FAIL! With a big, stinkin', capital 'F', That was the result of my original recipe creation intended for this post, which I actually started about one week ago (thus the blogging hiatus.) Here was an idea that I thought was so creative that I couldn't stop patting my clever little self on the back. Heck, I practically threw myself a parade. Yeah.....it didn't really turn out the way that I had envisioned.
But before I get ahead of myself, let me back up a bit. Ten days ago, I flew up to San Francisco for the day to attend the semi-annual Fancy Food Show, an overwhelmingly immense gourmet foods convention put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Featuring thousands of food and beverage product from all over the world, this show serves as one-stop-shopping for all of the gourmet grocery owners, distributors, brokers, and wholesalers. You can also think of it as trick-or-treating for foodies, since the various booths like to give out free samples. It's fairly easy to tell which attendees are there for business and which are there because their daughter/cousin/friend got them a badge. These are the folks who are racing through the aisles in running shoes, carrying eight shopping bags overflowing with artisanal chocolates and sample-size balsamic vinegar.
This was my fourth time attending the show, but my first time attending as a potential future exhibitor. My goal is to have a booth for my line of granola at the summer show in N.Y.C., which is a bit lofty seeing as I am still a one-woman production, and these shows are attended by thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) of people. Starting to hyperventilate.......deep breaths.......I can do this.
O.K. I'm better now. A shot of tequila works wonders, you know? Anyhow, I was checking out the various booth layouts, what I thought worked and what I needed to remember not to do. Of course I had to check out my competition too: "Hi there, (insert inferior granola company name here). I'm just a regular, run-of-the-mill show attendee who has nothing at all to do with the granola-making business, and I wanted to sample your product. Mind if I ask you a few questions and take some literature?" A bit devious, yes, but we all know that the granola business is notoriously cut-throat, right up there with investment banking, so it had to be done.
Fortunately, apart from my sleuthing, I had plenty of time to wander the show and see what sorts of new products are out there. Two big players this year (and every year for that matter) were cheese and chocolate, commanding aisle upon aisle of booths. The best cheese that I tried was called Sharfe Maxx, a nutty and veeerrrryyy pungent Swiss varietal, a wheel of which will cost you as much as a pair of smokin' hot Louboutins. Dagoba is always a top chocolatier on my must-visit list, with their spicy Xocolatl bar being my favorite, deeply rich New Moon a close second. I also visited the Vosges chocolate booth (well, I visited all of the chocolate booths), a company that 99% of the time hits the culinary nail on the head. Their Mo's Bacon Bar is nothing short of genius, after all. That said, I think that they may have crossed the line with the Enchanted Mushroom candy bar. In a word, blecchh. No thank you. I'll stick to bacon. Finally, although I am not vegan, I have found the company that just might convert me. Field Roast Grain Meat Company's line of vegan sausages, roasts, and cutlets, are, in another word, outstanding. You cannot tell that you are not eating meat--trust me. I'm going to try to fool my husband. I'll let you know the results. In the meantime, I recommend their Mexican Chipotle Sausage.
And now, back to my not-so-clever clever idea. This year, a special committee was commissioned to select the five top food trends found at the Fancy Food Show. These trends were (drum roll): gluten-free (this stuff is everywhere), coconut, good-for-you foods, citrus, and nostalgic foods. So I thought, Hey! Why not create a recipe that incorporates all five of these food trends?? That would be a perfect tie-in to my post. Genius! Why not, Julie? Why not you ask? I'll tell you why not. Because you've never, EVER created a gluten-free baked good in your life, and they (apparently) require a bit more expertise than just "winging it." Had I omitted the gluten-free part, my very nostalgic, citrus-y, coco-nutty, and sort-of good for you whole grain chocolate chunk coconut cookies with a hint of orange zest might have been edible as opposed to grainy, cakey, falling apart, and once again, blecchh. Clearly I need a bit more gluten-free schooling. Fortunately, my lovely friend Amy has a gluten (and sugar) free blog with wonderful recipes that actually work, so I'm going to defer to her for the time being. So now what the heck was I supposed to make for my blog? Well.......
Thank goodness that the Saints won the play-offs, and I say this as a loyal and devoted Patriots fan. I don't know what foods they are known for eating in Indianapolis, but having a team from the culinary mecca of New Orleans in the Super Bowl gives me plenty of ideas for blog posts over the next ten days. I'll try to get in at least three--TRY being the operative word. This first recipe was inspired by a few of the Crescent City's finest sweet treats....and an oversupply of bananas on my kitchen counter. Banana's Foster is associated with The Big Easy (don'tcha just love all the nicknames?) more-so than Banana Pudding, which is a generally southern dessert. I turned the banana pudding into a black-bottom puddin' pie with a layer of rich ganache over a vanilla wafer crust. In case this isn't decadent enough for you, I've added a traditional rum-soaked Bananas Foster sauce on top. I really just wanted an excuse to flambe something---so much fun! Here are a few extra tips for making this twist on two traditional N'Awlins classics:
- Banana liqueur in both the pudding and the sauce can be substituted with banana extract or even vanilla extract. The rum can be replace with either brandy or bourbon.
- If you don't have a vanilla bean on hand, simply use a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract in its place. Add the vanilla along with the egg yolks as opposed to along with the milk.
- Use the leftover vanilla bean to make vanilla-flavored sugar. Rinse the pudding from the bean and then wrap it in paper towels to dry. When the bean is dry, place it in a container with sugar, and it will flavor the sugar.
- The ganache in this recipe is optional, and the pie is still spectacular without the chocolate.
- Leftover warm Bananas Foster sauce tastes great spooned over vanilla bean ice cream.
Black Bottom Bananas Foster Puddin' Pie
Recipe serves 8-10
For the crust
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
For the chocolate ganache layer (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
For the banana pudding filling
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 tablespoon banana liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 firm bananas, slice into 1/4-inch thick slices
For the Bananas Foster topping
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon banana liqueur
1 firm banana, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup dark rum
Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the sugar, salt, and the butter until well blended. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, until it just starts to turn golden brown. Let cool.
Prepare the ganache: Combine the chocolate, butter, vanilla and cream in a small saucepan. Set the saucepan over low heat and stir until the chocolate and butter melt and the mixture is smooth. Spread the ganache over the prepared crust, covering the bottom completely. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
Prepare the pudding filling: In a 3-quart saucepan, whisk together the sugar and the cornstarch. Place the saucepan over medium heat and gradually stir in the milk. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan (reserve the pod for another use.) Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the butter, banana liqueur, rum, and salt. Gradually whisk in the egg yolks. Place the pan back over medium-low heat and, whisking constantly, bring it back to a simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Place half of the banana slices in one layer on top of the ganache. Spoon half of the pudding over the bananas and smooth with a spatula. Add a second layer of banana slices and top with the rest of the pudding. Chill the pie for at least 3 hours.
Prepare the Bananas Foster sauce: Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over low heat. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the banana liqueur and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the bananas and cook for about 30 seconds on each side, spooning with the sauce as they cook. Remove the bananas to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Bring the sauce to a simmer and carefully add the rum. If the alcohol does not ignite on its own, carefully light it using a long match or lighter. Continue to cook the sauce until the flame dies down and continue to cook until the sauce reaches a syrupy consistency. Add the sauce to the bananas in the bowl.
Serve the slices of pie topped with the bananas foster sauce (and either ice cream or whipped cream if you are feeling extra decadent.)