I've entered a cooking contest. Sort of. It's actually the University of Miami's United Way Dessert Extravaganza. Raise money for charity is, at least putatively, the primary goal, but with an expected attendance of around two dozen and a ten dollar admission it seems like a whole lot of bother for not a lot of benefit. My charity dollar goes to Kiva loans so I've ignored the whole workplace-based charity drive so far, but the desserts are to be judged and I have got some pretty good recipes so what the heck.
But what to make? Ice cream is the obvious way to go. Real ice cream. Sorbet may be nice, but low fat doesn't win contests. One of my own recipes of course. Nothing too pricy since I have to make 25 servings. That rules out anything with nuts or out-of-season fruit (which is generally worse than cheaper in-season fruit anyway). And it's got to be not too challenging, but not so straightforward that it doesn't make an impact. And there's going to be free fancy coffees so something that goes well with that. To my mind, that rules out mocha which would otherwise fit the bill. Too matchy matchy, you know?
And definitely something I've made before so I know what I'm doing. The particular recipe I settled on is one I made before starting the blog that went over quite well at the time. I've mentioned it as part of another post early but it hasn't had a full write up so I'll go over the details now.
It's based on a Lebovitz roasted-banana ice cream recipe but crossed with Good Eats recipe for bananas foster and modified a bit beyond to make sure it works right. It's kind of beige on its own so I decided to add the caramel swirl from the last ice cream with a bit of spice repurposed as a hot topping. I've been shopping around for a microwavable squeezy bottle, but I can't find one so I'm going to have to drizzle with a spoon when I serve.
Here's the recipe. I'll post again after the contest.
Bananas Foster Ice Cream
3 medium ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup or 70 grams packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup light rum
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the bananas into 1/2-inch pieces, toss with brown sugar and butter and lay out on a cookie sheet or baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on how spread out the bananas are, stirring once or twice and checking diligently for burning. Remove pan when they are browned, cooked through, and a caramel is just starting to form.
Scrape the bananas, sauce and caramel into a blender or food processor. Add everything else and puree until smooth. Chill in refrigerator to 40 degrees F (overnight is best) and see how thick it is. Mine had solidified into a pudding texture both times and could well have been served just like that. Instead I whisked in another 1/2 cup of milk before churning. Your results will depend on your bananas.
The actual churning takes quite a while since all that rum keeps the mix from solidifying properly. That means you can churn in as much air as you'd like, but I'd keep it under 50% increase in volume or the texture will suffer.
Now, that's how I made it the first time around, but the pictures are from the double batch I'm making now. For the amounts listed above, one baking dish is fine. I actually used a slightly larger one and ended up with well-separated banana slices interspersed with thickening puddles of sugar syrup. This time, the baking dish was filled with baked-out banana juices and I had to cook twice as long to get things even close to a proper caramel. The results don't really have the texture or flavor of the recipe properly made. Unfortunately, I didn't really accept this until after the ice cream had ripened and I found that the prominent flavors were bitter nutmeg and rum. I'm melting it down to add more sugar so it's presentable which is all I can hope for at this point.
I think I'll post this now and let you know whether the salvage job worked after the contest. A bit of suspense keeps up the readership.