We all have those recipes that instantly make us feel at home again: whether it’s mac ‘n cheese, meatloaf, chocolate chip cookies, or soup, they just say “comfort”. On Thursday night, after an emotionally-charged first day at a new school, I turned to my mother’s banana bread for a much-needed dose of comfort food. But a day of herding (proverbial) cats left me wanting something a little more adult, a little more elevated: I needed a Dessert.
[Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing the matter with plain yummy banana bread. Simple is always good. But since the entire premise of F & K is to do-it-yourself with flourish, I thought that it would be fun to put a more gourmet spin on this simple (and delicious) recipe.]
I give you perfection on a plate: banana bread with salted-caramel sauce and toasted hazelnuts!
My mom’s banana bread is one of those recipes to which only very special people are privy. I remember accepting it with awed reverence as she prepared me to go off to university. It is better than gold: use it well, fellow foodies.
Linda’s Banana Bread
1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 lb soft bananas (about three large bananas)
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
cinnamon to taste (I use about 1 1/2 tsp)
nutmeg (I grate my own, so I use a healthy grating)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar.
3. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.
4. Mash the bananas well and add them to the egg mixture.
5. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, a bit at a time.
7. Lightly butter a loaf pan. I line mine with parchment paper, but you can also flour it.
8. Pour in the batter.
9. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 60 minutes.
Now, to really make this a Dessert (with a capital ‘D’), you can add a salted caramel sauce, chopped toasted hazelnuts and vanilla ice cream.
Salted Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Style at Home – November 2013
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup of 35% whipping cream
1 tsp fleur de sel
1. Heat the granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until all the sugar is dissolved. (It will clump and harden before it dissolves – don’t panic!)
2. Once it dissolves, the sugar will begin to caramelize (darken). Don’t stir it once this starts! This should take about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Quickly stir in the butter, cream, and fleur de sel. You may need to take the pan off the heat for this step.
4. Let the sauce simmer for about 1 minute.
5. Transfer the sauce to a heat-proof bowl and let it cool completely.
*This sauce can be made well in advance and refrigerated. When re-heating it, be sure to microwave on low for only about 5 seconds at a time. Stir frequently to prevent it burning.*
To finish off your dessert:
1. Toast your hazelnuts until golden
2. Rub them with a clean tea towel on a wooden cutting board to remove as much of the skins as possible.
3. Chop the hazelnuts.
4. Assemble the dessert: a piece of banana bread, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of hazelnuts!
Tell me: what non-traditional spins have YOU put on your favourite childhood foods?