Episode 25 – “Citizen Cane”

Posted: December 18, 2014 in Season 2, Uncategorized
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I was very excited for this episode of Good Eats because my dad made this recipe for Ted and me several years ago. I remember telling my dad about Good Eats, thinking he would really love the scientific approach to food. My dad’s first reaction to Alton Brown,  however, was to ponder who the “nerdy” guy in the Hawaiian shirt was. After watching a few episodes of the show, he became hooked and was a true Good Eats devotee. We went to my parents’ house for dinner one night several years ago and Dad told us he would be making a special dessert of Alton’s. Sure enough, it was Alton’s banana split. Dad was critical of his recipe outcome, but we all thought it was great. Needless to say, I was excited to try making this dessert myself.

Banana Splitsville

The star ingredient of the 25th (Have I really done that many already?) episode of Good Eats is sugar. One recipe is featured in this episode, but it features sugar in a few applications. To start this recipe, you make the candy garnishes, or “doodads” as Alton calls them, for your banana split. You put sugar in a saucepan, adding water until you have the consistency of wet sand. The online recipe calls for a full cup of water, but this will give you a consistency that is far thinner than what you desire. I used a half cup of water, at most. Oh, and you want to add ~ 1 T of corn syrup to this mixture, as it will prevent the sugar from recrystallizing.

Sugar, corn syrup, and water.

Sugar, corn syrup, and water.

Heat this sugar syrup over high heat until the sugar dissolves. If you have a candy thermometer, you will want to use it at this point. I made a mistake in using too wide of a pan, so my thermometer was not submerged.

Heating the sugar syrup, but my thermometer was not submerged enough.

Heating the sugar syrup, but my thermometer was not submerged enough.

This left me to go by my eye, but I do not recommend that method if you have not made candy or caramel before. While your syrup heats, prepare two sheet pans by turning them over and covering them with parchment paper. When your syrup hits ~300 degrees, you can begin to swirl the pan. Until this point, you want to leave the syrup alone. You will know that your syrup is approaching 300 degrees, as it will start to turn amber in color.

Around 300 degrees.

Around 300 degrees.

When your syrup reaches 340 degrees, remove it from the heat. It will be a deep amber by this point. Stir the mixture slowly, as you do not want to incorporate too much air; this can result in cloudy candy. Continue to stir the mixture until it falls from a spoon in a steady stream.

Around 340 degrees. Cooling the syrup by stirring gently.

Around 340 degrees. Cooling the syrup by stirring gently.

When your syrup has reached this point, you want to make your “doodads” by swirling the syrup over the parchment paper, creating abstract sugar art to accessorize your banana splits. I found that I should have waited an additional minute or so before starting my doodads because they were easier to make as the syrup cooled more. Do not over-obsess about your doodads, as they will likely not be perfect, nor will they all look alike. Once your doodads are made, allow them to cool on the parchment.

Doodads.

Doodads.

Doodads.

Doodads.

While your doodads cool, put the remaining syrup back on the heat until you see faint wisps of smoke; when this happens, remove the pan from the heat and add an equal amount of heavy cream. The caramel will bubble and hiss.

Syrup back on the heat.

Syrup back on the heat.

Cream added once smoke was seen.

Cream added once smoke was seen.

I added nearly 2 C of cream, roughly guessing as to how much cream to add. Put the caramel back over the heat and cook for ~3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not be alarmed if a glob of caramel seems to be in the bottom of the pan, as it will melt again when you put it back over the heat. The sauce for the dessert is now complete. If possible, make this in advance, so it has time to cool down. When ready to serve dessert, quarter one banana per person, leaving the peels on.

Bananas and sugar.

Bananas and sugar.

One banana, quartered, per person.

One banana, quartered, per person.

Rub the exposed surfaces of the bananas in sugar, and then remove the peels.

Bananas coated in sugar.

Bananas coated in sugar.

Place the sugared bananas on a rack over foil, and brulee them with a torch until they are golden brown.

Sugared bananas over foil.

Sugared bananas over foil.

Torching the bananas, with a helper.

Torching the bananas, with a helper.

12-18-2014 026

Golden brown bananas.

Golden brown bananas.

At this point, all of the components of your dessert are ready. For plating, put the caramel sauce in a squeeze bottle and squirt it in a decorative pattern on the plate. Top the sauce with four banana pieces, layered like Lincoln logs in two layers.

Caramel with bananas.

Caramel with bananas.

Add a scoop of ice cream (I used store-bought vanilla, or you could use Alton’s vanilla ice cream recipe), and top with a doodad.

Finished banana split.

Finished banana split.

12-18-2014 032 We ate these banana splits as dessert after a regular weeknight dinner, and the dessert definitely stole the show. The great things about this dish are the contrasting textures and temperatures. While the caramel sauce is smooth, sweet, and smokey, the bananas are warm, moist, and coated with a crunchy shellac. In addition to the bananas, you have cold ice cream and a crunchy doodad. This is a great dessert, and I would definitely make it again. The resulting presentation is impressive, especially given the effort put in. I can see why my dad wanted to make this when he originally watched the episode. It is a great dessert.

Comments
  1. […] is a pretty good chance that I will make this again in the future, though I will make Alton’s caramel sauce next time. If you are a flan fan, you likely would think this recipe is flantastic! Okay, that was […]

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