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Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Surfeit of Sugar

I've had a couple of banana-chocolate recipes in my queue, and this weekend provided an excuse to make them both--dinner at my brother's for them, us and another family. Even better, I discovered when I got out the recipes to plan and prep, one called for seven egg yolks, and the other for seven egg whites. You don't get that kind of synchronicity every day. So Saturday after dinner and bedtime, I started putting together a Ganache-Frosted Praline-Filled Banana Layer Cake and Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding.

The cake came from Lindsey over at Cafe Johnsonia. I skipped the white chocolate in the ganache in favor of the 61% Belgian Lever du Soleil I use for everything. Next time I'll use a different ganache recipe, because the straight-across substitution didn't work great--it was too stiff and didn't spread smoothly. Like Lindsey, I didn't deep-fry the sugared pecans. Too much work, too much mess. Instead, I used an easy candied pecan recipe that appeared in the newspaper as part of another recipe a while back. If I were to use them for this recipe again, I would leave out the nutmeg, which wasn't perfectly harmonious with the other flavors here. My only other complaint was that the cake was slightly dry. A minute or two less baking probably would have helped, but I think the batter would also have benefited from a yolk or two, not just egg whites.

Puréeing the banana and milk for the batter.


Adding the egg whites to the creamed butter and sugar.


The finished batter.


The baked cakes.


The pecans.


Spiced Candied Pecans

1/2 C granulated or superfine sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg (optional)
2 C pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Stir together sugar and spices in a medium bowl. Rinse pecans with cold water in a colander, then shake off excess. Toss pecans in sugar-spice mixture to coat, then spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until sugar has melted and they're starting to smell a little toasty, 15-20 minutes. Let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to a couple of days.

The beginnings of the ganache, melted in the microwave for a minute, then 30 seconds, then 20 seconds on high, stirring in between until smooth.


After whipping in the rest of the cream.


The filling, with chopped candied pecans folded in.


The final product.



Now, what you've all been waiting for:
Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding
adapted from The Dessert Bible by Christopher Kimball

6 C 1-in cubes bread (rustic white or challah; I used 1/2 a Pearl Bakery Paesano)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used the Lever du Soleil, which comes in discs)
7 large egg yolks
3/4 C sugar
2 C heavy cream
2 t vanilla
2 C whole milk
2 ripe bananas

Put about two-thirds of the bread cubes into a baking dish with high sides, either a 8x11" rectangle or two 7.5" (interior diameter) souffle dishes (I did the math on these and they were just about exactly equivalent in terms of volume). Sprinkle chocolate on top, then cover with remaining bread.


Whisk egg yolks with sugar for one minute, then whisk in cream, vanilla and milk. Put chunks of peeled banana in food processor and pulse to mash. Add 1 C of the cream mixture and process until completely smooth, scraping sides as necessary.


Whisk banana mixture into bowl with remaining cream mixture, and then pour over bread and chocolate. Press down with a rubber spatula. Let soak for at least 10 minutes and up to 24 hours (I pressed plastic wrap directly onto the surface, weighted it down with discs of chilling cookie dough, and left it in the fridge overnight).


When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Press a piece of trimmed buttered parchment directly onto the surface of the pudding, then cover dish tightly with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, then remove foil and paper and bake for 40-45 minutes more, until slightly puffed and browned, and no more than the barest bit jiggly in the middle. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving. If you really, really want to, you can serve it with caramel and/or chocolate sauce, but it is mouth-wateringly divine without any sauce at all.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Diana said...

That would look SO AWESOME if I could even remotely stomach bananas. :-)

I love bread pudding with a fiery intense love. Had a wee tiny one at a restaurant here a few weeks back and I swear I wanted to order 10 more. OMG it was good. (Never before seen bread pudding in this country so of course I had to order it. It was vanilla, no raisins. My ideal.)

Also: CAKE YUM. (Minus bananas ;-)

February 9, 2009 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger janeannechovy said...

Sorry, Di! You know, I'm not normally a banana person, but for some reason I'd just been craving them lately.

I am totally with you on NO RAISINS in bread pudding. Chocolate, yes, raisins, no.

I see more/other cakes in my future, without bananas. Another thing I've been craving.

February 9, 2009 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Cafe Johnsonia said...

I want a piece of YOUR cake. It looks awesome.

You know, someone just e-mailed me last week about that cake. I had forgotten to mention that I didn't use egg whites. I used whole eggs. I have to go back and add that part in.

I think the dark chocolate was the way to go, too, by the way.

February 9, 2009 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Cafe Johnsonia said...

And I forgot to say that the person who e-mailed me complained the cake was too dry and the ganache didn't work out like she'd wanted.

In any case, I loved the candied nuts with the ganache. (That combo was a winner in my book.)

February 9, 2009 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Patti said...

You are a good cook and it looked yummy. The best part, though was the cuties before the food. I'm anxious to see them in a few weeks.

February 10, 2009 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger janeannechovy said...

Lindsey, argh! I would have liked to have known that before! Of course, then I wouldn't have had such perfect recipe synchronicity with the bread pudding, but I could always have whipped up another batch of almond macaroons with the leftover egg whites. How many whole eggs did you use?

Mom, we're looking forward to your visit, too!

February 11, 2009 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Em said...

I'm making that bread pudding now. I just couldn't wait to have it again! And I'm going to use the other one to woo the owner of Ink & Peat. Wish me luck!

February 15, 2009 at 5:43 PM  

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