Banana + Praline Mousse Terrine
So wow. After an intense six months, I have finished the L'Art de la Patisserie program at the French Pastry School here in Chicago. What an incredible experience. I have seen my own confidence and skill grow, as well as all of my classmates. Like, seriously. What an honor it was to work with such talented and passionate aspiring chefs. There's nothing like being in a room with people who share your passion to the obsessive degree that you do. Just. Such a good time.
AND the good time doesn't end yet - I will be continuing my studies at the French Pastry School as an intern for the next six months. (!!!)
And thanks to all this fantastic learning, the latest home project: essentially a tricked-out banana bread (pretend this is 2005 - the last time the phrase "tricked out" was still relevant). It has an exterior layer of banana bread filled with a nutty, cheesecake-like mousse filling with candied almonds and pecans. With some cream cheese frosting on top. Comfort food, French-style. And in a terrine mold?! Come on y'all. So cute.
Banana + Praline Mousse Terrine
Use your favorite recipe for banana bread - I love this one from Suburban Soapbox
1) Pour batter into a greased and floured terrine mold (I used this one), filling about 3/4 full. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool about 10-15 minutes before unmolding.
2) Freeze for 1 hour. Then to slice: take a serrated knife and cut 1/3-inch slices off the top, bottom, and sides of loaf. Eat the center. Return 4 outside slices of loaf to the freezer.
Almond and Pecan Praline Paste
Adapted from 'The Art of French Pastry', by Jacquy Pfieffer
3 tablespoons water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups roughly chopped almonds and pecans (use whatever ratio of the two you'd like)
1) Bring the water and granulated sugar to a boil and continue to boil for 1 minute. Turn off the heat. You should have a clear, completely dissolved syrup in the pan.
2) Warm up your nuts in the microwave, about 1 minute, and then add to sugar syrup. Stir until syrup crystallizes and turns white around the nuts. Turn the heat back on to a medium-low heat and continue to stir until the sugar begins to melt again. Continue to cook (and stir!) until you see the sugar begin to caramelize around the nuts. When you reach a medium gold color, turn off the heat and pour out onto a silpat or baking sheet. Let cool.
3) Reserve about 1/3 of the caramelized nuts for the center of the terrine (chop up a little finer, then set aside). Place the rest in a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms, 3-4 minutes. It will remain a little grainy, but that'll do.
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup almond and pecan praline paste (recipe above)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1) Whip heavy whipping cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside.
2) Cream together the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla, praline paste, and 2 tablespoons sugar - until homogenous. Gently fold in whipped cream. Place in a piping bag with a larger round tip. Or no tip at all, just cut a medium sized hole from the tip of the bag.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or more, to taste)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1) Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla. Add sifted powdered sugar gradually, in about 4 additions. Spread into a 1/4 inch smooth layer the length of your terrine mold on a silpat mat (or on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet). Freeze. Once frozen, slice into a rectangle the length and width of the top of your loaf. Store in freezer until ready to assemble cake.
10-12 whole almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1) Toast almonds in 350F degree oven about 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Cool. Place a toothpick in the base of each almond.
2) In a small pan over medium heat, gradually melt sugar by adding 2-3 tablespoons of sugar into pan at a time - waiting for the first addition to melt a little before adding the next few tablespoons. Cook until you have a medium-gold color. Take off heat a let cool about 1 minute before dipping each almond in the caramel, letting a thin line of caramel form from excess dripping from the tip. Place each toothpick in a piece of styrofoam upside down while the caramel cools.
1) Line the same (cleaned) terrine mold you used to baked the banana bread with plastic wrap. Place 3 slices of the banana bread into the mold - the top and side slices you cut earlier.
1) Pipe half of your mousse into the bread-lined mold (it should be about half full). Sprinkle with the reserved praline nuts. Pipe the other half of the mousse into the mold and top with the final slice of banana bread. Wrap well and freeze for about at least an hour or overnight.
2) Unmold the terrine. Top with the frozen rectangular sheet of frosting (should be firm, but still a little pliable). Top with caramelized almonds. Eat.