This easy breakfast casserole is berry delicious and perfect to serve for brunch or when you have overnight guests. The combination of berries creates their own sauce, so maple syrup isn’t necessary unless you want a bit more sweetness.
Ever since learning that berries are a super food, we try to eat at least a handful every day. Berries are low in calories but extremely high in nutrients. They have the highest antioxidant capacity of any food. Because of that they neutralize free radicals in your body. They’re good for your heart, help prevent cancer and new studies indicate that they are also nature’s Viagra.
Plus, they taste delicious! I add them to smoothies and toss them in salads. They’re wonderful on a bowl of granola in the morning and they are divine when baked as they are in this recipe.
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.
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.
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.
6tablespoonssugar(plus 6 teaspoons for glazing at end)
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.
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.
Whisking constantly, slowly pour cream mixture into egg yolks. A very fine stream works well. Divide custard among six small oven proof bowls.
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.
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.