Each year, I live for that two month period that begins with Halloween and sees me through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I’m totally grateful that it’s filled with family, fun and way, I mean way too much food. It’s a whirlwind of turkeys, hams, cookies, cakes and lots and lots of sugar. In fact, I think I need to detox from all the sugar still in my system.
But alas, it’s January 6th and the party’s over. The east coast friends have all gone home, the kid’s back at school and Mama is left jonesing for her next gig. Just business as usual. And so, I set my sights on Super Bowl Sunday.
The truth is, I don’t even like football, (did I just hear a gasp from all over America). But I love all the commercials, and who doesn’t love a good ‘ol half-time show. Ok, so just me. I know it’s a little far in advance, but I’ve already started planning my menu for game day. For dessert, I decided to serve these Banana Cream Pie Mini Shooters. Their taste scores a touchdown, but their small size won’t hit ‘ya in the end zone if you know what I mean. I know, lame football humor…
Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean – split down center
- 5 large egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons baker’s sugar (superfine)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 6 teaspoons corn starch
- 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
- 1 medium ripe banana
- 1 medium banana
- 5 graham crackers
- 1/3 cup almonds (blanched or sliced, optional)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Extra almonds for garnish
- In a medium size pot over medium heat warm the milk and the vanilla bean just until boiling. Just as it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and the sugar on medium speed until it becomes pale and thick. Reduce the mixer to low and stir in the flour and cornstarch, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides periodically. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk, and slowly stir the milk into the egg/flour mixture.
- Pour this mixture back into your pot and heat gently over a medium heat. Using a wire whisk (if you don’t have one, a wooden spoon will work also), continuously whisk the mixture until it thickens and comes to a boil. Boil for one minute and keep on whisking so that lumps do not form and the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for a minute or two then pour the mixture into a large bowl to cool. Cover the surface of the mixture with plastic wrap so that a skin doesn’t form.
- You can make this pastry cream a day in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator.
- When you’re ready to use the pastry cream, take the ripe banana and with a fork or the back of a spoon, mash the banana until it’s almost like a puree. Then whisk it into the pastry cream. If you choose to use the coconut, whisk it into the pastry cream.
- Place the graham crackers and almonds in a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs, transfer to bowl and set aside.
- In a medium bowl beat (either with a stand mixer with whisk attachment, hand mixer or wire whisk) the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. You can make the whipped cream in advance too, just cover and keep in the fridge a day in advance.
- To assemble the shooters: Place two teaspoons of the crumbs into the bottom of the shot glass. Slice the remaining banana into 1/2″ slices, and place the banana on top of the crumbs. You can spoon the pastry cream into the shot glass or you can pipe it in with a pastry bag. Using a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe the whipped cream on top of the pastry cream layer. Garnish with sliced almonds, sliced bananas or toasted coconut.
Makes 10 shooters (approximately 2.5 ounces each)
The pastry cream can be made a day in advance. When the cream has cooled, cover the surface with plastic wrap so a skin will not form and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
The whipped cream can be made in advance also. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and then transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
The graham cracker crumbs can be made a day in advance. Just store in a covered container until ready to use.
I add the nuts to the graham crackers because it gives the crumbs some added texture which is a nice compliment to the banana cream. However, if you or someone else has a nut allergy then just eliminate them from the recipe.
I think everyone should have a good banana bread recipe in their baking repertoire. It’s just a good go-to cake that lends itself to many occasions. This is a great bread to bring to showers and brunches, birthdays and lunches. It’s great with a cup of coffee or tea, and even a big glass of milk.
This particular recipe comes to us from my good friend Gail Berger. She is a baker extraordinaire. We met while we were both attending a professional baking program and have been culinary soul mates ever since. Gail is definitely a kindred spirit and we spend many hours on end together trolling the bakeries, cafes and eateries of Los Angeles searching for the ultimate in baked goods. Yeah, we complain about our weight a lot, usually as we’re downing a chocolate chip cheesecake or an expertly crafted dobos torte. But we continue relentlessly on our journey in search of that holy grail of baked goods.
I think you’ll be as pleased with Gail’s recipe as I was. It’s extremely moist (which is actually a term I find bizarre in describing food items), the walnuts give the bread a nice crunch, and the dates add a pleasing texture to the bread. When I wrapped this bread in plastic wrap and let it sit over night the flavors in it melded together and tasted better the second day. You might just want to try that approach.
Banana Date-Walnut Bread
Recipe Courtesy of My Friend Gail Berger
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (if you don’t have it, you can use powdered)
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
- 6 dates chopped (tossed in 1 teaspoon of flour to keep them separated)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with melted butter.
- In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
- Cut up the bananas in chunks and place in a large bowl and mash them with a spoon. Take the banana mixture and place it into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and add the sugar. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it’s light and fluffy. Add the butter, eggs and vanilla extract and beat on medium, just until incorporated. Scape sown the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed just until ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the nuts and dates.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and give it a good rap on the counter to get out any air bubbles.
- Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in pan for about a half-hour and then turn out to cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Ya know, I don’t want to say I’m obsessed with cake, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about it. Much more than the average person I suppose. I think about important things too; world peace, the economy, and conservation. But, at the end of the day when my psyche needs a little relaxation…I think about cake.
The cake I decided to bake today contains all the ingredients that I hold near and dear to me; melted chocolate, bananas, toasted nuts and chocolate chips. And, just to kick things up a notch, I included the addition of Vietnamese cinnamon. So, this way, I can savor all my favorites in one tasty bite. This cake is easy to make and has a nice layering of flavors. Even if you don’t think about cake very much, you might still want to give this one a try. It’s real good!
Chocolate Banana Bread
Adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 3 very ripe bananas
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until lightened, then beat in the chocolate, eggs, bananas and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Do not over mix. Gently stir in the chips and walnuts.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, 50-60 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.
Makes 1 loaf
Let’s face it, when you get to be a certain age you can’t always eat everything and anything you want. In my younger days I could live for a week on nothing but chocolate chip cookies. I really could. Those days are over, and that’s why I can only make this particular cake once every couple of months, because I’ve been known to eat the entire thing. Banana, chocolate and pecans is my all-time favorite flavor combination.
This is a dense, moist cake and it’s full of banana flavor. Just make sure you use overly ripe bananas. Also, I use the mini-chips because the regular sized chocolate chips will overwhelm the banana, and it’s the banana that’s the star of this cake. And then, I love the added crunch the toasted pecans add to the cake. For me, this is the ultimate in comfort food.
Adapted from Silver Palate Cookbook
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet morsels
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 in loaf pan.
2. In bowl of electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one a time until incorporated.
3. Sift all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt together, stir in whole wheat flour and add to creamed mixture, mixing well.
4. Fold in mashed bananas, vanilla, nuts and chips.
5. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then place on cooling rack.
Makes 1 loaf