Bananas Foster is a New Orleans original.
The dish was originally created in 1951, by Chef Paul Blangé of Brennan’s Restaurant. Owen Edward Brennan, the owner, had challenged his chef to create a dish that would highlight bananas. At the time, New Orleans was the principal port of entry for Latin America’s banana crop. The recipe also served as the feature article for Holiday Magazine, which had asked Brennan for a recipe to accompany an article about the restaurant.
Bananas Foster is named for Richard Foster, who was a frequent diner at his friend’s restaurant. Foster owned an awning company, and also served with Brennan on the New Orleans Crime Commission, a civic organization aimed at improving the French Quarter.
Today, Bananas Foster is the most-requested item on Brennan’s menu. The restaurant itself remains a New Orleans institution. (My first legal job was across the street from Brennan’s – at the Louisiana Supreme Court).
WHAT TO GRAB:
4 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 very ripe bananas, chopped into small pieces
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rum
1 tablespoon banana liqueur (optional – in part, because I couldn’t find banana liqueur)
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter four 6-ounce ramekins, and dust the bottom and sides of the dish with sugar. Refrigerate the ramekins until ready.
2. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan, over low-medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes a dark brown – roughly five minutes. Add the chopped bananas and stir until well coated – another two minutes.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the cinnamon, followed by the lemon juice, rum, and banana liqueur (if you have it). Transfer to a mixing bowl, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
4. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar, and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add 4 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating just until stiff, glossy peaks form. Roughly three to five minutes of beating.
5. With a rubber spatula, fold half of the egg whites into the banana mixture. Add the finely chopped chocolate chips, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Mix well.
6. Fill each ramekin to just over the top, with a peak in the middle. Do not smooth the mixture.
7. Bake the souffles for 15 to 20 minutes, until brown on top and firm. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream mixed in!
Soufflés need not be last-minute, stress-inducing creations. Almost any soufflé can be made ahead. Simply complete the recipe, fill the molds, cover them, and refridgerate up until a few minutes before needed!
For other helpful soufflé hints, click here!