Croissant Bread Pudding

The poll results for what I should blog next……Croissant Bread Pudding…sorry Ben, grits are next I promise.fin2I love bread pudding…..with no raisins:) I love all food without raisins.  I am that girl in restaurants that always asks “does your bread pudding have raisins in it?” Sadly, the answer is usually yes, except in New Orleans. Best response I ever got to my annoying question “no darlin’ we don’t do that down here” I remember my mom and I both squealing with glee, although we may have been drunk…. we were on a culinary cocktail tour after all.

I’ve messed with plenty of bread pudding recipes, most are too sweet and or too dry. This one I’m sharing with you is over the top rich, but moist and nourishing. Tons of eggs, buttery croissants, not too much sugar…..prefect. Could be breakfast with coffee or for dessert, just add a sticky sweet bourbon sauce.

Here is what you’ll need.

  • 3 extra large whole eggs
  • 8 extra large egg yolks
  • 5 cups half n half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large croissants or 20 mini croissants, chopped in 2 inch chunks

Not everyone has croissants laying around needing to be used up. I bake off tons each morning at work and sometimes they get burned…..yes it happens to all of us. So I trim off the dark bottoms and save them up. This recipe definitely benefits from day old croissants, or two days old…even better. Ready? Pre heat your oven to 375°yolksThis is the 3 whole eggs and and the 8 yolks. If using large eggs add 2 extra yolks.weteggmixadd the half n half, vanilla and salt, whisk until well incorporated. set asidecrosschopChop your croissants (these are the minis I used) larges one chop in cubes.gratinsreadyFill your baking dishes with the chopped croissant. I used one 2 qt casserole dish, two 16 oz ramekins and 2 smaller 7 oz ramekins. Break it down for your needs, one big casserole for a party, lots of minis for take to the office treats.filledsoakFill each baking dish with the egg half n half mixture, let it soak for about 15 minutes, making sure to push the croissants down into the liquid. The mixture will puff up during cooking so do not overfill your baking dishes.bainmarieReady some bain maries or water baths for your ramekins/casseroles. Each one needs to be in a larger baking dish with boiling water added half way up the ramekin. Bake for 45 minutes. The smaller dishes should be done, larger dishes will take another 20 minutes. Bake until the mixture is set and slightly browned in top. fin1Cool and eat slightly warm or chill and eat, tasty both ways. Add some fresh chopped strawberries too. I’d like to share a comment I got on this recipe, “all bread pudding should taste like this” Phil N. Seattle, WA, James agreed.

 

It’s almost cookie season…..

Hi…..It’s Sarah……remember me?

I know, I know the radio silence has been deafening lately. I’m back to some sort of normal life again so here I am ready to pay attention to this lovely little blog I created. While trying to figure out what to share, I was looking back at the last additions I’d made to my blog. I quickly realized a lot has happened and time has gone by so quickly! It looks as though I stopped posting right when I cut off the tip of my finger while working at the Montage. Man that was a bummer, my first trip to an ER…EVER! The finger situation had nothing to do with my absence on the blog, but working my ass off at the Montage did. Oh the Montage, my time at the Loft. Culinary boot camp is one way to describe it, shit show was sometimes mentioned, killing it, digging your ass out of the weeds, a blur, a blast, insanity….never boring and always exciting. The food was amazing, the Chefs were talented and so generous with their talent. I met great people while I was there and consider myself lucky to have spent time with them. Here’s a look at some of the crew I rolled with.IMG_4906Ben, Josh, Manny, Dylan, Spencer and Mike. Gary 86’d me on my last night. Wonder if they miss me….

I’m sure most of you know by now that I’ve moved on from the Montage. In late August I got a call from the Casa Laguna Inn and Spa asking me to come back as Executive Chef. I accepted the position, made a graceful exit from the Loft and jumped head first into my new role. Within 2 weeks I created a new menu, hired crew, had a menu tasting, launched my new menu and its all been going great since. Already working on the winter menu launching in early December.

k enough about me… wasn’t I talking about cookie season???IMG_4907This is the best almond cookie ever and even though she is blurry in this picture, Lily is the best dog ever. I got this recipe from my Dad, he used to make tons of these as gifts for all the nurses that cared for him back when he had his old lungs. Now he makes them for all the nurses and doctors that follow the progress with his new lungs:) I make them all the time for friends, for gifts, for parties and to help people feel better…….

What you will need:IMG_4882

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

3 eggs separated – 2 white together 1 whole egg and 2 yolks

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

2 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

48 whole almonds

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.IMG_4884Add the 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg & the extractsIMG_4883IMG_4885beat until eggs are incorporated and fluffy. add nuts.IMG_4889add flour and salt, mixing quickly but not too much, until all is blended well.IMG_4892With a scooper portion out all the dough into 1 inch balls or roll in your hand, dip them in the unbeaten egg whites. Place a whole almond in the center top of each cookie, brush the almond with more egg white and sprinkle your favorite salt on top. I use either pink salt or maldon salt.IMG_4893ready to bake at 375 for 13-15 minutesIMG_4895The egg white glazes the cookies, the center is soft, rich and nutty. Seriously a great cookie. I’ve changed the recipe a bit from my Dad’s, no doubt I’ll hear about it from Dad.

Summer was a blur, besides getting my ass kicked at the Loft most days, I did find the time for fun stuff. A beautiful family wedding in Santa Cruz, JT & JZ with my Lolo, Yosemite with my Jim and a few rare beach days.

What have y’all been up to?

Pine Nut Tart

fin2This is April’s take on a treacle tart, a favorite English dessert. The magic ingredient is Lyle’s Golden Syrup…..it’s Happy and Glorious, says so right on the can…love it.LylesWhen I started this project, I had a crazy list of items to be on the lookout for, things not normally found in American grocery stores. Lyle’s was on that list of course. My girl LoLo found me some and I scored some up in Seattle. Fun story about trying to get “a liquid filled cylindrical can” through security…totally spaced that it was in my carry on. It took about 5 “bosses” to realize that it was just a can of sugar, they were kind about it…thankfully.

Here is what you will need

Crust is same one used for the Banoffee Pie, click here to see it again. Bake the tart shell in a 9″ fluted tart pan with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans for 15 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown in a 350° oven.  No need to bake further after weights are removed.

Filling

1/2 cup of pine nuts

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup coarse bread crumbs, I cheated and used panko

one 454 gram can Lyle’s Golden Syrup

2 tablespoons heavy cream

finely grated zest of 4 large lemons

1/4 cup fino sherry, I used whatever sherry I had in the cupboard

1/2 teaspoon Maldon salttartfixinsToast the pine nuts in a small saute pan.toastnutsUntil golden browned edges appear, careful these toast up fast. Do not walk away from them. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and let them cool. syrupAdd the remaining filling ingredients and whisk until really combined. zestnutsbeforeRight before you pour the filling into the shell, stir it up and pour in evenly. Bake at 350° for 25 to 35 minutes or until center is slightly jiggly. afterLet it cool a bit then slice and enjoy. Serve with vanilla ice cream, clotted cream or whoop cream aka whipped cream.yumbite

The mix of the lemon zest with the sherry and the sweet of the syrup and the soft richness of the pine nuts is glorious and it will make you happy…..just like the Lyle’s can says.

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt, Eggs and Mint

fin2Look at that! Rich tangy tomato sauce, tender perfect meatballs, creamy egg yolk, cool plain yogurt and refreshing mint. I figured this dish would be fun to make with a team of friends, so I enlisted some of my fav foodies. What a blast we had cooking, sipping wine and laughing. They were all amazing helpers, which allowed me to get some good photos. Thanks to Lauren, Cathie and Stuart for all your help. You all are welcome to come cook with me anytime!

Here is what you will need.

Meatballs

2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces

2 1/2 tablespoons maldon salt

1/2 pound (about 2 cups) fine bread crumbs

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Sauce

1 large spanish onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 dutch or other spicy long red chilies, pierced with a sharp knife

One 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained, trimmed and squished with your hands….San Marzano’s are the best.

1/2 cup or more of whole milk greek yogurt

4 large eggs

Finishing

small handful of mint

small handful of delicate cilantro sprigs

extra virgin olive oil

You will also need a meat grinder, the attachment for the kitchen aid stand mixer works perfectly. April says grinding the meat yourself will produce a light, airy and delicate ground meat. Commercially ground meat is over worked, sticky and paste like. She was right, the meatballs came out amazingly tender and light. I will forever grind my own meat:)

First step – place cubed lamb meat into a bowl and set in freezer for an hour or so until the edges get crunchy and slightly frozen.lambcoldToss the cubed meat with salt and the bread crumbs. Grind the meat through the medium dielambgrind1Run it through again on the same medium die. Nice job Cathie! Raw meat never really photographs well, but this looks cool.lambgrind3Before you start rolling out your meatballs, sear one off to check for seasoning. At this point you could add more salt if needed. Once you’re comfortable with the seasoning, start shaping your balls.balls1Perfectly shaped balls by Stuartballs3Now its time to brown the balls. Sear them on all side, do not cook them through. Let them rest to the side while you make the sauce.spice1Toast the cumin and corianderspice2Grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinderspice3Grind to a fine powder, some larger bits are ok for texturesauce1Over a high heat saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, then add the ground spices . Add pierced chilies (I couldn’t find long red chilies so I used green ones) and the squished tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes then add 4 cups of water, bring to boil, turn down to a low simmer for 5 minutes.sauce2

Cathie loved squishing the tomatoes 🙂sauce3Add the seared meatballs into sauce and simmer slowly for 30 minutes.sauce4After 30 minutes, add blobs of yogurt and the eggs. Simmer on low for about 10 more minutes, this will poach the eggs and leave them with firm whites and runny yolks. Check the eggs at 5 minutes to see how they’re coming along, strain them out when the eggs are the way you like them, cooked soft or hard, your choice. I like runny yolks. Sprinkle the cilantro and mint torn in small pieces over the whole stew. Finish with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.fin1Check out the eggs cooked, hard white runny yolks. perfect!fin3Make yourself a bowl and eat immediately. The recipe made a ton, easily enough for 6 people, I had doubled it so everyone got balls to take home. I had so much fun making this with my friends, its a great group effort dish. Grab your family/friends and settle in for an afternoon of cooking and great eating.cheersCheers!!!

Pancakes with Bacon and Chili

Yes you read that right…Pancakes, Bacon and Chilies OH MY!PCdone3Look at these! So pretty all stacked up with salty bacon on top, glistening with syrup and a sprinkling of pequin chilies. I was alone when I made these and I was seriously talking out loud to myself about how f*cking great they tasted. The sweet, salty, spicy blend was perfect! They really are more like crepes, but April calls them pancakes. I’ve made crepes for my son Ben his whole life, he is going to flip his lid when he tries these! I kind of feel like James and the goat cheese souffle….where have these been all my life? I LOVE the stacked and slice it like a pie way to serve it. Genius April!

Here is what you will need

For the Batter

1/2 pound of all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cup)

kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 3/4 cups milk

3/4 cup water

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

For the Pancakes

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and bit more for finishing

12 slices of bacon

maple syrup

dried pequin chilies

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt. Make a well and crack the eggs into the well.eggwellSlowly add the milk and water, whisk until smooth. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter and whisk again. Batter will be liquidy.smoothbatterMelt the remaining butter and set aside. Ready your pan, I used a 6″ non stick saute pan, April called for an 8″ pan, use whatever you have, non stick is key. butterpanAdd a scant teaspoon of the melted butter to your hot pan, add about 2 tablespoons of the batter and quickly swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan like a crepe. The pan should be hot enough so the batter cooks up quickly and browns the edges within a minute or so. When you see browned edges, flip it over. There are two ways to do this, flip it in the pan with a quick jerk of your wrist while tossing it up and back to catch it. Or you can grab the edge of the pancake and flip it with your hands or use a spatula. Do whatever works for you, once you get your groove going, you’ll start kicking them out pretty fast. Add new melted butter each time you make a new one. Repeat until all the batter is gone. It was hard to photo this part, since I was alone, so the pictures don’t really show the detail I’m trying to share. I hope I am explaining this well and I wish you luck. Don’t get discouraged, keep at it, you will want to eat these. PCcookThis is color you’re looking for on the pancake.PCstackThis is the thinness you’re looking for. Stack them on a plate and keep warm in the oven. While all your pretty cooked pancakes stay warm in the oven, cook up the bacon.PCdone2Cut the stacked pancakes like a pie and serve with real maple syrup, bacon and chopped pequin chilies. Oh My God! you’ll die these are so dang good!

Goat Cheese Souffle

Recipe 14 of 103

Souffle’s are decadently light and airy, like eating a cloud of cheese. Souffles can be very tricky to make. It’s the balance of perfectly folded egg whites into a smooth creamy mixture of flour, butter, milk, yolks and cheese for a savory souffle or sugar for a sweet souffle. You will achieve success with this souffle, I promise…if you do what I say via April’s brilliant recipe. This dish can be treated as a starch side dish instead of potatoes or polenta. It also shines on its own as a main dish served with a side salad. My husband James had one comment for this souffle “where has this been all my life?” 🙂 He really enjoyed it!

Here is what you will need

Preheat oven to 350°

1/2 cup unsalted marcona almonds or regular blanched almonds

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp plus more for the baking dish

2 cups whole milk   –  YES whole milk

1 teaspoon finely grated garlic, preferably with a microplane (about 3 cloves)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup AP flour

1/2 pound fresh goat cheese

4 large eggs, yolks and whites separatedalmonds

Toast the almonds in a small saute pan over medium heat until golden brown, let them cool. I used regular blanched almonds.grindnutsFinely grind the almonds in a food processorbutteralmondsGenerously butter your casserole baking dish (2 qt with at least 2″sides) and coat with the ground almonds, making sure to get all the sides and bottom evenly. Set aside.garlicgratedGrate the garlic like this. In a sauce pot add the milk, garlic, salt and bring to a boil.spiltmilkDon’t be a spazz like me and let your milk boil over…ugh! I hate it when this happens. As soon as the milk mixture boils, remove from heat right away and pour into a heat proof measuring cup.rouxIn a nice clean pot, melt butter until frothy and add flour.roux2Whisk together until fully incorporated, cooking on a low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. This is called a roux.rouxandmilkOn a low heat add 1/2 cup at a time of the hot milk mixture to the roux, whisking vigorously to incorporate. It will thicken right away and lump up a bit, don’t worry, get to whisking and it will smooth out. Cook for about 5 minutes, add half the goat cheese and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool. addyolksAdd the yolks to the cooled cheesy mixturewhipwhites Whip the whites to stiff peaksfoldedwhitesFold the whites into your smooth cheesy mixture, very carefully. Try your best not to deflate all that air you whipped into those whites. If there are bits of egg white still showing, no biggie, just go with it. bakereadyPour the batter into your prepared casserole dish and crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top. Ready a bain-marie, set the baking dish in a larger baking pan with a dish towel on the bottom and fill with boiling water half way up your casserole. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour or until its puffed up and golden brown.souffledoneLike this!! Golden brown goodness! The best part for me is the crispy nutty almond crust. So good! I made this early in the day, let it cool completely, wrapped in plastic and chilled in fridge. I reheated for dinner in a 325° oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, it puffed right back up and it was amazingly perfect.

Green Pea and Ham Soup


Recipe 13 of 103

How about some soup?

PeaSoup01

photo by Jenny

Creamy, earthy, sweet and savory green pea soup with lovely chunks of smoked ham hock. April has you make a ham stock with smoked ham hocks. So lets chat about ham hocks for a moment. The ham hocks you get at a regular grocery stores are smoked and cured, usually all bone, very little meat and that weird overly cured pink color making them very salty. If you can avoid these, please do so, this way you can control the flavor of your soup and it won’t taste like curing salt. Try to find fresh smoked ham hocks, whole foods whole paycheck has them or most good butchers should too. Cooking beans all day with the cured smoked hocks works very well, they stand up to each other much better, but for this soup, you want the delicate pea flavor to shine.

Here is what you will need

For the Broth/Stock

2 pounds meaty smoked ham hocks

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

3 small celery stocks

1/2 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 head of garlic, halved horizontally, not peeled

1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 a dried bay leaf

6 black peppercorns

Combine hocks, veggies, bay leaf, peppercorns and 8 cups of water in a stock pot and simmer for 4 to 5 hours. hamstockThe meat on the hocks should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove the hocks to a big bowl, strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into the same bowl and let the hocks cool in the liquid. When the hocks are cooled, remove all the meat, discarding any fatty hard bits. If you’re lucky and you get hocks with the skin still on them, reserve the skin after cooking and crisp them up in the broiler for a crunchy garnish. Since the hocks I got weren’t cured they needed some salt. I salted mine and crisped them in the broiler. You can make the broth/stock a day or two ahead. hamhockmeat

For the Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 teaspoons maldon salt

1/2 cup dry white wine, sauvignon blanc would work nicely

five finger pinch of fresh mint leaves and more torn leaves for finishing

2 10oz packages of frozen peas

extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

3 -4 tablespoons creme fraiche

PeaSoup02

photo by Jenny

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the onions, carrots and salt. Cover and cook, stirring every now and then until onions are creamy and carrots are tender but still firm. about 15 minutes.

PeaSoup04

photo by Jenny

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let the wine boil until it’s all but gone, about 5 minutes.

PeaSoup05

photo by Jenny

Add 4 cups of broth (freeze the remainder for another batch of soup) bring to boil. Look at that lovely ham hock broth!

PeaSoup06

photo by Jenny

Add the mint and frozen peas. Cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes until peas are warmed and tender.IMG_3264Puree soup with an immersion blender right in the pot or transfer in batches and puree in a blender. Add the ham chunks (save some for garnishing) back into the soup and simmer until the ham is warmed. Check seasoning, depending on how salty your hocks were, you may need more salt.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, a few mint leaves, chunk of ham and a big dollop of creme fraiche. YUM! nothing like home-made soup.

Ginger Cake

Recipe 9 of 103

Gingerbread is a childhood memory for me. Every summer my Mom and I would go to the Del Mar Fair. There were two things we always did every year, eat gingerbread and take pictures in the photo booth.gingerbreadhut

My Mom would sing this song on our way to the little pink gingerbread hut. Actually anytime gingerbread was on a menu, served at a party, seen on TV or anywhere it was mentioned we would both start singing the gingerbread song. I thought it was a song my Mom made up, she has a serious silly gene that she has so lovingly passed on to my kid and me. About a month ago I made gingerbread cupcakes for her birthday and she set out to find the original song so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Now on to April’s Ginger Cake, it’s a spicy, moist, rich treat for sure. The kicker is tons of fresh ginger and to seal the deal……tons of whoop cream!

Here is what you will need.

Serves 8-10

1 stick unsalted butter at room temp, a bit more for the pan

2 1/2 cups AP flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup unsulfured light molasses, not blackstrap

1 teaspoon backing soda

1 packed cup of dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger

Preheat oven to 325° position rack in the middle of your oven

Butter a 8 inch springform pan that is at least 3 inches deepcakepanCut an 8″ circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan…like this.drymixMeasure and mix all the dry ingredients except the baking sodamolassesMix the molasses, boiling water and baking soda until all are dissolved.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as you go, then add egg, mix until incorporated. gingerfreshAdd the grated ginger….look at all that ginger!! I was seriously geeking out at this point. I love fresh ginger.readytomixAlternately add the dry mix and the molasses mixture until all combined.oventimeFill your prepared pan and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick or a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool a bit in the pan before you remove the ring from the springform pan. Not too long though its lovely served warm.

Get your whoop cream ready and dollop it generously over a warm slice of ginger cake. Remember when I say whoop cream, I mean make it yourself, no canned crap. Whip heavy whipping cream with a little powdered sugar or no sugar until fluffy, maybe add a bit of vanilla extract and zest some orange rind over the whoop like thiscake

I loved this recipe, very easy and it has forever changed my taste for “gingerbread” I’m sure I’ll partake at the little pink hut again in my life but I will make this cake forever to satisfy my ginger cake needs.

Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast

Recipe 8 of 103

This one is for my Mom, she loves chicken livers. This is from the chapter called “nibbles” April serves this at the Spotted Pig in NY, it’s a staple on her menu. I will admit I hated liver growing up, my mom tried her best to get me to like it, but I wasn’t having it. Later in my life I fell in love with pate, so liver and me have since made friends. This dish is so easy and delicious.livertoast1

Here is what you will need

serves 4

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons madeira

2 tablespoons port

1/2 pound chicken livers (get good livers, Mary’s organic air chilled are divine! can be purchased at whole foods paycheck ) trimmed and separated into lobes

maldon salt

small handful of parsley leaves

crusty thick bread for the toasts

shallotsgarlicChop the shallots and slice the garlic like thissautesgHeat a saute pan with 2 tablespoons of oil, when its nice and hot add the shallots, saute for a minute or so then add the garlic, cook until shallots and garlic are softened but not too browned.addhoochDeglaze the pan with the Port and Madeira, be careful the alcohol may start to flame up. Quickly remove from heat, stir all the bits off the bottom of the pan and pour into a small bowl and set aside.

liverThis is not a very appetizing picture, but I wanted you to see the lobes. Pat the livers dry with a paper towel gently. fryliverWhen the pan is good and hot, add the livers in a single layer, cook on one side until golden about 1-2 minutes, flip them over and cook for another minute or so, add a teaspoon of salt at this pointfryliver2They should be bouncy and slightly pink in the centers, do not over cook them. Turn off the heat and add the shallot, garlic, alcohol mixturefryliver3Scrape up all the sticky bits on the bottom of the pan, transfer to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the livers, add more salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and mash it up, leaving some big chunks and some creamy parts too. Let cool to room temp.addparsleyServe on any kind of toasty crunchy bread you likelivertoast2So GOOD and so good for you! Liver cooked right is delicate, earthy, rich, packed with iron and delicious. Try it. Don’t be ninny.

Banoffee Pie

Recipe 6 of 103

Banoffee Pie? New to me, how about you? It’s creation dates back to an English Pub called the Hungry Monk in the 1970’s in East Sussex. As I read the recipe I stopped at “caramelized milk” and I had a wtf moment. I read further and all I could think was, this is starting to sound white trash in a way and I love it! Caramelized milk is sweetened condensed milk in a can that has been boiled for 4 hours. I have never been a fan of sweetened condensed milk (aka SCM cause I’m tired of typing it), it reminds me of all those overly sweet dessert bars that were huge when I was a kid, if I see SCM in a recipe, I move on to something else. Admittedly I was curious about the process of caramelizing in the can, so I let my snobbery go and I dove into this recipe openly. Lets start with the caramelized milk. Boil two 14 ounce cans, labels removed of SCM for 4 hours. Make sure there is always at least 2 inches of water above the top of the cans. Rumor is, if the water gets below the top of the can they can explode. I didn’t want to test the rumor so I obeyed April’s advice, checking the water every 20 minutes or so.caramelmilk1This is what it looks like when its donecaramelmilk2

Still super sweet but it takes on a deeper caramel flavor. You could put this on all sorts of dessert items. Or just eat spoonfuls right out the can in the middle of the night….Jim!

On to the crust, here is what you will need.

1 1/2 cups AP flour

1/2 powdered sugar

1 stick unsalted butter chilled and cubed

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

crust1Pulse in a food processor the flour, salt, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs, add the egg yolks, pulse until it looks like a crumbly dough. Pour onto your work surface and form into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours. crust2

This dough came together instantly, very easy to work with. Do not knead it to death, just ball it up into a disc, done. OK ready for the cool part? April grates her dough like cheese!! Brilliant! I love her method for this, no rolling out dough, yippee!crust3Cut your chilled dough into a few chunks and grate like cheese, press the grated dough into a fluted 10″ tart  pan with a removable bottom. Work quickly, you don’t want your warm hands to soften the dough too much. If it does get a bit warm while you’re working, let it rest in the fridge to cool down again. Prick the dough with a fork after you’ve got it all pressed into the tart shell.crust4Line your dough with a circle of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes at 350°, when edges are golden, remove beans and paper and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown all over. Let crust coolcrustdoneLets assemble this pie. Here is what you will need.

8 to 10 small bananas

2 cans of caramelized milk

2 cups of chilled heavy cream

3 tablespoons of powdered sugar

1 vanilla bean split lengthwise

3 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Grab your perfectly baked and cooled tart shell, layer the bottom with sliced bananas like this.banana

Add spoonfuls of the caramelized milkcaramelSpread the caramelized milk so it covers all the bananas like this, an offset spatula is the tool for this, get one.chillreadyAt this point chill the pie for at least 2 hours. April said to cover with plastic wrap, I did as she said and it stuck to the caramel and was a tragic mess trying to get it off the pie. Make your own call on this step.

Now on to the whoop cream! Yes I said whoop, get over it. Split your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla caviar.vanillacaviarWhip the heavy cream, vanilla bean caviar and powdered sugar in a stand mixer. Whip until you have stiff peaks but not butter. whoopChill the whoop and spread another layer of bananas on your chilled piebanana2Top the pie with your freshly whipped creamwhup1Top with grated chocolatedone1Chill, serve chilled, keep chilled.done2So here are my thoughts on this pie. VERY SWEET! The bananas, cream and caramel are divine together and the crust is perfect. I would tweak a few things on the next go around, use less of the caramelized milk, no sugar in the whoop but use twice as much whoop. Maybe even add a layer of grated chocolate over the first layer of bananas? April says this pie would be the dessert for her last meal here on earth. My people loved it, sadly my Mom and Kid didn’t have the chance to try it yet, they are both huge banana cream pie fans, I’m guessing they will love this pie.

Cheers! I’m off to forage for food.