Bon Appétit (March 2013)
Today marks the official first day of spring, but you wouldn't know it here in D.C. We're still bundling up every morning for our commute, bracing for the cold weather. And even if a few daffodils have started opening up, the trees are still bare.
We've been forcing the season, trying to will warmer days into being. We're thinking spring produce, grilling and ice cream.
When Regi and Kate came over for dinner, we wanted to make a dessert that was special. (It's not every day that they can get a sitter for their three boys and spend a night catching up with friends.)
But we also wanted something that we could easily make ahead, so we could actually hang out with Regi and Kate instead of scurrying around trying to finish dessert.
We also wanted something springy and on the healthier end of the spectrum.
These Brown Sugar Banana Parfaits with Maple-Glazed Pecans seemed like they would fit the bill perfectly.
In actuality, they did -- with one major exception.
Okay, first, let's talk about that ridiculous thing we just said about these parfaits being healthy. Obviously they are not. But as desserts go, you could do way worse. Sure, there's butter and sugar and maple syrup in here. But it's not like you're scarfing down a big piece of cake with frosting. Here, dessert is contained to a single, small but satisfying serving.
Point being, these parfaits are healthy enough to make you feel like you're making a good choice, and isn't that really what's important here?
Anyway, the prep. It's all rather easy. Glaze the pecans, make a sauce, sauté the bananas in the sauce, layer with ice cream. Dunzo.
The problem -- and our one big quibble with this recipe -- is the "Do Ahead" note. According to the recipe, you can make these parfaits eight hours in advance, freeze the individual servings, and then serve whenever you want.
We call foul.
Our post-frozen parfaits were icy and hard, even after setting them out for 10 minutes, as the recipe suggests. And while we love a frozen banana as much as the next guys, their texture just wasn't that appetizing in the parfait.
Next time, we'd build these and serve them immediately. You could still glaze the pecans and make the sauce (and even sauté the bananas) slightly ahead of time. All you'd have to do before serving them is to build the different layers in the jars.
If you do need to make these parfaits far in advance, just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to defrost them before serving. Maybe 20 minutes would have done the trick for us?
Either way, this is a recipe worth making. The flavors are great, and we love the rye-based glaze. As Bon App says, it's like a new twist on Bananas Foster. But in cute little jars.
Who wouldn't want that?
Brown Sugar Banana Parfaits with Maple-Glazed Pecans
Bon Appétit (March 2013)
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Nutritional Information available at BonAppetit.com
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Pinch of kosher salt
3/4 cup rye whiskey
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 bananas, peeled, cut on a diagonal into 1/4-inch slices
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350°. Toss pecans, maple syrup, and salt on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet; spread out in a single layer. Bake until maple syrup is caramelized and pecans are toasted, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet. Coarsely chop nuts; set aside.
Meanwhile, bring whiskey, both sugars, and butter to a boil in a large skillet (do not move pan or mixture may ignite). Turn off heat; stir mixture to dissolve sugar completely.
Return to medium heat and simmer until sauce is thickened and glossy, about 2 minutes. Add bananas and cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until bananas are just softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture cool completely in skillet.
Layer bananas and sauce, pecans, and ice cream in small mason jars or glasses.
DO AHEAD: Parfaits can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and freeze. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften slightly before serving.