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Banana Turnovers and My New Favorite Pastry Cream

November 15, 2011

With Thanksgiving just around the corner my mind is on food more than usual.  For the last 10 years, my husband and I have happily played host during the holiday.  I would be in charge of the turkey, traditional sides and a dessert or two while my family would take care of the rest.  Each year after feasting, a stuffed cousin, aunt or uncle, without fail, will comment about how much food is still leftover and why did we all make so much?  Even though everyone is sent home with containers full of leftovers, my husband and I would still be left with days and days worth of food in the refrigerator.  I am convinced that we all possess the I-only-know-how-to-cook-for-an-army gene.  This year will be different, however.  My youngest sister made a special request to take over hosting duties so we could celebrate Thanksgiving in her new home.  Not a problem at all, I said.

I happily agreed to relinquish my hostess duties this year for a very selfish reason:  I wanted to focus more on baking.  Yes, I still plan to roast a turkey for I look forward to one dish each year that is best when prepared with leftover turkey and turkey drippings.  And I may still prepare my Yam and Apple casserole since it is the only Thanksgiving dish my husband ever requests.  Oh, and we also celebrate a post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving with good friends and I’ve been assigned potatoes for that dinner.  Still, I anticipate having more time to focus on baking a few treats; it seems to be an obsession lately.

In order to whittle down my ever-growing list of “must makes”, I have decided to focus on my strongest sweet cravings (and of course requests from my family).  Three items top my list and I am determined to make them all this year for the first time.  I won’t share what the other two are just yet but one of my biggest cravings has been for a really good banana cream pie.  I’ve dreamed of digging into a smooth, silky pastry cream, sliced ripe bananas, just a hint of chocolate–all cradled by a buttery, flaky crust.  I was not in the market for a shortcut recipe but when I came across one that had the potential to satisfy craving one of three, I had to try it.

Frozen puff pastry is such a godsend for quick desserts.  The only prep necessary for this recipe was the pastry cream and that was easy.  In my pictures the cream looks lumpy but I assure you it wasn’t.  There were no egg or corn starch solids in there–the cream came straight out of the refrigerator and I transferred it (rather unceremoniously) into the other bowl so I could take my pictures in a hurry.  In fact, I’ve used other pastry cream recipes before but this has just become my new go-to for créme patissiére.  Don’t think I’m being pretentious for using the latter term, especially since the inspiration for these turnovers screams All-American.  I just recall my husband’s exclamation when he had his first taste…despite the fact that I used not-so-ripe bananas and that I didn’t add enough filling to the turnovers…These are just as good as anything I’ve tasted in any Paris bakery.  Sweet success.

* I still plan to make a real banana cream pie and I’m inspired to take this basic pastry cream recipe to new heights but I assure you, you will be happy eating these turnovers.

Banana Turnovers

* from The New York Times Dessert Cookbook (Serves 6)

  • 1 cup half-and half (I used fat-free and it was still very good)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Flour for dusting dough
  • 1 pound puff pastry dough, defrosted but cold2 large ripe bananas1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar.

1. In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half, 2 tablespoons sugar and the salt to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together cornstarch and remaining sugar. Add 2 yolks and stir until mixture is smooth.

3. Temper the egg yolk mixture by ladling about 1/4 cup simmering half-and-half into the bowl and whisk well to combine. Transfer mixture into simmering liquid, whisking vigorously. Allow pastry cream to bubble for 5 seconds, then remove pan from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Transfer to small bowl, cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

4. Unfold puff pastry dough on floured surface and dust with flour. Using a pizza cutter, divide dough evenly into six 5-inch squares; arrange squares on work surface with a point facing you.

5. Working quickly, peel bananas and cut into thirds. Slice each third lengthwise in two pieces. Place 1 tablespoon pastry cream in lower center of each dough square, 2 banana slices on top and dab with more cream. Brush dough edges lightly with water. Fold points of each square down to form triangular turnovers. Press edges of each with fork, and refrigerate on parchment-lined sheet pan for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place oven rack in lower position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

6. In small bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy; brush on turnovers. Sift confectioners’ sugar over surface of each. Bake until well-risen and deeply browned, about 40 minutes, turning sheet pan once halfway through. Serve warm with caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream or more pastry cream like I did.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. November 15, 2011 3:10 PM

    These sound wonderful! Banana cream pie is one of my favorite pies and I LOVE the idea of using puff pastry to make little ones. YUMMY!!

  2. November 15, 2011 3:18 PM

    I really need one of these right now! That new header is so darn cute. Happy Thanksgiving if I don’t get a chance later on it do it.

  3. November 15, 2011 3:51 PM

    I am in charge of something sweet this year to. And I plan to roast a Turkey “just cuz” too. I knew I liked you. GREG

  4. November 15, 2011 4:15 PM

    Oh man, these look so good. I love banana. What a great idea.

  5. November 15, 2011 4:51 PM

    This reminds me of a dessert I had at a trendy restaurant in Dallas recently, except the chef stuffed them with ganache and rose water or something.
    I love your turnovers, they look so flaky and creamy, in short, irresistible!!!!

  6. November 15, 2011 5:37 PM

    Hi Stranger! Hope all is well as you gear-up for Thanksgiving. I’ve been reading your posts via email but lazily have not left you any comments. I’m glad your hubby is doing well and that you are back cooking and blogging. We all need a break sometimes. 🙂 I was in your neck of the woods last week in N. Cal visiting friends. We were lucky to have great weather.

    Banana cream turnovers look so amazing! Wish I was your neighbor so you could drop off a few for me. LOL. Banana cream has never been a favorite of mine but over the last year I’ve really acquired a taste for it and quite enjoy it now. It’s my husband’s favorite flavor of pie! Cheers!

  7. November 15, 2011 5:49 PM

    PS – Love the new logo! So stylish. I think my blog needs a makeover… 🙂

  8. November 15, 2011 7:38 PM

    Ooooh so flaky and buttery looking and that cream looks finger licking good. YUM!

  9. November 15, 2011 7:48 PM

    What a great sweet…not a bad idea…mmm….

  10. November 15, 2011 10:06 PM

    It is like an Empanada only that the filling is banana and that it is sweet.

  11. November 15, 2011 10:33 PM

    Jean – I just got home from a work event and I am starving – then I pop onto your site and see these delightful gems of puff pastry goodness. Love the idea of banana and cream and puff pastry. I bet it is nice to have a brief time off from hosting yet I know you will bring a few wonderful tasty treats to the holiday. Hope to see you soon – we need to schedule a date! (PS – I am sure the hubbies might want to get a flight in together) 🙂

  12. November 16, 2011 12:53 AM

    The hubs would absolutely love these…. Should I be a good wife? Hmmmm?

  13. November 16, 2011 1:26 AM

    Fun! Happy baking then and enjoy the time off from being hostess!

  14. November 16, 2011 4:21 AM

    What a great idea to make a banana cream pie into these lovely turnovers, they look (and sound) so good!

  15. November 16, 2011 7:46 AM

    They look delicious! With that description I’ll have to try this pastry cream recipe. Yum 🙂

  16. November 16, 2011 8:06 AM

    Nevere imagined a banana filling. They look ridiculously good!! Enjoy time off from hosting 🙂

  17. November 16, 2011 8:15 AM

    These are definitely a keeper! I love bananas so much and love that you used them as a filling for the turnovers! YUM!

  18. November 16, 2011 8:25 AM

    I love banana anything but get sick of the usual breads, muffins, etc. Would be nice to give something else a try!

  19. November 16, 2011 8:34 AM

    This sounds delicious, bananas and cream in puff pastry? Yes please!

  20. November 16, 2011 10:29 AM

    Alright, my oatmeal right now is looking rather sorry as I drool over my computer. These look SO good right now! What a wonderful idea 🙂

  21. November 16, 2011 10:41 AM

    My daughter loves all things banana, we’ve not tried them in turnovers though. I can only imagine how much she would love these!

  22. November 16, 2011 11:47 AM

    Those banana turnovers look lovely; the golden color on them is gorgeous. I’ve been experimenting with empanadas — all savory — but will eventually venture into the world of sweet. Maybe banana fillings will be first! 🙂 I like your new header, BTW. Super cute!

  23. November 16, 2011 11:51 AM

    I’m so happy to see puff pastry recipe. You know that’s like my only dessert I can make with my current baking skills. I love this recipe. Having kids, bananas are always in the house and of course puff pastry. I have to make this! I actually never thought of putting banana in the puff pastry so I am very happy right now and can’t wait to try. Love your food styling as always. 🙂

  24. November 17, 2011 10:22 AM

    You had me at banana, these look absolutely wonderful!

  25. November 18, 2011 10:00 PM

    Can you come and make these for me? They are the best dessert I’ve seen all month! Just beautiful. And I love your header, by the way. Your whole blog just makes me smile. Thank you for sharing another great post, my friend. Much love from Austin. Have a great weekend!

  26. November 22, 2011 3:47 AM

    I love the idea of a “deconstructed” banana cream pie! These turnovers are the perfect on-the-go snack =)

  27. December 7, 2011 10:29 AM

    Yum, these remind me of my fave Asian-style dessert – Fried Bananas!!!

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