A few years ago I hit on one of those holiday recipes that became tradition. A sweet potato casserole that had one magical ingredient… banana. But it wasn’t just the banana that made it so special, it was the treatment of it, specifically roasting, that opened culinary doors for me. During my externship after pastry school I was first introduced to roasted ginger to add complexity of flavor to the final dish. Think Chef thought I was a bit crazy asking him why all the ginger was in the salamander. I was mesmerized.So when I first came across the idea of roasted bananas I knew it had to be good. Great even.
No more waiting for bananas to go overripe to make banana bread. Roasting develops the natural sweetness of the bananas, and it softens the flesh so there is no real mashing to speak of. It takes mere minutes, and its this kind of trick, taking something one more level, that lifts a recipe from basic homemade to something really special.
Here I use the technique to make a ganache that becomes the filling for chocolate sandwich cookies. Very chocolatey, carmely and overall deliciously satisfying, these cookies are as popular on the table as that original sweet potato casserole, and disappear just as fast. I highly suggest you make them, but if you don’t, definitely roast a banana or two… put them in smoothies, bake them into cakes, or just spread them over ice cream. I love the chocolate coconut one I shared in this post. I promise, you won’t be sorry.
Chocolate Banana Sandwich Cookies
Measurements are given in ounces, but their corresponding volume measurements are in parenthesis following.
1 Medium banana
5 oz Semisweet Chocolate
4 fl oz Heavy cream
½ cup Sugar
½ tsp Salt
10 oz (2 c) All purpose flour
3 oz (1/3 c) Cocoa Powder
¼ tsp Baking powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
3 oz (¾ c) Powdered sugar
4 oz (½ c +1Tbs) Brown Sugar
6 oz Unsalted butter, softened
3 Egg yolks
1 Tbs Vanilla
Make the filling first to allow it to set. To ensure success, make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go so you can quickly move through the process and not over cook the caramel.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Poke a few small holes in the banana and roast it skin on, on the rack of the oven for a few minutes until blackened all over. When cool enough to handle, remove the pulp from the skin and mash thoroughly with a fork. Let cool.
Chop chocolate finely and place in a medium size heat-proof bowl.
Using the ½ cup of sugar, make a dry caramel. Heat a light colored medium saucepan over medium high heat. When hot, sprinkle the sugar over the bottom of the pan. As it quickly melts and starts to caramelize, stir with a wooden spoon. Keep adding the sugar in thin layers and stirring until you’ve used it all, all the sugar has dissolved and it’s turned a rich caramel color. Immediately remove from the heat and carefully add the heavy cream to the caramel. Be careful as this can spit and continue boiling. Place the pot back over the heat and bring back to a boil, making sure to re-melt any caramel that may have set up when adding the cream. Stir in the salt. Pour the boiling caramel cream over the chopped chocolate. Gently shake the bowl to make sure all the chocolate is submerged. Let this sit for 5 minutes. Whisk completely until silky and shiny. Stir in the mashed banana. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the chocolate. Let sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours to set completely. Yours may set up faster or slower depending on the room temperature. Its best to let it firm up at room temperature, but you can also place this in the refrigerator to speed setting but be careful to watch it so that it doesn’t set up to hard.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the butter, brown sugar and powder sugar. Cream with a paddle on medium speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the yolks one at a time. Mix in the vanilla.
Add flour/coco mix in two additions, mixing on low speed just to combine. Divide the dough in half and place each half between two pieces of parchment. Roll the dough between the parchment as thin as possible, about 1/8” thick. Repeat with the remaining half. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. The dough may be rerolled.
Using a 2” round cutter, cut cookies from the chilled dough and place them on parchment lined cookie sheets with about a 1/2” of space between the cookies. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes until the tops are no longer shiny. Cool completely.
Transfer the set chocolate banana cream to a pastry bag with a 1/2” tip. Turn half of the cookies upside down. Pipe about 1 teaspoon of filling on the upturned cookies. Top with another cookie, pressing down gently to distribute the filling.
Makes 24 2” cookies.