Unfortunately most places outside of Florida do not have sizeable Cuban populations. Due to this fact many people do not have the opportunity to try Cuban cuisine, which is indeed one of the better "Spanish" influenced cuisines around. What I love about this cuisine is the fact you have the Spanish influence meshing with the Caribbean and the outcome is usually fresh, original, healthy and tasty.
This recipe, which I call Banana's Havana, I created as a homage to this cuisine. One time when I was in Florida and rapidly gaining weight by trying out all the Cuban restaurants in Miami, I came across a dish which featured a caramel made in many kitchens throughout Cuba. In Cuba they use this caramel to dip fruits. This particular caramel is not as sweet as you might be used to and has a wonderful hint of vanilla to it. Since I love bananas (a Cuban staple), I devised this dish.
You might also note this is one of the few banana dessert recipes where the banana is not cooked in one way or the other. The reason I do not cook the banana is the fact I really can't stand the texture of a cooked banana and I think the natural texture of the pod (which is what a banana is) goes perfectly with the caramel and the sliced almonds.
So, venture with me now to Cuba and enjoy Banana's Havana!
Ingredients needed to make Banana's Havana (serves 2):
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbs. corn syrup (the light variety)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbs. vanilla
- 3 Tbs. butter, cubed
- 2 bananas, peeled and cut into fourths
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Into a heavy pan and over medium heat, stir together the sugar, salt, water and corn syrup. Keep stirring this mixture until the sugar melts and the color of the liquid turns a light amber in color (this will take around 15 minutes).
- Once it is a light amber color, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the cream and vanilla (be careful with this step as it could bubble-up rapidly).
- Whisk in the butter until it has melted and is fully incorporated.
- Let the caramel cool about 10 minutes so it thickens up.
- Place the bananas onto serving plates.
- Spoon the caramel over the bananas, sprinkle with the almonds and serve.
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