I must confess that before my Banana Tea Cake was out of the oven I already had plans of how to use the leftovers. Yes, I chose the recipe knowing full well that I planned on morphing it into something even more delicious than its original form. That eventual plan was the bread pudding I hinted at in the original post.
Its muse was a piece of spectacular chocolate banana bread pudding at Marco in Boston. I rarely eat dessert out, but it being restaurant week I indulged myself. In fact, I’d be lying if I said that spying it on the restaurant week menu wasn’t what pushed me over the edge into making the reservation. Clearly it was sublime because the memory of it has hung on all these years later. A couple of years ago I made a healthy version inspired by Conscious Cuisine . It was tasty. It hit the spot, but it was not the original.
This time I decided I wanted to go whole hog because quite frankly, I’m not a girl who eats dessert very often. So when I do I like something that practically knocks me ver with its sinfulness. Subtle, I guess I am not.
This one certainly fits the bill. Cubes of my banana tea cake (or alternatively some banana bread) are drenched in a custard made especially rich by half and half, dark chocolate, and a copious amount of egg yolks. It’s one serious bread pudding. Of course there is also cubed fresh banana to balance things out because addition to being a heavenly match for chocolate, it offsets the decadence ever so slightly.
And the result is nothing short of tantalizing. You get the right custard to bread ratio so that between the bread cubes you find rich, silken pudding, all chocolately and smooth. I especially love that it’s not overly sweet so the chocolate and bananas really shine through. It’s the perfect dessert to make when bikini season seems just far enough away and winter is still hanging on so dearly that you crave something to warm you up on the inside. I served mine with a generous dollop of whipping cream and a few fresh banana slices but ice cream or even creme anglais would make equally lovely companions.
-7 large egg yolks
-2 large whole eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-3 cups half and half
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup sugar
-10 ounces dark chocolate, about 2 cups chopped
-4 cups cubed Banana Tea Cake (1 mini loaf) or banana bread
-2 medium bananas, peeled and diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the egg yolks, eggs, and vanilla extract in a small bow and mix to combine. Set aside.
Place the half and half, milk, and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until scalded, or when bubbles begin to form around the edges and it has not quite come to a boil, about 8 minutes. Add the dark chocolate and mix until fully melted. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow steady stream, whisking all the while.
Place the bread cubes and cubed banana in an 8×8-inch pan and cover with the egg-half and half mixture. Press the cubes down and let rest for 15 minutes.
Cover with aluminum foil and place in a larger pan filled halfway with very hot water. Transfer to the oven and bake until firm and, when touched in the middle, the custard does not show up on your finger, about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check to see if you need to replenish the water after 30 minutes. If so, add enough to keep the water level at the halfway point.