Banana Coconut Creme Brulee
A journalist contacted me this week and asked if she could use my crème brulée photos. Not that I need much prompting, but it got me thinking of crèmes brulées and I thought I could try out some new flavors.
I happened to have baby bananas in the house, along with some leftover shredded coconut from making lima bean curry. The mini bananas come from Guatemala. They are very sweet and flavorful. I caramelized them in sugar and used them as garnish. I flavored the custard with the shredded coconut, rum and banana extract. The result is a very pleasant dessert using ingredients that are available this season. Can't wait for spring to experiment with more flavors!
Yields: 6 mini-ramekins2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
½ vanilla bean
1-½ tablespoons banana extract
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup fresh coconut, shredded
2/3 cup vanilla chips (4 ounces)
¼ cup granulated sugar, for caramelizing
2 baby bananas
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon coconut flakes (optional), slightly toasted
6 fresh mint leaves (optional), for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In a saucepan, combine the cream and milk. Bring to a near boil. Add the shredded coconut. Turn off the heat and immediately add the vanilla chips. Using a spatula, keep stirring until the chocolate is fully incorporated (see tips). Strain the dairy liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the coconut solids.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with superfine sugar until they become pale yellow. Add the banana and rum extracts and salt.
Combine the dairy liquid with the egg mixture by slowly adding a ladle of the dairy liquid at a time to prevent the yolks from curdling (it's called tempering).
Strain one more time through a fine mesh and discard all the solids (if any).
Fill 6 (2-ounce) ramekins with the crème brulée custard. Place them in a warm water bath in a deep baking pan. The water should go half-way up the side of the ramekins (at least a 1-½-inch-high level of water). Loosely cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. The texture of the crèmes brulées should be a little jiggly but not liquid (the custard will get firmer and creamier as it chills in the refrigerator).
Allow the crèmes brulées to cool completely first, then plastic-wrap each individual cup and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. The fat from the cream may pick up other food odors from the refrigerator if the cups are not sealed properly.
For the bananas: Peel and slice the bananas. Coat them with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Place the sliced bananas in a small pan over high heat. Sprinkle with the granulated sugar and cook until all the bananas are coated on both sides and caramelized but still firm.
When serving, unwrap the cups and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of sugar in each cup, then caramelize with a culinary torch.
Garnish the crèmes brulées with the bananas. Sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes and finish with a fresh mint leaf.
If you want to make an adult version, you can add real rum to the custard in place of rum extract.
I used Guittard vanilla chips but if you can't find any, you can replace them with white chocolate chips.
A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the dessert and enhances its sweetness.
Shredded coconut gives a rich, creamy texture and wonderful aroma to the custard. I used fresh coconut. First, I opened the coconut using a cleaver. Be very careful if you do. (I usually lay out some newspaper underneath a large wooden cutting board) Then, scrape out the coconut flesh using a coconut grater.
I just bought a coconut grater in a Korean store. I love it!
If you don't have fresh coconut on hand, you can substitute 1-½ teaspoons of coconut extract.
If you don't have baby bananas (more intense in flavor), you could use regular-sized bananas. You might want to cut the banana slices in quarters so they don't look disproportionate in the mini-ramekins.
While letting the chocolate steep in the dairy mixture, it's preferable to stir the mixture until the liquid is smooth rather than whisking, to create as little milk froth as possible. You don't want a latte foam to form.
If you don't own a blow torch, you can place the crèmes brulées under the broiler until the sugar caramelizes. But if you decide to make this dessert quite often as we do, a culinary torch is a good investment.
Set aside the egg whites in the refrigerator and save them for making tuiles cookies (literally "roof tiles" in French), meringues or French macarons.March 19, 2010.