Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Overripe Banana Souffles

Sometimes my kitchen has a glut of bananas. I can only eat so many each week, you know. Of course, I freeze them, add them to my cereal and make banana bread. As much as I love banana bread, sometimes I actually want to put my overripe bananas to some other use. I know that other people have similar issues.
Fortunately, I learned an easy way to use up a few bananas when I took a class a while back (not affiliated with my baking class). The class, if you'll recall, was about making souffles. The instructor named this as a low fat souffle, but I think she included it to reinforce just how easy it is to make a souffle.
For these, a mashed up banana provides the majority of the base - no cooking necessary! It is thickened with a bit of cornstarch, flavoring is added and then egg whites beaten with sugar are folded in. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes, including the time to grease and sugar your ramekins. The taste is light and airy, with a nice banana-y richness. Once you've made the basic recipe, you can easily add other flavors or spices for variety. In the photo above, you can see ginger (with crystalised ginger), molasses and buttermilk, honey and chocolate (with mini chocolate chips) banana souffles.
The chocolate souffles are very chocolatey. I make these often because they're so easy and light. And because I have bananas. Lots of them.

Chocolate Banana Souffles
2 bananas
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
2 egg whites
2 tbsp sugar
Preheat over to 400F.
Coat 6, 6-oz ramekins with butter and sugar. Place on a baking sheet.
Mash bananas and vanilla together. Sift cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt over bananas and stir well. Beat egg whites with sugar until they form soft peaks. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into banana mixture. When incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites - you can fold in some mini chocolate chips at this point, if you'd like. Spoon mixture into ramekins.
Run your finger around the top 1/4 inch "collar" of the ramekin, removing any batter, sugar or butter, so that the souffle will rise straight and place baking sheet in the oven. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.
Serve immediately.