You know when you have an idea in your head, and it’s pretty much going to be the greatest thing ever, and then you do it, and then…your idea comes out ugly (or at least, definitely not how you envisioned it)?
Well, these banana split petits fours are the pretty much the embodiment of the above scenario. But they are damn good.
I suppose they’re not the worst thing in the world, but when I thought this idea up in my head, here is what I envisioned: three dense, gorgeous layers of cake with a delightful medley of traditional banana split toppings in between, topped with a fancy dollop of whipping cream and garnished with a crispy, glazed banana chip. That’s what I thought I was going to get. Instead, I got…these. They’re homely. They look *slightly* unappetizing. But trust me, this is a recipe worth making AND I can tell you how not to make your version ugly! Or as ugly. I hope.
Here’s what you will need:
- 1 qt of crushed pineapple
- 1/2# fresh strawberries, diced OR about 1/2 c. strawberry jam
- 1 small pkg. chocolate fudge pudding prepared with 1 3/4 c. milk (to make it extra thick)
- 4 T. cornstarch
- 1 recipe for a white cake (if you want thin layers like mine) OR double the recipe for a thicker cake layer
- Reddi-Whip or whipping cream or whatever floats your boat
- Banana chips for garnish
Seriously simple, right? First, place the strawberries in a bowl with 2 T. sugar and let it sit for awhile, like you would with rhubarb. Leave it on the counter for about 15 minutes or until you get a nice sugary syrup in the bottom of your bowl.
Next, put the crushed pineapple in a medium saucepan. Put the strawberries in a separate saucepan and add 1/2 c. water. Turn both to medium heat. While the fruit mixtures are heating, take a potato masher and mash up both fruits a little more. You’re really going for a jam-like consistency here.
Once the mixtures are warmed up a bit (but not boiling), take out 2 T. of liquid from each pot and pour into a separate bowl. Whisk 2 T. cornstarch into each bowl and mix well. When you think you’re done mixing, mix a little bit more. Then, pour the cornstarch mixture back into its respective pot and stir frequently. At first, your fruit mixes will look creamy and gross. Once the cornstarch has fully incorporated though, your mixture will be clear and gooey. At this juncture, it is perfectly acceptable to throw a boatload of food coloring into each mixture (vibrant colors were also a part of my vision).
As the mixture cools, it will gel up even more, and you want a really thick filling, so don’t worry. There’s no such thing as too thick for this recipe. While the fillings cool, start baking your cakes. The recipe I used was for a butter cake, which I think is like a normal cake. Use a box mix, I don’t care. We just didn’t have any in the house. After the taste test, the hub-dubs suggested using angel food cake. I think pound cake would be really good with this and give it that thick, dense look I was going for. I The only thing I would be really adamant about would be white cake, not yellow. You may want to throw an extra splash of vanilla into your batter to make it seem more like vanilla ice cream. Bake in an 8×8 square pan according to recipe directions.
Let your cakes cool completely. If you use one recipe (or box), carefully cut the layers in half (like, separate the top half and the bottom half). If you decide to use double the cake, you can start right in on the layering. First, lay the first later on a baking sheet or clean surface or whatever. Then, top with the strawberry mixture (also completely cooled):
See those crumbs on top? I did not “carefully cut.” I sort of haphazardly cut. See where it got me?
Anyway, put another layer of cake over the strawberries. I think the strawberry layer was almost too think, or I did not adequately dice/cut the strawberries enough. If you spread your filling and only have a little bit leftover, save it for something else (like your reward for all your hard work)–this is best underfilled than overfilled.
Next, layer the chocolate pudding over the second layer of the cake. With this and all other fillings, leave a little room on the edges of the cake–as the fillings and layers get piled on, the filling will spread to those areas.
Put another layer of cake, then top with pineapple.
Finally, top with the last layer of cake. Put the ‘finished side’ of the cake up–when you pulled it out of the oven, this will be the side you saw. Make sense? Hope so.
Cut off the sides, where the edges are uneven and the filling didn’t quite make it to. Then, with a sharp knife and wiping clean in between every one or two cuts, cut into 12-16 pieces. I struggled with come of my pieces wanting to fall over, but it was all ok in the end.
Transfer to a serving platter, throw a gob of whipped cream on top and very artistically, place a banana chip on top.
Trust me, this process sounds a lot more complicated than it really it. Besides, even if it wasn’t, these would be worth it, right?
Who doesn’t love a beer with their banana split?
If the idea of petits fours freaks you out, here are some alternatives that will make your dessert pretty and still delicious:
- Use two cake recipes (or boxes). I really think this would solve a lot of problems. Partially freezing the cake and covering it with filling, then partially freezing that (and so on) may help too.
- Once you cut your cake layers, wash one of the pans and fit your layers back into the pan, alternating with the filling. Top the while thing with whipped cream and banana chips. No one will ever see the uglies and they’ll be really excited when they find out it’s not just a banana cake.
- Bust out your trifle bowl and make a trifle. If you’ve never made a trifle before, they’re wicked easy: tear up the cake into chunks, layer one filling, then whipped cream, then cake, then filling, then whipped cream…you get it. Top with whipped cream and banana chips. Heck, throw some chopped peanuts on there too. Go crazy.
You could, of course, simply ignore the homeliness and focus on the taste. It rocks.