frozen baby bananas

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What a monumental week. And what an amazing time to be in San Francisco. It was pretty magical going into the Castro on Wednesday night to celebrate the Supreme Court rulings. The energy was incredible and you could literally feel the love and happiness and excitement all around. And to top it off, we are having some crazy gorgeous weather at the moment, and when it’s warm in San Francisco, it is G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S. I can’t wait to celebrate Pride with my boys this weekend. I have a feeling it’s going to be big.

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And then there’s these frozen bananas. These are totally my jam right now. It started with a visit to one of the local ice cream parlors. I had an afternoon ice cream date with the girls and all of their rugrats a few months back. While all of the adults had ice cream, the kids and I had ourselves some chocolate covered frozen bananas. And we were into it.

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But it got me into the crazy habit of making myself a faux banana split almost every night for two weeks. My faux split is basically just a banana split without the ice cream, but it was getting me into some trouble. All of that homemade ganache and whipped cream and toasted almonds on top was helping the pounds creep on. So I had to kick that habit.

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I still liked the idea of bananas and chocolate for dessert. And then I realized that I should just make frozen bananas. A frozen banana is the perfect treat when you want something cold and sweet but not super indulgent.It’s essentially the same as the faux banana split, minus the whipped cream and the richness of ganache. And if you use little baby bananas (commonly found in Asian produce markets), you’ve got yourself the perfect miniature serving size. It’s exactly what you want after a big meal or when you’re just kicking it on the stoop with your homies. Hooray for summer.

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frozen baby bananas

adapted from Martha Stewart 

makes 8 servings

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate or a combo of the two, chopped

popsicle sticks or wooden skewers

8 baby bananas, peeled,  or 4 regular bananas, peeled and cut in half crosswise

2/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted nuts (I used almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and pecans)  or sprinkles

flaky sea salt (optional)

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir just until melted.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently insert a popsicle stick in one end of each banana. Dip banana in chocolate, spooning on additional chocolate to cover.

Sprinkle banana with nuts and a little sea salt and set on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas. Freeze until chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes, or up to 7 days.

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cherry hand pies

Do yourself a favor this weekend. Pick up a couple pounds of cherries from the market. Don’t wait – cherry season is pretty much over. And buy or borrow a cherry pitter. We’re making pie.

I always panic towards the end of cherry season. So this year, I decided to can a few pounds of cherries for later use (yes, I’m hoarding cherries). I also had a real hankering for cherry pie.

I’d never actually made a cherry pie. But I’ve come to understand that real cherry pie is made with sour cherries, which are pretty hard to come by in these parts as this is the land of sweet cherries. A sweet cherry pie sounded just fine to me. When I was growing up, my dad used to come home with bags of super sweet Bing cherries. It was one of my favorite summertime treats. It still is.

Speaking of childhood, does anyone else remember Home Run Pies? You know, those individually packaged pies that came in flavors like lemon and cherry and apple and chocolate pudding? They were really popular in the 80’s. I can’t even remember the last time I had one, but I do remember that as an adult, I wasn’t so impressed. Reminiscing about retro junk food made me want a grown-up version of Home Run Pie.

So I made my favorite all-butter pie crust, divided and rolled out eight discs of dough, and loaded them up with sweet cherry filling. Made little cutouts with the scraps. Egg washed and sprinkled with turbinado. Baked until each pie was golden and bubbling. Picked up a still warm pie and ate the whole thing in minutes. And there you go.

cherry hand pies

serves 8

basic pie dough 

from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

makes 2 10-ounce balls of dough; 1 double-crust 9-inch pie, 2 11-inch tarts

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup ice cold water

1 large egg

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a fork. Add the butter and work into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips, leaving some of the butter in fairly large, irregular pieces.

Pour in three quarters of the water, stirring all the while with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps and hold together. Keep adding water if needed.

Divide the dough into eight pieces (a food scale is helpful here), rolling each piece into a ball, and then flatten into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic. Let rest, refrigerated for 1 hour or longer.

cherry filling

adapted from The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss

1-1/4 pounds fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Put the cherries, sugar, tapioca starch, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently but gently and scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula to prevent sticking as the liquid comes to a low boil. After about 8 minutes, the cherries should have given off juice and thickened and cherries should still be whole. Let cool. Refrigerate until cold.

to assemble:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Remove dough from fridge right before assembling. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out each disk of dough until about 1/8-inch thick.

Place a heaping tablespoon of the cherry filling onto one half of the circle of dough. Fold the other side of the dough over the filling and press the tines of a fork into the dough to seal the edges together. For a neater looking pie, trim the edges with a pizza cutter or pairing knife. Make a small cut on top of the pie to make a vent. Repeat with the remaining discs of dough. Place the pies on the prepared baking sheets.

Collect any extra scraps of dough and roll out until about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out shapes using a small cookie cutter. With a pairing knife, lightly score the back of each cut-out. Set aside.

Whisk the egg with a little bit of water. Brush the back of each cut-out with egg wash and place on pie. Lightly brush the top of each pie with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and pies are golden brown. Let cool for 15 minutes and serve warm.