When faced with a couple of ripe bananas and leftover cornbread, we decided to turn them into a version of one of New Orleans’ most delectable desserts, Bananas Foster.
The original Bananas Foster, intended to drum up breakfast business at Brennan’s Restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, was developed in the 1950s by Chef Paul Blange and named after one of his best customers. It’s basically sliced bananas cooked with butter, sugar and rum and served over vanilla ice cream. At Brennan’s, the dish is prepared tableside. Before the bananas go onto the ice cream, rum is poured into the sauce and ignited, a step we decided to skip. However, with a minimum of effort, we were able to transform the original ingredients into an astonishingly good bread pudding fortified with cornbread and served with ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
We’ve always had a weakness for anything pudding and have no trouble believing that people have been feasting on bread pudding for centuries. Long before comfort food became the rage, frugal Colonial cooks were setting aside stale bread and milk about to go sour to make puddings. Earlier puddings, which bore absolutely no resemblance to our banana pudding, were made from floury pastes stuffed into cloth bags and cooked for hours in big pots of boiling water.
We promise ourselves that the next time we get to New Orleans, we’ll head to Brennan’s for Bananas Foster. In the meantime, we are more than happy to trade the pyrotechnics for a deliciously old-fashioned Caramel Banana Cornbread Pudding.
Caramel Banana Bread Pudding
Corn muffins or leftover cornbread make this decadent dessert—reminiscent of Bananas Foster—a snap. Be sure to crumble the muffins into large chunks. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or caramel sauce.
1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix
3 bananas, sliced
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided
3 cups 2 percent low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup caramel sauce or topping
1. Prepare corn muffins according to package instructions. Let cool. Crumble 4 muffins into large chunks.
2. Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly butter a 2-quart or 8-inch-square ceramic baking dish or 6 small (8–ounce) ramekins.
3. Arrange banana slices in the dish. Top with 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and chunks of corn muffins. Combine milk, eggs, remaining brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon; whisk well. Pour over muffins. Bake 50 minutes. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve warm. Serves 6.
Per serving: 411 calories, 10g fat, 10g prot., 74g carbs., 3g fiber, 358mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn