banana-butterscotch cream tarts

These. are. RIDICULOUS.  Not just a little.  They are majorly ridiculous.

You want to make these.  Today.  Right now.  Seriously.

Remember how enthusiastic I was about those ginger-molasses lemon cookies?  That’s kinda how I feel about this.  Only … they are totally not the same.

Where the cookie is chewy and sweetly tart, these tarts are creamy and sweet.  Really sweet.

Bananas.  Butterscotch.  Whipped cream.  Winner … Oh yes.  Holy heck yes!

I would tweek one thing about this recipe … the size.  Holy heck – 4-inch tarts are too big.  It took 5 of us to eat one.  Mind you we’d all just eaten some monkey bread … but still.  2-inch tarts would do.  They would hit the spot.  They would be perfect to offer on your holiday buffet.  How about you make these for tomorrow night.  You know you want to impress people, but you don’t want to spend another entire day in the kitchen slaving away.  So don’t.  Make these and get outside.  Enjoy the snow.  Or curl up with that book you got for Christmas.  Basically – this is the perfect dessert to make, assemble and then … chillax.

Let’s do it!

Be forewarned – this tart is made in three steps.  Steps one and two can be completed very quickly and can be refrigerated up to 2 days before finishing it.  The third step needs to be done the same day as you are serving this dessert.  So plan accordingly.

fyi – this is another David Lebovitz recipe.  His genius astounds me.  Oh how I heart his book, website, recipes.  I hope you have started to heart him too.

banana – butterscotch cream tarts

ingredients:

crust

1 1/2 c. crushed chocolate cookie crumbs and graham cracker crumbs (combo)

3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Generously spray your mini tart pans (or a 10-inch pie plate) with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter together.  You’re looking to get a moistened, almost muddy texture (take it from a sandy texture to a muddy one).  If making small individual tarts (12 x 2-inch mini, 5 x 4-inch medium), evenly divide the cookie base between them – patting the mixture into the bottoms and sides of each tart pan.  If making the larger tart, simply pat the mixture evenly across the base of the pie pan and up the sides.

Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes.

Bake the crust until it feels slightly firm, about 6 minutes (mini), 8 minutes (medium), and 10 minutes (large).

Let cool completely.

Make the filling.

filling:

1 c. packed brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp cornstartch

1 1/2 c. whole milk

1/2 tsp salt

3 egg yolks, whisked together

2 tsp rum (sailor jerry’s of course)

1 tsp vanilla

3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces

Combine the brown sugar and butter together in a small saucepan.  Stir while the butter melts.  Once melted, pour into a large bowl.  Set a strainer across the top of the bowl.  Set aside.

Grab a small bowl.  Whisk together the cornstarch with just enough of the milk to make a smooth slurry (David’s words … not mine.  Basically you want the cornstarch to dissolve and create a thin paste – similar to thick honey, not tomato paste).

Now … grab your medium saucepan (I promised easy – not easy on the dishes!) and heat the remaining milk and the salt.  When the milk gets hot, stir in the cornstarch – whisking everything together.  Cover over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and boil.  It doesn’t smell great … not at this point anyway.

Whisk a small amount of the milk/cornstarch mixture into the beaten egg yolks.  Whisk quickly and drizzle the warm mixture slowly … it’ll prevent curdling of the egg yolks.  Once tempered, return the egg-yolk mixture into the medium saucepan – returning it to the heat.

Cook, again, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and resembles mayonnaise (thickness).  Pour it through the strainer into the brown-sugar butter mixture (the strainer will catch any of those lumps and curdled pieces).

Add the vanilla and rum.  Whisk to combine.

Scatter the slices of banana in the base of the tart pans.

Pour the butterscotch filling into the crust, covering the bananas.  Cover the tarts and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I left mine overnight).  This is when you should (1) go play outside or (2) curl up with a book.  Relax.  You’re almost done.

When you are ready to serve the tart – work on the topping.  You need to pull out your rum for this portion as well :0)

topping:

1 c. heavy cream

1 tbsp powdered sugar

2 tbsp rum (again… sailor jerry’s)

1 tsp vanilla

chocolate sprinkles to garnish

You haven’t had to use a stand-mixer or hand-mixer yet.  Now you do … unless you’d like to whisk.  If you do – then by all means … giver!

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, whisk the heavy cream on high speed until it begins to forth.  Add the sugar, rum, and vanilla, continuing to whisk until the cream holds peaks.  You want a pretty stiff cream.

Spoon the whipped cream into a large piping bag.  Now pipe each tart … creating a beautiful, creamy topping.  Sprinkle with the chocolate sprinkles.

Done.

Festive and beautiful.  And not too difficult!  In the course of an afternoon you’ve created an amazing dessert AND enjoyed some quality relaxing time.

Brilliant.  Perfect to celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of a new year.

chocolate – sailor jerry’s – coconut cream bars

The count-down is just about done.  Today is the beginning of the fun part of the holiday season – you know … the part that actually involves seeing the people we love, spending time with them (and not shopping for them), getting to catch-up, laugh, reminisce about the past year … and then … eat.

I figured this would be a good recipe to share … it’s pretty simple, it doesn’t take very long to make … and is an easy addition for anyone hosting a réveillon tonight.

Plus … they’re pretty.  Real pretty.

The original recipe was actually chocolate – sherry cream bars.  I don’t have sherry in my pantry … but I have some rum (no big surprise there eh?) – and I figured that the chocolate rum combo would work.  It does.

Then I thought – why not add some coconut to the chocolate base? Brilliant idea!  This is a dressed up, and grown-up version of  nanaimo bars – a tender base with a fluffy, boozy topping and then a drizzle of chocolate glaze.

Yum?  Yeah.  Intense yum.

Like I said – these aren’t complicated – and likely, after all the holiday baking you’ve already done – you have all the ingredients on hand.  If you’re missing the coconut flakes – no worries, they weren’t in the original recipe.  Just omit that addition and you are good to go.  And if you don’t have rum on hand – how about adding some eggnog?  I bet that would be AWESOME.  Heck … I wish I had thought of that before now.  Sigh.  That’ll be for next year I guess.

chocolate – rum – coconut cream bars

ingredients:

base:

1 c. butter

1/2 c. chocolate chips

4 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature

2 c. sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. flour, sifted

3/4 c. sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line your rectangular pan with parchment paper or foil.  Grease the liner with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat and stir the butter and chocolate over low heat until smooth.  Remove from the heat.  With a whisk, beat in the eggs, sugar and vanilla until just combined.  Swap out the whisk for a wooden spoon and stir in the flour, then the coconut (obviously from the picture you’ll see I used the whisk … the wooden spoon just folds it in better).

Spread the mixture evenly into the pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  These brownies are pretty moist – so check with a wooden skewer … it likely won’t come out perfectly clean, but you don’t want a runny batter to appear on the tip.   There will be a slight crust on this brownie – but the centre should be solid.

Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Time to make the filling.

sweet rum filling:

4 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. rum

1 c. chopped, toasted walnuts

This time you need to pull out either your stand-mixer or your hand-held mixer.  In a large bowl, beat together the powdered sugar and butter.  Gradually increase the speed, and add the heavy cream and the rum.  Once it has come together (is nice and fluffy), fold in the toasted walnuts (use a spoon or spatula for that).

Spread the topping evenly over the baked brownie.  Chill for at least 1 hour, or until firm (you can put this in the freezer – or stick it outside if you’re lacking freezer space).

Just before you’re ready to cut them into squares, prepare the chocolate – rum glaze.  Yes … there is a wee bit more rum required.

chocolate – rum glaze:

1/2 c. chocolate chips

1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp rum

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the vegetable oil.  Once smooth, remove from heat and add the rum.  Allow the glaze to thicken a little (about 10 minutes in the fridge should do).  Place in a piping bag and drizzle over the firm filling.  If you don’t want to bother with the piping bag – just take a whisk, dip it in the glaze and then drizzle the glaze that way … it’ll still look really pretty.

Chill until the bars are firm.

Remove from the pan (lifting it out using the excess parchment paper), and then cut into the desired size.  I was able to get about 70 mini squares … and really – these are pretty rich.  A small piece goes a long way … just about the perfect thing to nibble on at around midnight :0)

I’m going to say it … Happy Holidays – and a super Merry Christmas to you if you celebrate this particular holiday.

bahamian rum cake

Ok.  Actually it’s not a Bahamian rum cake.  It’s a Trinidadian rum cake (are you surprised that I didn’t use Sailor Jerry’s rum?).   It’s ridiculous.  As in amazing.  As in … perfect for the holiday season.  Perfect for tomorrow and the day after that.  This is the kind of cake that gets better with age … so make it today and allow it to sit and soak up the rum syrup and glaze.  You won’t be sorry that you waited.

I found this recipe in David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert.  I actually got giddy when I saw it.  I was that excited.

This cake is my gift to my sister.  Anne loves visiting the Islands.  She loves the spiciness of rum.  She loves coconut.  This is a match made in heaven.  And the perfect Christmas treat to offer her.

This cake is made in three-stages.  All super easy – but please remember to allow for the time.  If you are making it the same-day as you want to eat it – it’ll still be good.  So don’t worry – but if there are any leftovers – enjoy them for breakfast.  You won’t regret that either.

Trinidadian rum cake

ingredients:

3 c. flour, sifted

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 c. butter, room temperature

1 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

2 egg yolks, room temperature

1 tbsp vanilla

3/4 c. canned coconut milk

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter and sugars, slowly increasing the speed to medium – allowing the batter to become light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes).

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.  Slowly drizzle the mixture into the creamed butter, scraping the sides as needed.  Once the eggs are completely incorporated, gently stir-in one-third of the flour mixture, then about half of the coconut milk. 

Mix in another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the coconut milk, and the remaining third of the flour; until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. 

Bake for 55 minutes – the cake will be set in the centre.

While the cake is baking – open that bottle of rum and start working on the syrup …

coconut-rum syrup

ingredients:

3/4 c. canned coconut milk (actually … just use the rest of the canned coconut milk)

6 tbsp sugar

1/2 c. dark rum

In a medium sauce-pan over medium heat, warm the remainder of the coconut milk, and the sugar , stirring until the sugar dissolves.  It shouldn’t come to a boil.  Remove the syrup from heat and add the dark rum.  Whisk everything together.  Set aside until the cake comes out of the oven.

Now – grab a wooden skewer, and poke holes in the warm (just out of the oven) cake – you really want the cake to get drenched in the syrup – so pierce the cake about 60 times. 

Spoon about two-thirds of the syrup over the cake – allowing the coconut-rum to macerate the cake.  It’ll smell pretty amazing already at this point.  It only gets better.

Leave the cake in the bundt pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack – the syrup will slowly disappear as it’s absorbed.

Once cooled, invert the cake onto a plate.

Brush with the remaining syrup (I spooned the syrup – and most of it didn’t end up on the cake – it ended up on the plate, so I strongly recommend brushing the syrup on the second time around).

Set the cake aside and make the third and final part. 

glaze

ingredients:

4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

6 tbsp heavy cream

6 tbsp brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 tbsp dark rum

1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes, toasted

Toast the coconut flakes on an ungreased pan over medium-low heat.  Coconut flakes don’t take long to toast – so keep an eye on them.  Toss them around with a wooden spoon as they are toasting as well.  Remove from heat.

To make the glaze, combine the butter, cream, salt and sugar together in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar – this should take about 90 seconds.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the rum, and let cool completely.  Once the syrup has cooled, whisk in the toasted coconut.

Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.  As David Lebovitz says, “encourage it to run down the sides” – the effect is really pretty.

There you have it.  Ready to be served.  Although – my recommendation (and it’s a pretty strong one), is to allow it to sit overnight (NOT IN THE FRIDGE), at room temperature, under a cake dome (or covered by a really large Tupperware container).  The rum will continue to be soaked up – making it the perfect treat … either for breakfast or as a treat throughout the day.

This is a seriously good cake. 

bakers note:  This cake travels really well – you can wrap it in plastic wrap and then in tinfoil.  Then you can take it anywhere.  This is the kind of love you should share with the people around you.