I bloody love custard.
No ifs ands or buts.
It’s comes as no surprise then, that eggs are the one ingredient that I can NEVER live without. Because a world without custards and mousses – which means no brulées, ice creams, pot de crèmes, tarts and curds – would be apocalyptically depressing. My lips have copped it badly over my lifetime because I could never wait for it to cool down before having a ‘taste’. And many plans for profiteroles have utterly failed because I preferred to skip the choux pastry and just chow down on the custard with my spoon!
Now this banana version is brilliant. Funny though, I didn’t use to like banana custards or even ice creams but as I found out in my wise years, it wasn’t the bananas that I hated, but the putrid fake flavouring they used. Thankfully, this custard is 100% pure fresh banana goodness. The riper the fruit is, the better the custard will be especially after it intensifies overnight.
It might seem like a minor addition but please don’t skip the toasted almond praline. The custard is great on its own but the praline just lifts it to a whole new level and lends a slight bittersweet note from the toffee and the toasted almonds. The trick is to cook the caramel right to the edge without burning it to achieve a slightly dark and smokey flavour. It’s a good thing to practice when cooking toffees because the flavour at that stage is phenomenal, rather than the sickly saccharine flavour of sugar that you get with lighter caramels.
With the weather warming up, this is one chilled dessert that I’m going to keep in the fridge for emergency sugar hits. As long as I don’t burn my lips eating it all off the stove.
Banana Cream with Crushed Almond Praline
(Serves 4 if served in glasses)
1 large ripened banana – sliced into 1cm discs
85g caster sugar – divided up into two portions
1 small vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1/8 tsp of salt
1.5 Tbl plain flour (approx 16g) – see note
1.5 Tbl cornflour (approx 11g)
40g of good quality butter (the quality and taste will make all the difference)
Note – I always use 15ml sized tablespoons and never the Aussie 20ml spoons.
Halve and scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into a saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, bananas, half of the sugar and milk to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and leave for 10 minutes to infuse.
In a mixing bowl, add the yolks, whole egg, remaining sugar and salt and briskly whisk for a couple of minutes.
Add the flour, cornflour and whisk until mixture is smooth and no flour remains. Add some of the hot milk liquid to the eggs while whisking to temper. Gradually pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan of milk, whisking constantly as you do.
Cook the custard over medium-low heat, while whisking making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Once bubbles rise to the top, cook for for a further 30 seconds and remove from the heat. The custard would have thickened significantly.
Pass the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Rinse and dry the vanilla pods and store for a later use.
Allow custard to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the butter until fully incorporated, transfer to the fridge and chill for 30 minutes.
In a chilled bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks and fold into the cooled custard until incorporated.
Ladle into serving glasses or bowls and chill. Just before serving, sprinkle over crushed praline. Custards will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator.
Crushed Toasted Almond Praline
35g of sliced almonds (toasted in a preheated 175°C oven for around 10 minutes until lightly browned)
110g caster sugar
Scatter almonds onto a baking paper-lined oven tray. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook caramel without stirring, swirling the pan, until deep dark golden. Don’t take your eyes off it because it can burn really quickly. Quickly pour the caramel over the almonds and cool until set. Break praline into pieces and pulse briefly in a food processor until crushed (but not powder).
Recipe adapted from Kate Zuckerman’s ‘The Sweet Life’