Monday, March 9, 2009

Kitchen Confidential

No, I didn't burn the beans again (and as a matter of fact, I successfully cooked cannellini beans for a soup last week, so dried beans and I are currently on friendly terms). But I am wondering - can puddings, once thickened, actually revert back to liquid? And is it possible to overbeat the sugar and eggs for a genoise cake? Today's attempts at dessert making seem to indicate that the answer to these questions is "yes" and "yes". Let's examine this further...

Our friends Doug and Leena, along with their two little kiddlywinks, were coming over for dinner, and I was inspired by a menu in this month's issue of Gourmet to whip up a little Sunday chicken dinner with bourbon banana pudding with glazed pecans for dessert. And really, doesn't that sound fabulous? Who wouldn't want bourbon banana pudding for dessert? The kiddlywinks loved it. You can find the recipe online at

But back to the making of the dessert: I whisked together a mixture of brown sugar, cornstarch, and milk on the stove, bringing it to a boil and creating a lovely, glossy, thick pudding which I incorporated gently with some egg yolks and bourbon. Into the fridge it went to set. A few hours later I pulled out the bowl in high anticipation of scooping out delectable, pillowy spoonfuls of rich pudding soft enough to almost melt on the spoon but still solid enough form lazy ripples over a mound of sponge cake, bananas, and praline. If you need a moment to pause and savor that image, go ahead. I understand completely.

But instead what I found was pudding that had melted to the consistency of milk. Was this because I had used 1% instead of whole milk? What went wrong? It had looked so promising. I managed to salvage the pudding by adding some gelatin, but unfortunately by the time we were ready to eat it was still far from the pudding stage, although at least it had moved on to the creamy sauce stage, and no longer seemed like something that should be served in a glass with a straw.

As for the genoise, I read in Gourmet that it is absolutely essential that you beat your egg batter until the falling batter forms a wide ribbon that holds it's shape when you lift the beater over the bowl. After not quite ten minutes, my batter appeared to be getting close. According to the instructions, that meant to keep beating. So keep beating I did (gotta love those Kitchenaid mixers!).

And I kept beating. And beating. And - hey, if anything it looked less ribbony than 20 minutes ago! What was going on here? I gave up; I folded the egg mixture with the flour and baked my cake. It may have turned out a little flat, but it still tasted fine. But did this come about because I forgot to run the whole eggs under warm water before cracking them open, as the magazine had also suggested? Or did someone out there just not want me to make banana bourbon pudding today?

Well, regardless of the cosmic view of my pudding attempt, it turned out surprisingly well. Poured over cake, bananas, and candied pecans, the non-pudding still worked, and the genoise still soaked in the goodness of the bourbon glaze and the runny pudding sauce. And as I said before, the kids were quite taken with it (as, truth be told, was I). I guess you really can't go wrong with banana bourbon pudding with glazed pecans.

1 comment:

Leena said...

Dinner and dessert was delish as always. So good to get together with you two again! :)