Two Recipes, Seven Bananas
This is probably a familiar situation: you’re in Usdan at lunch. There are bananas by the dessert trays, and they actually look good. Maybe you’re running out of points, or maybe you just enjoy the quiet thrill of stealing food that you’ve actually already paid for—either way, you decide to take as many as you can hold.
And that’s how I ended up walking out of Usdan with seven bananas. But I kept forgetting to eat them. So after a few days, I had a whole bunch of mushy bananas in my room and I needed to do something about it. I thought about making banana bread, but that’s what everyone does with their old bananas, and my bananas were special, obviously.
Instead, I found this foodie website, Endlesssimmer.com, that has a collection of recipes under the headline “100 things to do with a banana.” After I stopped giggling at the title, I quickly bookmarked a few and began my banana cooking adventure.
The first recipe I used was ridiculously simple and delicious:
Malay banana fritters, or Godok Pisang:
8-9 medium ripe bananas (those with blackened skin are perfect)
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
Oil for frying
Mash bananas into pulp (I used a potato masher). Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Your batter should be thick.
Heat oil (about 2 inches deep) in wok or deep pan using medium heat.
Use a large spoon to scoop and drop the batter into the hot oil. Hold the spoon low and close to the oil, so you don’t get a nasty splatter.
Fry a few at a time until golden brown. Don’t put too many in the oil at once, because the oil temperature will drop too much and the dough will absorb oil and turn soggy. Repeat until batter is finished.
I did not follow this recipe exactly—I divided the ingredients list by three, added a little cinnamon to the batter, and put confectioners’ sugar on top of the cooked fritters.
The next banana dish I made was banana upside-down brownies—basically, brownies with carmelized bananas on top. I changed the recipe a lot; although I followed the instructions for the upside-down banana part, I used a different brownie recipe that I got from Epicurious.com because the original recipe used cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate, and seemed to make cakey rather than fudgy brownies.
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (100 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter; cubed, at room temperature
3-4 ripe medium bananas
A few drops of lemon juice
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
8 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Place the brown sugar and water or butter in an 8×8-inch metal cake pan. Place the pan directly on the stove and warm over low heat, stirring until the sugar is the texture of wet sand.
If using water, simmer for about 45 seconds. If using butter, stir just until the sugar is moist and bubbling, then remove from heat. (It won’t be completely smooth, and there may be a few bare spots.) Let cool to room temperature.
Peel and slice the bananas in 1/4-inch slices. Arrange them, slightly overlapping, over the melted brown sugar. Sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl, then pour in chocolate mixture, whisking until combined well. Whisk in flour mixture, then pour batter over the bananas already in the baking pan.
Bake until top is shiny and set and sides have begun to pull away slightly (a wooden pick or skewer will not come out clean), about 35 minutes, for fudgy brownies; or until wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour total, for cakey brownies.
Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack. Invert onto a cutting board and cut into squares.
Not to toot my own horn, but these brownies were so good that I don’t know if I will ever want brownies without bananas again. So, actually, kind of to toot my own horn. But also in praise of bananas, for making the best desserts.
After all these banana escapades, I still had one left. I ate it.