Going bananas


Edward Russell, Wikimedia Commons

Adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes a serving of banana pudding even better.

 

Normally, when bananas start getting brown spots on them, I won’t eat them as a snack. I much prefer them with a tinge of green. I also use those for that classic dessert made with Vanilla Wafers, vanilla (or banana) pudding, whipped topping and of course, fresh bananas.


My freezer has quite a few blackish blobs wrapped in plastic wrap. Those are the super-ripe bananas just waiting to be made into a delicious dessert.


I have met a few (very few) people who do not like bananas in any way, shape or form. I am hoping if anyone reading this hates bananas, they will be very forgiving of this week’s subject matter. For all others, I think they will find something here that a-peels to them. Couldn’t resist a bit of humor.


Banana oatmeal cookies


3/4 cup butter, softened


1 cup brown sugar


1/2 cup sugar


1 egg


1 teaspoon vanilla


1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (about 3)


1 1/2 cups flour


1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


1 teaspoon baking soda


3 cups old-fashioned oats


1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.


2. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar and sugar. Mix in egg, vanilla and mashed bananas.


3. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda and cinnamon until combined. Stir in oats.4. Drop about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough on cookie sheet, keeping each one about 1 inch apart. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Makes 24 cookies.


Chocolate chip banana bars


1 2/3 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (about 5)


3/4 cup brown sugar


1/4 cup oil (can use coconut oil, if desired)


1/4 cup milk


2 eggs


1 3/4 cup flour


1 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided


1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 15-by-10.5-inch baking pan with cooking spray.


2. In a large bowl, place the mashed bananas. Stir in brown sugar, oil, milk and eggs until combined. Add in dry ingredients and stir. Fold in half the chocolate chips.


3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle remaining chips on top. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares. Makes 24 bars.


Banana bread pudding


Any bread can work well in a bread pudding recipe.


1 loaf (16-oz.) French bread, cut into 1-to-2-inch cubes


4 eggs


1 cup heavy cream


1 1/2 cups milk


1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk


1 cup brown sugar


1 tablespoon vanilla


1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


1/4 teaspoon allspice


1/2 teaspoon salt


4 ripe bananas, mashed


1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, divided (optional)


Caramel sauce:


1/2 cup brown sugar


3 tablespoons butter


1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Splash of milk


1. Preheat oven to 350. Place the cubed bread in a large bowl and set aside.


2. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt until combined.


3. Stir in the mashed bananas and 1 cup chopped nuts (if using). Pour over the bread cubes and stir to coat. Allow mixture to stand for about 20 minutes.


4. Meanwhile, spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.


5. Once bread is soaked, spread into baking dish, sprinkle with remaining nuts and bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until center is no longer jiggly and bread is slightly toasted on top. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.


6. To make the caramel sauce: In a microwave-safe bowl, add the brown sugar, butter, vanilla and milk and microwave until it starts to bubble (or heat on stove until bubbly), stirring every 30 seconds. Pour over bread pudding, slice and serve. Makes 12 servings.


Classic banana cream pie


I looked for this recipe so I could share it with you, and was forced to realize that I am not as organized as I thought I was. I copied this recipe from a magazine several decades ago (yes, they had copy machines back then), but I did not indicate which magazine it came from. All I know for sure is that this made the best banana cream pie I have ever had, even though it seemed like a lot of work. There are no instant shortcuts, but I found it to be worth my time.


Pastry crust:


1 cup all-purpose flour


2 tablespoons sugar


1/2 teaspoon salt


4 tablespoons chilled butter


2 tablespoons vegetable shortening


1 egg yolk


2 tablespoons ice water


Vanilla custard:


2 cups milk


1/3 cup sugar


1/4 teaspoon salt


3 egg yolks


1 cup half-and-half


6 tablespoons cornstarch


1 tablespoon butter


1 teaspoon vanilla


1 cup heavy cream


1 tablespoon sugar


2 medium bananas


1. For the crust: Place the flour, sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process 5 seconds. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces and add to the processor along with the vegetable shortening. Process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 5 seconds. Add the egg yolk and ice water and pulse 3 to 4 times until dough begins to hold together. Press dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or overnight).


2. Roll out dough to a 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan and trim away excess pastry. Use a spoon to decorate the edge of the rim with half-moon indentations. Freeze for 10 minutes.


3. For cooking, adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 425. Line the crust with buttered aluminum foil, shiny side down, and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350. Remove foil and beans or weights and return crust to oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.


4. For the custard: Bring the milk, sugar and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a separate saucepan. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, half-and-half and cornstarch together. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg yolks, set the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk constantly until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency, 7 to 10 minutes.


5. Remove custard from heat, whisk in butter and vanilla, and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and cool to room temperature.


6. For assembly: Whip the cream with the sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Spread one-third of the custard over the baked crust. Slice and distribute one of the bananas evenly over the custard. Top with half of the remaining custard. Cut off and reserve one-quarter of the second banana, for garnish. Slice and evenly distribute remaining banana over custard; top with remaining custard and whipped cream.

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