Hear Ye! Hear Ye! This is the eighth post in the second annual Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! festivities at LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. Only one more post to go. Unless I throw in the Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake, which makes me wonder why on earth beer isn’t used in more desserts.
To check out the wonderful chocolate creations we debuted last February, as well as this year’s creations, be sure to visit the All Chocolate! recipe archive. Just click on any picture to go to the post. And do come back soon, as we are saving our pièce de résistance, LunaCafe Truly Chewy Bittersweet Brownies, for the last post of the celebration.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming:
As I said in the previous post, Caramelized Ancho Chile & Cinnamon Almonds, are you ready for one of the most spectacular desserts I have ever created? It is so indulgent, so bright, so refreshing, so festive, and so sinful (Using fresh strawberries out of season? Have I gone to the dark side?) that it may well be the PERFECT dessert with which to bid winter a grateful farewell. Goodbye freezing rain, mud, ice, and threats of snow. Goodbye short grey days and long dark nights. Have a safe journey to the other side of the globe, and please please please don’t hurry back.
It’s about this time of year that I begin to notice that a good portion of the condos that dot the urban landscape of downtown Portland, Oregon are dark, even at night. I start to wonder where all those folks have gone and then it hits me. THEY are somewhere warm, somewhere tropical, and somewhere with an abundance of ripe, juicy, succulent fruit. Now, I ask you, is this fair?
I have denied myself strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries all winter because they are out of season in the Northwest. And they probably won’t be available locally for another three months. I can stand it no longer. I know I have to jazz up the strawberries with sugar and citrus and rely on the gorgeous color to trick my taste buds into full rapture, but hey, I have a lively imagination, and I’m willing to use it when the stakes are this high.
I suggest you do the same, because this is one dessert you should treat yourself to right now, local strawberries or not. The end of winter deserves to be celebrated. The combination of flavors, textures, temperatures, and colors is divine and may help you sail into spring with renewed anticipation for all the good foods to come from this fertile, sweet land we call home in the Northwest.
Fried Banana Split with Mexican Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
This dessert is very easy, but it has several elements that should be prepared a day or more ahead. Prepare the chocolate sauce and strawberry sauce at least a day ahead and refrigerate. Prepare the caramelized nuts several hours or even a day ahead and store in a heavy Ziploc bag to ensure a crisp texture. Then an hour or so before serving, make the fruit salsa and refrigerate. Just before serving, line up your dessert plates, julienne a little fresh mint, and sauté the bananas. Your guests are going to going to be very happy!
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 slightly under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise just before sautéing
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pint Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean Ice Cream or homemade Sweet Corn Ice Cream (will post later)
- Prepare Caramelized Ancho Chile Cinnamon Almonds, roughly chop and reserve at room temperature.
- Prepare Mexican Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, and keep warm over barely simmering water (or reheat just before serving).
- Prepare Strawberry Margarita Sauce and chill in the frig.
- Prepare Strawberry Lime Salsa and chill in the frig.
- On a plate, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Coat both sides of the banana halves with the mixture.
- Just before serving, in a sauté pan large enough to place the four banana halves without crowding, melt the butter.
- Sauté the banana halves for 1-2 minutes total, until nicely browned on both sides.
- To serve, place 2 banana halves, slightly apart, on each desert plate. Position 2 scoops of ice cream in the center of each plate. Drizzle the warm chocolate sauce and cold strawberry sauce over the ice cream and top with Strawberry Lime Salsa.
Strawberry Margarita Sauce
This zippy sauce brings out all the sparkling flavor of strawberries at their peak and is wonderful with any number of simple desserts, such as rich vanilla ice cream, tart lemon custard, or brown sugar-glazed fresh peaches.
NOTE If you are alcohol intolerant, this sauce is excellent even without the slight alcohol kick. Just omit the tequila and substitute orange, apple, white grape juice or water.
1 pound (about 3 cups) fresh strawberries, stemmed (you can use frozen, thawed strawberries in a pinch)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup red currant jelly
2 tablespoons Tequila Blanco (or orange juice or water)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the strawberries and sugar. Reserve.
- Put the red currant jelly into a saucepan over medium heat and warm just to melt, whisking until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the tequila and lime juice.
- Add the currant jelly mixture to the strawberries in the processor and pulse to incorporate.
- Strain the sauce through a triple mesh chinoise into a storage container.
- Chill thoroughly and serve cold.
Makes about 2 cups.
Strawberry Lime Salsa
It’s amazing what a simple combination of diced fresh fruit enhanced with a little lime or lemon juice can add to a dessert composition. This combination is especially refreshing alongside chocolate desserts, such as panna cotta, pot de crème, cheesecake, and ice cream.
4 large strawberries, stemmed and diced (½ cup diced)
1 kiwi, peeled and diced (½ cup diced)
½ mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (½ cup diced)
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 leaves fresh mint, minced
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the strawberries, kiwi, mango, lime zest, and sugar to taste.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly before serving.
- Just before serving, add the lime juice and mint.
Makes about 1½ cups.