Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Happy Accident: Chocolate Chip Cookie and Banana "Bread Puddings"

I love to cook, and I'd like to think that I'm pretty good at it. But, I call myself the GourMESS for a reason: I mess things up a lot.

I spill and splatter. I always seem to drop things in that little crack between the stove and the counter, and I hardly ever follow a recipe to a T. And when I'm baking -- anything goes. I am just not made for baking. I don't have the patience and I get really grumpy when there are too many steps or I have to measure things out precisely, or wait for layers to cool before moving forward. Ugh! (How do you bakers do it?)

Still, for some reason, whatever I'm making usually turns out delicious -- in spite of me. Take for instance, these tasty, mock "bread puddings" I cobbled together out of a disappointing batch of chocolate chip cookies. Yes, you heard me. I made bread pudding with cookies.
Here's the story: I received a gratis tub of frozen cookie dough with my last grocery delivery, and I thought I'd make a quick dessert with them, using them for some fancy yet simple cookie sandwiches -- layering caramelized  banana slices and a bit of whipped cream between them. But, there is a reason why I normally make chocolate chip cookies from scratch...just looking at the frozen balls of dough, I could tell these were not going to come close to my Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies  -- the one dessert I can do well!

While they smelled good, the first batch of cookies was getting too brown too quickly, and they didn't keep their circular shape. They kind of blobbed together into one thin, misshaped rectangle. This would not do, so I scooped the still warm cookies, melted chocolate and all, in to a bowl and mashed them up. Then, I stirred in some half and half and let the cookies soak it all up. Then things got interesting.

Originally, when I put the cookies in the oven, I heated some butter in a pan until hot, then added a couple large ripe bananas (sliced), a heaping spoonful of brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. Then, I cooked them until syrupy and caramelized. But, when I realized the dessert plan was changing, I used a slotted spoon and transferred the bananas to a bowl, then mashed them up, reserving the sugary liquid for later. Then, I added the mashed banana to the cookie batter.

The "batter" went into some small ramekins, and the ramekins went into a 350 degree oven to bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they puffed up and were firm to the touch on top. Served with a bit of whipped cream and a drizzle of the reserved banana syrup, I guess you could say they were pretty terrific. You could even say dessert was saved.
At least until it was devoured...
xoxo

Note: If you want to make a delicious, cookie-free Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding, here's a recipe I've made with much success.

Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding
Ingredients:
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 TBS white sugar 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8-10 thick slices of day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (if you don't have day-old bread, just toast the bread you do have before cutting into cubes)
1 TBS butter
2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
2 TBS brown sugar 
Dark rum (optional)
1 cup dark or milk chocolate, chopped
 
Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2
 
To Do: 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, heavy cream, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon together until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Gently add the bread cubes and let them soak up all the sweet, milky liquid for at least an hour. (Stir it every 20 mins. or so.)
  • While the bread is soaking, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan and when hot, add the banana slices, a splash of dark rum (if using) and the brown sugar. Let cook 1-2 minutes more, until browned and syrupy, then remove from the heat.
  • If you want your bread pudding to be a chocolate-cake-like color, stir the chocolate into the warm caramelized bananas and let it melt. If you want a more golden brown pudding dotted with chocolate, wait for the bananas to be cooled completely before adding the chocolate. (Tastes the same, so up to you.)
  • Add the chocolate and bananas to the bread mixture and gently stir to combine. 
  • Pour the mixture into buttered ramekins, distributing evenly, or you can put it all in a buttered, large baking dish (10-cup capacity).
  • Bake the pudding(s) for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until they are firmed up (no jiggling when you touch the pan).
  • When firm, remove from the oven and serve immediately with ice cream or whipped cream, or let cool a bit and serve at room temp. 
  • Enjoy!




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