all dinners by necessity should be pot lucks, with everybody contributing something. Our house is the biggest so we usually host. At first I was worried that our little rescue puppy Cooper would lose his mind over all those people invading his territory. He suffered from a pretty bad case of fear aggression in his first months with us. Even though he only weighs seven pounds, when he is frightened he is seven pounds of charging fury.

 

Coops 2
Best buds Sadie and Cooper love to rest in the sun

I spent about six months reading every dog training book I could find. About two months ago, he finally relaxed and realized our house is safe. But just to be sure, I warned my brother’s kids to leave him alone. Thankfully they are well-behaved children who listen well. Even so, I never leave him in the room alone with a child. It’s not safe for him or the kids.

Besides, it’s not like we don’t have plenty of other pets that are child friendly. Our other miniature dachshund, Sadie, loves children and has gone camping with my brother’s kids every year so she knows them. Our cat Chloe is so friendly that she hugs people. Even the chickens allow the kids to pick them up.

Gini and Molly
Our niece Gini May holding a very cooperative chicken named Molly.

Before everyone arrives, the Kitchen Genius builds a fire in our fire pit. There is plenty of seating down there and most gatherings begin with everyone catching up around the fire. After dinner, the guys tend to go back to the fire. Others sit at our dining room table and the young mothers tend to gather in the living room with their babies.

Our menu for our first gathering was simple. Shaw’s had chicken thighs on sale, buy one, get one free. We bought six packages and KG barbecued them over the fire. My mother brought potato salad and I made macaroni salad and baked beans. I sliced up a watermelon and KG put out jars of homemade pickles.

In true KG form, dessert was inspired by ingredients we had on hand. We had a loaf of homemade bread and a bag of apples in the refrigerator. Apple bread pudding was an obvious choice. I spruced up the homey dessert with some bourbon sauce and it became a recipe we will make again.

apple bread pudding 1

The trick to a good bread pudding is to make sure the bread really soaks up the milk and eggs. You need to let it rest for about a half an hour before baking it. The mixture of milk and eggs should be about three-quarters of the way up the side of the pan. Otherwise you have a dry and bready dessert rather than the tender custard you are seeking.

Apple Bread Pudding
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Servings
12-15
Servings
12-15
Apple Bread Pudding
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
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Servings
12-15
Servings
12-15
Ingredients
Apple Bread Pudding
  • 8 cups stale bread , cut into cubes
  • 4 Macintosh apples , peeled and diced (3 cups)
  • 10 eggs, , beaten
  • 5 cups whole organic milk
  • 3/4 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Bourbon Sauce
  • 2 cups organic heavy cream
  • 1/2 organic whole milk
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons organic salted butter
Servings:
Instructions
Apple Bread Pudding
  1. Place bread cubes in a deep dish 13 by 9 pan and toss with apples until well distributed. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over bread and apples and let rest for a half an hour. Press bread down into the egg mixture several times, including just before baking.
  2. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Since ovens vary, I often check it at about 50 minutes and then every five to ten minutes after that. Serve warm with bourbon sauce.
Bourbon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, milk and sugar. Mix corn starch and bourbon together in a small bowl to make a slurry. When cream mixture is hot, add the bourbon slurry and whisk to combine. Bring sauce to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook for five minutes to burn off the alcohol. Remove saucepan from burner and whisk in salt and butter. Serve warm.
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