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Spice It! Bananas Foster

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I like bananas–by themselves. I realize I am in the minority here and apparently missing out on all kinds of deliciousness! This was the first recipe utilizing cinnamon that I received from Cardie Mortimer, a Verona resident who has left behind a career as a TV producer to become an executive chef. I’m happy to say that not only did he give me this recipe for the series, but he also included the rich history of Bananas Foster. Read on and enjoy!

Mortimer writes, “The history of the recipe is incredible. The dish itself was made by a chef named Paul Blangé for one of their best customers (Richard Foster) using leftovers and whatever was ever on hand in the kitchen. During one evening in the early 1950s, the restaurant literally ran out of cakes and pies. There was some vanilla ice cream in the freezer too. The story that I have heard from many great chefs down in The Big Easy also includes Mrs. Brennan (the owner and the matriarch of New Orleans cuisine as we know it today) who was said to have been the one to break out the dark rum and the cinnamon. Whatever they concocted the recipe that I do today in my private catering business still stuns and delights even the biggest and most knowledgeable dessert lovers!”  This version is set within a homemade chocolate cookie basket with fresh Saigon cinnamon and vanilla bean ice cream.

Chef Cardie’s Banana’s Foster Bread Pudding

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon ground Saigon cinnamon
  • 8 firm bananas, peeled and cut crosswise or into 1 inch cubes sliced on the bias
  • 1/4 cup of Crème De Banana liqueur
  • 3/4 cup dark rum
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (1/2-inch cubes) of day-old French bread, baguettes or croissants
  • 1 plastic container of caramel sauce (available at King’s and most grocery stores)
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnishing

What’s Next:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 10″ x 14″ baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Melt 8 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar and the cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the bananas and cook on both sides, turning, until the bananas start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Add the banana liqueur and stir to blend.
  5. Take the hot pan off the stove and carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth to warm the rum and flame the pan. You can flame the mixture by slightly tilting the pan towards the gas flame or using a kitchen igniter. Be careful with this “showmanship” step and, please, no kids are allowed near the stove. Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas, until the flame dies down. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  6. Whisk together eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar,  cream, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  7. Add the cooled banana mixture and the cut up bread and stir to blend thoroughly. The key to perfect bread pudding is having the bread completely immersed so it soaks up the liquid.
  8. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake until firm for about 55 minutes to 1 hour. Do not burn.
  9. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
  10. To serve, make your own little design of caramel sauce on the bottom of the plate. Scoop the pudding onto dessert plates. Top each serving with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  11. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint on top for a truly delicious and unforgettable New Orleans dessert!

The Spice It! series was inspired by the gift of a large amount of cinnamon my mother-in-law brought me from Ecuador. It includes recipes from Verona chefs and chefs with Verona connections. You can follow this series and all of my cooking adventures on Twitter: @TracyCooksIt

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