Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Banana Fritters with Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Syrup
I won't say that I love bananas. I don't love them unconditionally, I only love them when they are a little bit green. Right before they ripen, still firm, with not a speck of brown on them. I don't like to eat them after the dreaded turning point, so I often find myself with the super-brown, barely-any-yellow-left-on-them-bananas. They sit on my counter, staring me in the face each morning, getting progressively browner by the minute, making me feel guilty for being so particular about my banana ripeness requirements.
This was the sad state of mine and my co-workers bananas last week. I decided to take his and mine and make something. I have made banana bread so many times, I did a quick search on the internet and came to www.cooks.com. The recipe seemed simple enough, so I went home and whipped these up.
For the syrup:
2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. water
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 2 tsp real vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick (ground cinnamon is fine if you don't have a stick on hand)
Heat sugar and water in heavy, small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Add cinnamon stick. Oorrrr, if you dont have either of these on hand, you can use vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. I did and it turned out great.
Bring the mixture to simmer over medium heat. Be very watchful at this point. It can and will boil over if you're not watching and it is quite the chore to clean up. Just trust me on this one. :)
Remove from heat, cover and steep 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
For the fritter dough:
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. golden brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 lg. ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
Mix first four ingredients in processor. With machine running, add butter and process until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl.
Mash the bananas in a separate bowl. Combine with the vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients stirring to form soft but not sticky dough. Add a sprinkling more flour if it is too sticky to handle.
Turn onto lightly floured work surface and pat or roll into 6 x 12 inch rectangle.
Cut into 12 or 14 strips. Form strips into rings, pinching ends to seal.
Heat oil in deep pot to 375 degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, I would highly recommend getting one. They sell inexpensive ones at the grocery store for a couple bucks. It is also very handy to have one of those wok skimmers. Retrieving the fritters from 375 degree oil with 2 forks is just not ideal.
Deep-fry fritters in batches until crisp and golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar when they are still warm. It will stick better when they are fresh out of the oil. Let cool on a paper towel lined plate.
Serve immediately with the warm cinnamon-vanilla syrup. These are perfect for dessert, kind of like beignets after dinner in New Orleans, or Pizza Frites at Uncle Rick's on Christmas Eve... but would also be a great addition to your Sunday brunch... Because who doesn't love fried dough?
**If desired, fritter dough can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover lightly with cloth. Leave at room temperature. Once fried, these don't keep overnight.