Red Bananas Foster with Marshmallow and Spice Cake


First off, this is not a recipe for traditional Bananas Foster, but it shares some of the same elements and was inspired by the original. The true Bananas Foster was invented in New Orleans at Brennan’s Restaurant in the 1950s. It was named for a regular patron, Richard Foster, whom one would have to assume was quite fond of the preparation. The original dish was (and still is) prepared tableside by the waiter or captain and is most often made for two or more persons. Directions to make the classic version follow this recipe. I added gingerbread spice cake to my banana creation both for contrasting texture and flavor and to reflect the spiciness of New Orleans cuisine. This presentation is also plated in the kitchen, as few restaurants today are able to offer tableside service. The red bananas are a good choice because they are smaller than yellow bananas and fit the plate better, the color is pleasing, and they add an unusual touch; the more common type could certainly be substituted. The color of the flesh of a red banana is actually a deeper yellow than that of a yellow banana. The red and yellow classifications refer to the skin rather than the flesh.

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  1. Make the gingerbread cake batter and spread it out evenly within a quarter-sheet pan, 12 × 8 inches (30 × 20 cm), lined with baking paper. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Allow the cake to cool completely. If time permits, wrap well after cooling and let the cake sit overnight.
  2. Combine the rum and the cake syrup. Unmold the cake and trim both long edges. Cut in half lengthwise to make 2 strips, 4 inches (10 cm) wide. Brush the cake syrup over the strips, then cut each into 2¼-inch (5.6-cm) wedges. Cover the cake wedges and reserve.
  3. Pour the rum decorating syrup into a piping bottle and reserve.
  4. Presentation: Place a wedge of spice cake on the left side of a dessert plate with the wide end in back. Peel a banana and cut in half lengthwise. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the cut side of one half. Use a torch to caramelize the sugar on the banana and also to toast the top and sides of one of the marshmallow squares. Place the marshmallow on the plate next to the wide end of the spice cake. Top the cake with a scoop of ice cream. Make a small slit in the ice cream using a paring knife and insert a red pepper sail decoration arranging it so it stands straight up. Lean the caramelized banana half at an angle on the cake and the marshmallow. Pipe rum syrup in an irregular curved design on the plate around half of the dessert and serve immediately.