Saturday, June 30, 2012
caramel would understate the case
Bourbon burnt sugar banana pudding.
Banana pudding is typically made by layering banana slices, Nilla wafers or shortbread, and vanilla pudding. After a while the cookies break down a bit. It's a southern dessert that, like chess pie, betrays the English influence on southern cookery - in this case, that of trifle.
This isn't exactly that.
Banana pudding is sometimes topped with meringue and, lacking cookies but possessing thirty cents worth of bananas, I decided to make the sort of meringue cookies I make for Eton mess - whip egg whites stiff with cream of tartar, add a quarter cup sugar per egg white, bake at 200 for two hours and turn the oven off to sit overnight. Only, because it's humid and because I ran out of parchment paper and had to pile the cookies more densely than I would have otherwise, they came out still chewy and moist in the center - enough so that they broke as I took them off the paper.
I decided to use them as is rather than rebaking them, partly so I didn't have to wait another day to have banana pudding. So there's a complexity of textures going on here - chewy crispy custard banana. (Banana is a texture.)
As for the pudding. It really is a burnt sugar pudding, not merely caramel. It is bitter, not merely toasted. You may not like it. However, the bitterness is less pronounced once you incorporate the bananas.
I don't have proportions exactly. I had half-and-half to use up, I had some sugar, some eggs ...
1) I added some sugar to a pan and cooked it until it had melted, turned brown, and started to become alarming.
2) Removed the pan from the heat, added half-and-half - about a pint? - and stirred it until the sugar dissolved.
3) Tasted it.
5) To balance out the bitter burnt sugar, I added more fresh white sugar, and a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche. Once that was incorporated, I added a little of the hot concoction to four beaten egg yolks to temper them, then added the heated yolks to the pan and cooked everything until it thickened.
6) As I usually do with custards, I whizzed everything with the immersion blender, just to make sure there were no curdled bits - and while whizzing, added a shot of bourbon.
7) Layered banana slices in ramekins and poured the hot custard over. Refrigerated. Later topped with broken meringue cookies.