Sunday, December 8, 2013

Caramel & Banana Napoleon

I'm not sure what possessed me to make this dessert, but I saw bananas in our fruit bowl and suddenly had a craving for some kind of dessert with banana. I don't even like banana much. It's probably my least favorite fruit. I certainly never pick up a banana, peel it, and eat it for breakfast. I suppose I can like anything if I turn it into a dessert… maybe I should try it with mushrooms (my least favorite vegetable). So even if you don't like bananas, try this light, simple, and delicious caramel & banana napoleon. It's layered with flaky puffed pastry, luscious vanilla pudding, bananas, and caramel.

Caramel & Banana Napoleon
2 bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 box vanilla instant pudding
2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed*
1/2 cup caramel sauce**
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash

* You'll find puff pastry in a box in the freezer section of your local market. Near the desserts and frozen pie crusts.
** You can use store-bought caramel sauce or make some at home. It's really not that hard… combine 1/4 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering until it turns a deep amber color. Slowly add the cream and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll one sheet of puff pastry (there are usually two in a box) on the parchment paper. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the pastry in thirds along the fold lines and then in thirds again, creating 9 squares. Separate the squares and brush with egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.


While your pastry is baking, make the pudding and whipped cream…
Using an electric mixer, combine milk and pudding mix in a large bowl. Beat for about 3 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken. Set aside (or store in the refrigerator if not assembling the napoleons right away).

In another bowl, combine the whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat with the electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate if not using right away.

Allow the pastry squares to cool. They should puff up into flaky layers. Carefully separate each square into two pieces. Place a "bottom" on each plate, top each bottom with a layer of caramel, then some sliced bananas, a layer of pudding, a second layer of bananas, and a drizzle of caramel. Top with the "top" piece of each pastry square. Add a dollop of whipped cream next to each napoleon, dust with powdered sugar, and add another drizzle of caramel.

Delicious, right?! Enjoy!

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