Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bananas Foster Fritters

You will never hear me complain about a spike of alcohol in my sweets. I adore hints of rum, small batch whiskey, or brandy laced into my dessert recipe or freshly whipped cream. The winner for me in today's recipe was the rum dipping sauce. The Banana Foster Fritters are amazing on their own and so full of flavor but I cannot imagine this recipe without the silky sauce to finish them off with.

Taking from my learning experience with the Buttermilk Farmstand Doughnuts, I knew I had to be a bit more patient in testing the oil temp and cooking time with my fritters. A flashback to my previous doughnut frying experience had me on recall that the temp the book suggested was too high and my doughnuts fried on the outside and were still doughy on the inside. Being 'new' I had fired off too many of the donuts out of the gate and didn't have much dough left to work with in 'getting it right'.

On this occasion after getting the oil up to suggested temp of 375, I tested one lonely fritter and although it tasted good, it was a bit overcooked on the outside and not quite finished on the inside. Similar to last time. Ultimately I kept the temp between 300 and 325 and baby sat my little fritters so they cooked about 8 minutes overall and finished with a nice color; not too dark on the outside and cooked (without being overly dry-a tad moist) on the inside.

Now- the rum dipping sauce (yum)...easy to make, and the 'fritter dunk' = Pure Deliciousness
Overall this was an easy to follow recipe with basic ingredients and the assembly process, simple. I give the Bananas Foster Fritters an A+ in the flavor category.


Dipping Sauce
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon banana liqueur (or pure vanilla extract)
2 tablespoons dark rum
Pinch cinnamon (optional)
Fritter Dough
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 medium ripe bananas
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon banana liqueur or pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar


Rum Dipping Sauce
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the liqueur, rum, and cinnamon, if using. Set aside until serving time. (The sauce can be made ahead. Allow it to cool, then cover it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Rewarm it over low heat in a saucepan or microwave it on short 15 second blasts before serving.)

Fritter Dough
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, all-spice, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Use your hands to run the chunks of sugar into the flour mixture and whisk again (it is okay to have a few chunky sugar pieces remaining).

In another large bowl, mash the bananas with your hands or a heavy spoon and stir in the rum, liqueur, and butter.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the banana mixture. The mix should look wet, but but should still hold its shape when scooped into a small ball. If the dough is too thin, keep folding in the flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it stiffens up. Refrigerate the dough while the frying oil heats and you prepare the sugar topping.

Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to fill 3/4 inch to 1 inch deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium-high heat until it registers 375 degrees F on a deep-frying thermometer.

While the oil heats, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.

Fry the Fritters
Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels and set it near your work area.

Using a small spatula and a small spoon, two spoons, or an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping spoonfuls of dough into the oil. Do not crowd the skillet. Cook until the fritters have browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, turn them over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, or until browned. Do not overcook or burn the fritters. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the fritters to the prepared plate and continue frying dough until finished. 

Place the fritters on a serving plate and sift the cinnamon sugar over them. Serve immediately with rum dipping sauce.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Boston Cream Pie Cake

As the Club Baked group works its way through Baked Explorations - Class American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito, I find myself continuing to learn new things and on a journey of surprise since the outcome is so unknown and the recipes present new challenges.

I have never eaten Boston Cream Pie in my life but have desperately wanted to especially after seeing an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay when Eunice Feller of Bread and Chocolate battled against Flay in a BCP challenge. Her cake consists of mostly that amazing vanilla cream custard (heaven) and the construction of her cake had me dreaming of it for days afterwards. Simply Amazing!Now here I am making and eating my first Boston Cream Pie!

While I didn't feel like my cake was hugely successful from an aesthetics standpoint, I realize it is my first time and I am gaining experience. The cake was delicious and in particular the vanilla custard! Wow! Very delicious when you put all three layers of chocolate, cake, and custard in one bite. This is a cake worth making at least one time and you don't necessarily have to do the whole thing, you can halve the recipe, use smaller cake tins and do two layers as opposed to four.


Sponge Cake
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pastry Cream Filling

7 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cornstarch
3 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light rum
6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 - 72%), finely chopped

Chocolate Glaze
5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, (60 - 72%), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter


Milk Sponge Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the butter and milk until the butter is just melted. Do not overheat. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture is pale and had tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and sprinkle with a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture. Gently fold the two together, using a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the flour mixture and fold again.
Add the warm mixture ( if it has cooled completely, reheat it slightly) to the batter and gently fold until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The cake might appear wobbly if you shake the pan, but if pressed gently in the middle, it should spring back.
Transfer the cake pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Pastry Cream Filling
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, the salt, and cornstarch until the mixture is pale, thick, and smooth.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the milk and the remaining half of the sugar. Continue stirring until the mixture boils. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour about a third of the liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer the tempered egg mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and, whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and strain through a fine meshed sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and rum until combined.

Scoop a third of the pastry cream into a different bowl and set it aside. Add the chocolate to the warm pastry cream remaining in the pan and stir until melted and smooth. Scoop the chocolate cream into a bowl. Once both pastry creams have cooled for about 15 minutes, wrap both bowls in a plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Glaze
Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.

In another small saucepan, combine the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and salt with 1/4 cup water. Place the pan over low heat and warm, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter. Whisk to release excess heat, then add the reserved chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Set the sauce aside; it will thicken while you assemble the cake.

Assemble the Boston Cream Pie Cake
Using a serrated knife, cut the cake layers in half horizontally. Place the first cake layer on a platter and scoop half of the chocolate pastry cream on top. Spread the cream evenly to the cake's edges using an offset spatula.

Add a second cake layer and cover that with vanilla cream.
Add a third cake layer and cover it with the remaining chocolate cream.
Place the last cake layer on top and press gently with your palms to help the cake layers adhere to the pastry cream.

Very slowly, pour the thickened chocolate glaze onto the center of the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread it out to the edges so that it drips down the sides of the cake. Let the sauce thicken for about 20 minutes before serving.

The cake tastes best when eaten within 24 hours. If you have leftovers, tent the entire cake in foil and refrigerate. Serve it chilled or at room temperature.


Source: Baked Explorations