This year is breezing by faster than I care for it to. Looking back over 2012 and the beginning of my second year writing The Orange Bee blog I see that I’ve definitely had a theme for each month. I’ll carry on with a theme in April and as far into the future as possible. One of the elements in blogging is the challenge of what to write about or in the case of a food blog, what recipe to share. I appreciate this part of blogging as I’m generally up for a challenge and always ready to try a new recipe. I’ve designated April as the month of sweets.
Sweets are my downfall, my weakness, my preference, and I always have a taste for them. They really don’t play into the healthy part of my eating habits now do they? I’ve discovered that if I don’t have any homemade sweets available, Blue Bell Ice Cream being the exception, I am fine without a sweet bite after dinner. I admit, I keep a small bowl of dark chocolate for an emergency fix! However, if I have made some yummy little treat I’m sure and destined to eat it. Shame on me. I do counterbalance by working out regularly at the gym as well as teaching fitness classes twice a week. On days when I don’t teach and don’t feel like the gym I make it a habit, this being a good one, to walk for at least 30 minutes on my road. I also have very good habits about eating lots of fresh veggies and fruits, getting plenty of protein and cooking my foods in a healthy way. Can you see I’m trying to justify my little issue of liking sweets more than I should? Let’s just suffice it to say “all things in moderation” is my motto and anyway these Caramelized Banana Puddings I made are in individual servings, meaning I only had one! It was Easter and I didn’t eat any chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, Peeps or marshmallow eggs.
I saw these little delights in a recent issue of Southern Living. A new twist to basic banana pudding, served in individual ramekins. Not only do the caramelized bananas make them extra yummy but they look so cute too. The distinct aroma of brown sugar and butter turning into gooey caramel mixed with the fresh bananas almost caused me to stop at step #1 and eat the bananas swirling around in that caramel glaze. I pressed on and am so glad I did. Layering the caramelized banana with the vanilla pudding makes for a lovely presentation, and I must say something about that meringue. I’m thrilled with it’s height and ability to hold a peak! (Remember to allow your egg whites to become room temp for the tallest meringue)
Traditional banana pudding is delightful but this may become my new “go to” recipe for banana pudding as the touch of cinnamon and caramel heightens the likability of this dessert. They will certainly become a new tradition for my family on Easter Sunday. How long till next Easter…….
1/2 cup firm packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 large, ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
4 large eggs, separated
2 tsp. vanilla extract
48 vanilla wafers
Cook the first 3 ingredients in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until bubbly. Add bananas, cook another 2-3 minutes or until bananas are heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, next 3 ingredients, and 4 egg yolks in a heavy sauce pan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly for 8-10 minutes or until a pudding-like thickness. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Divide half of banana mixture, pudding and wafers among 8 one-cup ramekins or oven proof glass dishes. Repeat layers ending with wafers.
Beat 4 egg whites at high-speed with an electric mixer unit foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Spread meringue over wafers. Place ramekins on a baking sheet.
Bake at 325* for 15 to 20 minutes or until meringue is golden. Let cool on a wire rack about 30 minutes.