[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

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When a bunch of bananas begin to go south, it is arduous to beat a freshly baked loaf of banana bread. However after a sure variety of loaves, it is regular for any baker to crave a change of tempo.
For me, that is the place banana pudding is available in. No, not that banana pudding, the one made with sliced bananas, vanilla pudding, and vanilla wafers. This one—a thick and creamy stovetop custard with the form of deep and complicated banana taste that may solely be extracted by a protracted, gradual steep.
The sort of banana pudding is consolation meals at its greatest, easy and comfy and heat (particularly when made with toasted sugar for some delicate caramel notes). But when that is not your velocity, the pudding base is simply as simply lightened with whipped cream to function a calming crémeux as an alternative (pastry-chef converse for something lighter than pudding however not as ethereal as a mousse).
This format trades the moment gratification and best-eaten-alone-without-pants-on vibe for a barely extra refined strategy, one higher fitted to serving on the dinner desk (or layered with sliced bananas and vanilla wafers if you wish to return to that no-pants life-style).
Whichever incarnation you favor, the custard begins with sliced bananas (and a leftover vanilla bean in case you occur to have one) steeped with scorching milk in a 3-quart stainless-steel saucier.
Pulling out a powerful banana taste will take not less than 4 hours, however deeper, extra advanced banana notes will emerge over time, so I usually let the steeping course of go so long as 24 hours (coated and refrigerated, after all).
What this technique lacks in on the spot gratification, it greater than makes up for with depth, depth of taste, and texture. As a result of the bananas hand over all their taste, the fruit pulp itself could be strained out, permitting for probably the most splendidly silky-smooth custard with none sacrifice of taste in any respect (that is how I make banana ice cream, too).
Whether or not steeped for 4 or 24 hours, return the banana milk to a simmer, after which pressure by way of a fine-mesh, nonreactive sieve. Press gently on the banana pulp to extract all of the milk, however do not push so arduous that the solids go by way of, as it will solely make the custard lumpy and skinny.
If utilizing a vanilla bean, remember to scrape out the flavorful, vanilla-flecked milk trapped in every half of the pod earlier than discarding.
With the banana milk out of the best way, the custard base could be ready in the identical saucier as earlier than (no want to scrub). Simply whisk the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cloves, and egg yolks earlier than including the nice and cozy milk.
Cloves could seem to be a random addition to the custard, however they’re excessive in an important oil referred to as eugenol, which is of course ample in bananas. When used modestly, cloves could make banana desserts style extra banana-y with out edging right into a boldly spiced profile of their very own.
In lieu of traditional tempering, the place boiling scorching milk is whisked into the eggs and sugar, this custard is gently warmed over medium-low warmth till steaming scorching, at which level it may well safely be cooked over medium warmth with out worry of scrambling the eggs.
As soon as it is effervescent scorching, the custard is held at a boil for 90 seconds to neutralize a starch-dissolving enzyme present in egg yolks after which doctored with vanilla off-heat. If desired, the custard could be strained by way of a mesh sieve for an extrasmooth consistency.
For these craving a heat dessert, it is time to dish up and dig in!
For these patiently plotting a crémeux, the nice and cozy custard ought to be unfold out in a big baking dish to cowl and refrigerate till chilly. From there, it may be stirred till mushy and {smooth} after which folded with stiffly whipped cream to lighten issues up.
Hold at it till the combination is creamy and {smooth}; then switch to a disposable pastry bag fitted with a big star tip. Pipe into serving dishes to take pleasure in immediately, or cowl and chill till wanted—they will maintain about 24 hours within the fridge.
I prefer to pair the candy and mellow crémeux with one thing daring and crunchy for distinction, like cocoa nibs or toasted pecans, however it’s unbelievable as filling for cream puffs, doughnuts, banana pudding, and even stuffed French toast.
So the subsequent time you have acquired a bunch of speckled bananas, relaxation assured there’s extra to life than banana bread, whether or not you are craving one thing scorching or chilly.

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