Saturday, June 30, 2012

caramel would understate the case

Bourbon burnt sugar banana pudding
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.

4) Horrible!

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.

Bourbon burnt sugar banana pudding

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