Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chocolate Banana Jam...Chocolate Banana Clafouti

Yes, you read that title correctly.

I had 5 pounds of bananas, a 9 oz block of Scharffen Berger chocolate, and definitive plans at home for the evening of March 15th.

5 pounds of bananas! And it only cost me $1.99. Yes, that's right folks. The grand old A.C. had a sale on bananas a Sunday or two ago. I was one of the lucky few that scored.

Of course, there was a reason that those bananas were so cheap on the Sunday that I bought them. And that reason kept accruing relevancy as each subsequent day passed. But I was busy. There was an Iditarod completing, after all. There were cookies to bake for a boyfriend travelling to a village. All these things that distracted me from deciding upon the perfect, new, novel, never before done by me or blogged by others use of 5 pounds of bananas. So I put off using the bananas. And, finally, when procrastination threatened to tip the very bargain of my purchase into waste, I decided the time had come to take a stand and make my blogging name with them.

Will you think me a nerd if I tell you that, once that time had finally come, I spent an entire day eagerly anticipating the joy of coming home and making Christine Ferber's Banana with Bittersweet Chocolate Jam? Before you say anything, please consider that - in these plans - I was going to go all Bush Alaskan Haute. Seriously, haute. Nerds aren't haute. Upon contemplation, maybe it was more "quaint." "Haute" is too French for a town that is located 500 airmiles from the nearest opportunity to purchase wine or brie cheese. No, it wasn't quaint either. Life is too real here to be quaint. Rustic, that's what I was contemplating. Oh, it doesn't matter. Whatever it was, I was going for a design. The only problem is that I'm not much for design. I like it, and all, but I have no instinct for it.

But - despite this - I had all these design plans to seal my chocolate and banana bounty in little quaint jam jars adorned with brown paper labels of "Confit de Banane au Chocolat." I was going to cut little quaint strips of duct tape, rugged perhaps in that every strip would probably be of a different width, to seal the labels to the jars. I even thought about asking my dear, dear friend Dickey to work with me to make my dream seal - the Northern Star, in wax.

Yes. That was my plan.

But, alas, life intervened. There were dogs to be walked. There were college friends planning weddings to touch base with, and college roommates to catch up with. There was a gaggle of best buddies watching the Gonzaga game, with phones intentionally left on in order to recieve calls from a nouveau Alaskan buddy who refuses to purchase television reception but still wants to be in the know. There was a neighbor who stopped by to talk to me about his plan to take devilled eggs with green yolks to work for St. Paddy's Day at the local courthouse. There was a good buddy in Unalaska who leaves comments that inspire me to wage quixotic battles with technology. (I lost those battles, but know I'll win the war. Someday.)

There was, indeed, so much going on, that I can't be blamed, can I?, for so ridiculously skipping past one of the key, crucial ingredients of the recipe and not realizing it until all was said and done and past repair........

Here's what I did. I forgot to add 3 3/4 cups sugar to the banana, water and lemon juice concoction that was to be mixed in with the chocolate. Thus, though tasty and visually intriguing, my jam will probably not set. And I will probably be re-mail ordering another precious shipment of Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Chocolate, and going back to the grocery store to pay full-price for more bananas.

Fortunately, it was still delicious. Just not in the way I had planned for. Because this recipe was still so delicious, despite my own mishap, that I feel it is my civic duty not only to try it again, but also to blog about it here.

Banana with Bittersweet Chocolate
(excerpted from Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber)

21/4 pounds bananas, or 11/2 pounds of peeled and sliced bananas
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
9 ounces of extra bittersweet chocolate (I've been hoarding a special-ordered bar of Scharffen Berger 70% cacao for just this purpose), melted (mind you - this is a bear of a chore!)
7 ounces water
Juice of 1 small lemon

1. Peel the bananas and cut them into rounds a little less than 1/2 inch thick. In a preserving pan, combine the banana slices, water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer. Pour into a ceramic bowl Add the chocolate, grated, and mix until it is melted. Cover the fruit with a sheet of parchment paper and refridgerate overnight.

2. Next day, pour this preparation into a preserving pan. Bring it to a boil, stirring continuously. Skim. Mix very gently. Continue cooking on low heat for about 5 minutes, still stirring. Skim again if need be. Return to a boil. Check the set. Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.

a postscript: Delicious, my chocolate banana mix was - but sort of in that way of indicating that it could be so much more so if I had only read and followed Christine Ferber's recipe for chocolate banana jam. [sigh] It did make a great hot fudge sauce. Oh yes, it did make that. Once that potential was identified, we strolled to Video World to rent the movie Gandhi, popped into A.C. on the way back to buy a tub of vanilla ice cream, came home with our bounty and, in a wonderful state of weekend post-trial bliss, sat around, watched movies and ate some very delicious, very easy banana-split-hot-fudge sundaes. I could recommend Christine Ferber's recipe for Chocolate Banana Jam, if only for the opportunity to repeat my mistake and so indulge in its repercussions.

But a couple can only eat a finite number of banana-split-hot-fudge sundaes. So I was very pleased to discover that one can toss a couple ladles of this un-set sauce into the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer, together with a 1/2 cup of melted butter, a dash of salt, 5 eggs, some smashed up walnuts out of the pantry (which, in the future, I would first toast in the oven) and a cup of flour, pour it into a buttered pie plate, toss it into a 350 degree oven until set (I did wonder if 450 degrees might make it come out puffier) and come out with a simple, quick chocolate banana clafouti that makes my boyfriend a happy internet surfer.

1 comment:

Team Wilco said...

I don't want to brag or anything, but guess how much bananas are here??? $1.09 per pound. Yes, that's right. I can't help myself from buying a bunch at every grocery shopping trip, whether we've eaten the last ones or not. Of course, that might not seem cheap to your lower 48 readers, but bananas at $2.29 per pound were such a luxury item in Bethel! Of course, there's no Scharfen Berger chocolate...but there is some relatively fancy by Bush standards, Cadbury Dark Chocolate (possibly a substitution??).

Not that everything's cheaper here, by the way. I don't have any butter bragging rights (even more expensive than Bethel at 5 bucks per pack)! Alas. And I thought you might appreciate knowing that the store was entirely out of coconut milk and ginger yesterday. Some things change and some just stay the same.....