I am usually intimidated by baking and I owe it to my mother. She couldn’t bake anything edible to save her life. Her sister gave her one-on-one baking lessons many times, but with no success. I remember the last time my poor aunt Lucia tried to make a baker out of my mom. The choice was a pound cake, because you can’t mess that one up. Mom and aunt were working side by side each on their own cake. Mom followed my aunt’s every step: eggs into a bowl; beat the darn eggs; add sugar; beat some more and so on exactly to a T. They put their cakes into the oven at the same time. We sat quietly on the sofa waiting for mom’s first cake, already so proud of her like she was the next in line for coronation. Finally the cakes came out of the oven. One was looking suspiciously flat. While aunt’s cake turned out just as it should, moist and soft, mom’s was dense and dry. Aunt Lucia threw her hands in the air, her apron on the floor and concluded that mom was cursed never to be a baker. This event and all the cake-less Sundays of my childhood left a big impact. I am scared of baking. But I am competitive and a daredevil. Dare me something and watch me do it.
Making these is a piece of cake (or 4 in this instance) and if I can do it, anyone can. Except my mom – her curse has never been removed.
2 Bananas3 Egg Whites
¾ cup Brown Sugar, packed
¼ cup Granulated Sugar
1 stick Butter, divided
½ cup Water
2/3 cup all-purpose Flour
1 cup Walnuts, ground (or finely chopped)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Over medium heat stir and simmer 2 tablespoons butter, brown sugar and water in a small pan until bubbly and the mixture thickens slightly, about 10-12 minutes. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and walnuts. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites, vanilla and sugar for about 5 minutes, but don’t over-work it. I didn’t even bother using my mixer. A whisk worked just fine. Add the dry ingredients and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Mix to combine.
Lightly grease 4 ramekins. Cut bananas in half and then cut each half lengthwise once or twice (there is really no rule on this). Distribute banana pieces evenly among ramekins. It is ok if they go up the side of the ramekins. Pour caramelized brown sugar over bananas.
Top with batter. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet in case the caramel oozes out and bake in preheated oven on 355 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown in color. The reason I never give you exact cooking or baking time is because each oven varies and each dish used for cooking is different. If you are an experienced cook, you already know this and if you are not so comfortable in the kitchen, just keep an eye on your dish and you can’t go wrong.
Let the cakes cool just a bit before serving. Turn the cakes over on a plate and sprinkle with cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate curls, whipped cream or even better – vanilla ice cream. For the “or not” version serve the cakes straight from the ramekins. For a nice presentation use oven-proof tea cups instead. Garnish as desired.