Today we have an entrant for the second course of the Diced! competition. Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for a dessert containing the following ingredients: Bananas, Brown Sugar and Coffee (beans, grinds or liquid). They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. After the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.
Due to the generosity of the following companies, we have some really awesome products as a prize to the winner of this Diced! competition. In addition to the prizes below, I am working to secure additional ones. The winner will receive:
- Mr Bar-B-Q 20 Piece Gourmet Tool Set
- The following products from Talisman Designs
- Dodo Book for Cooks - This is a great book for anyone in the kitchen. It has places to put your favorite recipes as well as handy conversion charts.
- Zak Serveware Gift Set
Today’s contestant, Emily, when she is not watching bad reality TV or going out on even worse dates, she is the proprietor of Dinner is Served 1972, a blog dedicated to the culinary horrors of the American mid-century kitchen (this means lots of unflavored gelatin and a good deal of variety meats). She lives in Baltimore with a giant cat named Brian.
Hawaiian Coffee Jelly Parfaits
First off, I want to say how excited I am to have made it through to the third and final round of Diced! This has been such a blast. So I want to thank all of my loyal readers and Facebook fans from Dinner is Served 1972 (hi, kittens!) and anyone else who may have just happened to vote for my fish dish. You’re all really swell!
But I have to admit that I kinda cheated a little bit to get through to this round; I made a deal with my regulars and promised that if they got me through to the dessert that I would incorporate (your favorite ingredient, and mine!) JELL-O.
Well, I can’t go back on a promise, so bring on the jiggly!
The three ingredients for this challenge were coffee, bananas and brown sugar. That’s a little tropical, no? Well, lucky for me one of my college besties, Ahnya, sent me a “Box o’ Hawaii “for Christmas, which included some Hawaiian Kona Coffee and Hula Girl Hawaiian Cane Sugar.
So then I had Hawaii on the brain. I did a little research and found out that there is a traditional Hawaiian dessert called Haupia, which is a coconut milk dessert that has the same consistency as gelatin. Perfect! It looked like I was taking a trip to the islands of the Pacific.
Get in the mood and listen to the dulcet tones of the Hawaiian steel guitar as you read:
So my first thought was to do a coffee jelly. It’s a very popular dessert in Japan (and also New England–go figure!). I found a recipe for coffee-flavored gelatin in my 1981 copy of The Joys of Jell-O. It was included in the recipe for Topaz Parfait.
I was a little skeptical about mixing coffee with lemon Jell-O, but overall I liked how that sounded. And parfaits are pretty. So I ran with it.
I don’t drink coffee (it gives me horrible heartburn), so I didn’t have a coffee-making apparatus in my kitchen. I had to get a loaner from my girl, Iris—this lovely French press:
I also mixed in some of the Hula Girl Cane Sugar into the 1/4 cup white sugar. Can you tell that it’s a lovely light, amber color?
This is what the coffee jelly ended up looking like:
But what about the other parfait layers? I wanted to go with a variety of textures, so I thought that I would use crushed banana chips as one of the layers. To make sure that the use of banana chips was legal, I asked our host, The Ranting Chef. The verdict was that if I wanted to use banana chips, I’d have to make my own. Well, that’s what I did.
I looked at this article “5 Ways to Make Banana Chips” as a primer.
They actually crisped! But I wanted them to be sweet, so I dipped them into a mixture of 3/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup dark rum, 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Once dipped, I sat them out to dry.
But they never dried. Even overnight. They. Didn’t. Dry.
So the next day I put them into a 200 degree oven to dry out. That finally did the trick. However, I have to call them candied because they didn’t get super-hard like a commercially made banana chip. These had a hard exterior, but a chewy center–much like a piece of candied fruit peel. This wasn’t at all a bad thing, just not what I expected.
Finally, the whipped cream layer. I was going to make some fresh with my KitchenAid, but after all the work I did with the banana chips, I was tired. So I went the Cool Whip route.
To one container of Cool Whip I added: 1 tbsp dark rum, 2 tbsp brown sugar, and 2/3 cup shredded coconut. With those ingredients we’re a hop, a skip and a jump from something that would be served in a pineapple.
So I layered the cubes of coffee jelly, chopped candied banana chips, and the Cool Whip mix. And topped it all off with a couple banana chips.
Here is the finished product:
This is some of my better food photography (it should be; I spent an hour working with lighting and different tchotchkes). I love how the Jell-O is illuminated a bit. Do ya like the tiki dude? That’s a bottle opener that my Pap Pap bought at a Polynesian restaurant during a trip to Florida in the 1960s. How cool is that? I wish that there were more Polynesian/Hawaiian/Tiki-themed restaurants still around like Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s. I mean, look at this:
That’s from the now defunct Leialoha which was right here in Baltimore. That’s a helluva good time right there!
But anyhoo, not only was the parfait was nice to look at, and it was tasty! It really did have a Hawaiian flair. And I liked that it wasn’t just Jell-O and Cool Whip. I mean, you can have that anytime. The coconut and banana chips gave it a little sumthin-sumthinn. It made it a little fancy. So, overall the Hawaiian Coffee Jelly Parfaits were a WIN.
But I am still a little surprised: who knew that congealed coffee could be considered a treat?
Thanks for reading, everyone! This has been tons o’ fun. As they say in Hawaii, “a hui kaua” or, until we meet again!