I adore early fall weather, crisp mornings and cool evenings . . . until posts about pumpkin desserts start intruding.
It’s not the pumpkin itself, it’s the premature baking. Being a good student of my adopted folk culture, I’ve always associated pumpkin with late October and then November up to Thanksgiving. September is simply too early and too warm for pumpkin talk. I’m just not ready for the late Fall scent of squash melding with warm spices. I’m still eager to dive into the last crops of peaches, nectarines, and plums before they disappear from the Farmer’s Market.
In the midst of this weather transition, I crave ingredients that are not season specific. Pudding from scratch is the thing–and it’s infinitely more delectable than what comes out of a box, it doesn’t even take that much more time to make. A taste of homemade pudding with real banana could persuade the most feeble cook to start banging around the kitchen.
Additional flavors and textures raise a basic pudding to another level. I alternate the layers of pudding with a peanut butter crunch consisting of peanut brittle, peanut butter, and feuilletine for contrast. Using both vanilla wafers and chocolate wafers add more flavor dimensions.
Dig your spoon into the center and stir–you want to get every component with each bite. If you’re in a hurry, just add peanut butter and perhaps a handful of warm roasted peanuts for crunch. The fun of this dessert is to combine it any way to suit your palate, so feel free to play with the ingredients.
Crunchy Peanut Butter Banana Pudding
recipe adapted from Cook’s Country
yield: Eight 1/2 cup-ramekin/individual serving bowl
4 large ripe bananas
3/4 cups sugar, separated
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Peanut Butter Crunch, recipe to follow
1. Place bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium-size bowl and allow to drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer liquid to a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
2. Whisk 1⁄2 cup sugar, egg yolks, and cornstarch in medium bowl until smooth. Bring half-and-half, remaining sugar, and salt to simmer over medium heat in large saucepan. Whisk 1⁄2 cup simmering half- and-half mixture into egg yolk mixture. Slowly whisk tempered yolk mixture into saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and large bubbles appear at surface, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
3. Transfer pudding to food processor. Add bananas, reduced banana liquid and 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and process until smooth. Scrape into large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding. Refrigerate until slightly cool, about 45 minutes.
1. Spoon a layer of pudding into individual serving bowls and top with layer of crushed wafers of your choice, sprinkle with peanut butter crunch. spoon another layer of pudding over crunch and sprinkle more crushed wafers and peanut butter crunch. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until wafers have softened, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.
2. Remove from refrigerator and garnish with a wafer (if desire), serve.
Peanut Brittle Dust
1 cup of granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/2 cup peanuts
1. Line 1/2-sheet pan with silpat and set aside.
2. Heat sugar in small heavy saucepan over medium heat. As soon as it starts to melt, stir sugar gently with heatproof spatula for even melting. Cook and stir until it reaches a light amber color, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove from pan from heat and add peanuts. Stir until all nuts are coated with caramel. Pour mixture onto silpat and spread as thinly as possible. (Brittle will harden within a minute, so work quickly)
4. Cool completely, break up brittle into pieces and place in a ziplock bag. Press air out of bag and close tightly; cover with towel. Using a rolling pin, alternate between banging and rolling on the brittle until all pieces are no more than the size of a grain of rice. Store in airtight container, up to a month, until ready to use.
Peanut Butter Crunch
adapted from Milk Bar
*you will not use up the entire recipe
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 recipe of peanut brittle dust
1-1/2 cups feuilletine
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar (3 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1. Combine peanut butter, brittle, feuilletine, confectioners’ sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
2. Store crunch in airtight container in fridge for up to 2 weeks.