Saturday, June 5, 2010

Banana Freeze Out

I can’t resist the quick sale section in the produce aisle.  Most eschew even looking.  Last week there were over-ripe bananas in quantity.  Too far gone for the regular bin, these were ready to bake into banana bread, banana pancakes, banana muffins and cookies.  Some were perfect to eat that day in cereal and fruit salad. 

Ten or twelve were packaged together for under a dollar.  That was the trouble.  One loaf of banana bread only requires two mashed bananas. Even the most ardent baker can’t drop everything to bake five banana breads.   Banana bread freezes pretty well but that’s a lot of time and energy for an impulse item.  And so most people have to pass up the produce sale section.

As it turns out, the freezer is part of the solution.  I bought a batch of very ripe bananas, set aside two  at their peak for the fruit bowl and picked two almost black-skinned ones for one banana bread I baked that day.   I put the remaining six bananas in the freezer as is.  Unpeeled, unwrapped. 

A week later, I removed four bananas and made cookies with two and Banana Freeze with the remaining two.  Banana Freeze is like the purest banana ice cream you can imagine.  The texture and flavor are true with no cream and no added sugar.

Brown Sugar Banana Cranberry Cookies
These are cake-like cookies and fit somewhere between a free form muffin and a scone.  Perfect any time of day. 

(Yield 30 2-inch cookies)
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup  brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup  mashed bananas (about 2 bananas)
  • 2 cups whole wheat  flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup each chopped walnuts and dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits (try Heath Bits o Brickle)

Method
  1. Preheat  oven to 350°F. 
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.  Continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. 
  3. Add the mashed banana to the butter mixture. 
  4. In a medium bowl,  combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and spices.   Stir well with a whisk to evenly incorporate ingredients and lighten mixture.  Stir into butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined. 
  5. Fold  walnuts, cranberries and toffee bits into batter.  
  6. Use two tablespoons to  drop in small mounds of batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. 
  7. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
Banana Freeze
For each serving, use 1 frozen banana
Optional: chocolate syrup, chopped nuts, strawberries or cherries, whipped cream
  1. Allow unpeeled banana to sit at room temperature 10-15 minutes until partially thawed.  
  2. Peel banana and place in a wide bowl or pie plate.  With a sturdy fork or potato masher, mash banana until fairly smooth.  (Do not be tempted to use a food processor.  The heat produced by the high friction liquefies the banana.)  
  3. Scoop into serving bowls and enjoy immediately plain or with toppings.  Banana freeze can be re-frozen.  Thaw a few minutes before enjoying. 

Next week,  perhaps banana cheesecake with a chocolate crumb crust. 
All this for less than a buck.

This week apples hit the sale section. 
Hmmm, apple pie, apple butter topping for oatmeal, apple danish, apple turnovers, apple cake (try Arthur Schwartz’s  made with matzo cake meal).