No judgment here if you want to have your dessert for breakfast or brunch, or your breakfast or brunch for dessert. This is a fast, homemade, sweet dish for your Valentine to make tomorrow or this week. Serve this classic sauce (or is it a topping? or maybe it’s a saucy topping…?) warm over waffles, crêpes, or ice cream.
Jump ahead to the recipe at the end if you wish, but first, I have to talk about crêpes. This was how we made and served bananas foster recently and I highly suggest trying it.
Crêpes always intimidated me, to be honest. I don’t know, the idea of making crêpes just always felt like a big hassle. Maybe you also feel the same way?
It didn’t help that the recipes that I previously tried, as well as any modifications that I tried to make on my own to create a recipe that worked well, either failed or simply just didn’t taste very good. If the batter is too thick, you get pancakes; too thin, and it burns or makes a mess. Also, several crêpe recipes make too many for serving 2-3 people. Really, what the hell am I going to do with a dozen crêpes? They’re delicious but after a couple, that’s plenty. They taste way better fresh, so freezing them, in my humble opinion, isn’t a good option.
This recipe was a game-changer: Dave and I have followed the recipe in The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen countless times since I got the book for my bridal shower in November 2021. It’s perfectly portioned for two people, making 4-5 generous-sized crêpes that you can roll, fold, top, or fill with whatever you want, and it’s hard to mess up. One of the tricks in the book that helped, too, is to preheat the pan with oil, letting it heat up for a good 10 minutes or so, before cooking. You hardly notice that the time passes, because you’re making the crêpe batter while the pan heats, so it’s very efficient.
I do highly recommend the book for very nice, portioned meals for two people, with many classics as well as new favorites, but on page 360 of the book is where you’ll find the recipe for Crêpes with Sugar and Lemon that I’m talking about. As prepared, this gives you a classic dessert (or sweet brunch or breakfast dish) if you follow the recipe through to the end. If you stop following the recipe after step 5, omitting both the sugar and lemon for serving in step 6, then you’re left with a basic, foolproof, plain stack of crêpes that can be either savory or sweet in the end. And, probably the best part: it won’t leave you with an abundance of leftovers.
Dave is the official crêpe-maker in our household, and by this point, he has this recipe down to a science. While I’m making the filling or topping that we’re going to serve with the crêpes, he takes care of the crêpe cooking, so we work as a team and it’s always successful.
This weekend was an exception from the savory norm: a sweet brunch for pre-Valentine’s Day. We usually make savory crêpes, filled and folded up with cooked mixed mushrooms or with ham and swiss or gruyere cheese, and topped with a creamy bechamel sauce that gets broiled in the oven. I’ll share that recipe sometime because it’s so decadent and a delicious weekend brunch that we love—and part of the reason we got hooked on crêpe making with this recipe in the first place.
Ok, enough talk about crêpes and back to the bananas. The brown sugar and water form a quick caramel sauce for the bananas and nuts, without no fuss over making a deep, dark caramel with white sugar, which makes this super easy. Rum, of course, adds flavor and even more saucy goodness. In the past, I’ve used different kinds of rum, whatever I had on hand, white rum or dark rum. You could try half rum and half banana liquor, for extra flavor, or stick with just rum. My favorite is gold or dark rum for this recipe, such as Mount Gay Eclipse.
After cooking, most of the alcohol does burn off, but not all of it. If you want to make an alcohol-free version of this, you can use rum extract or just add extra vanilla extract. To modify the recipe for this: omit the 3 tablespoons of rum and instead add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of extract to the recipe as written.
Banana-pecan is one of my favorite flavor combinations. As far as I’m concerned, banana bread just isn’t the same without pecans, and I enjoy both with oatmeal too. Just omit the pecans if you don’t have them or don’t want to use them, and you’ll still have a delicious dessert (or it can be breakfa- well, you know by now what I’m about to say…) for two.
As a bonus: if you do make crêpes, following the ATK recipe, which I seriously recommend, or whatever recipe you like to use, make your crêpes first, wipe out your pan if it’s dirty, and proceed to make this filling. Effectively, a one-pan recipe.
For breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Choose bananas that are ripe but not too soft and mushy for this recipe.
- 2 bananas
- ¼ cup whole raw pecans
- ⅓ cup brown sugar dark or light is fine
- 1 tablespoon water I measured this in ounces when I made the recipe, at 0.5 ounce, with a bar jigger but converted to tablespoons for this recipe. You can do whichever is easier for you.
- 3 tablespoons rum I used Mount Gay Eclipse the last time I made this recipe but have used other rums in the past, like Bacardi Gold. I also measured this in ounces using a bar jigger when I made the recipe, at 1.5 ounces.
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt If you don't have a ⅛ measuring spoon or don't want to bother measuring, just add a pinch.
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In advance: Toast almonds until golden and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes in a 350 °F oven or toaster oven, stirring at least once, and watching closely (careful not to burn them!) Set aside and let cool.
In a nonstick frying pan or skillet, add brown sugar and water, and stir. Warm over medium-low heat until sugar has absorbed water and starts to bubble, about 3-4 minutes.
Slice bananas, about ¼ inch thick, to get ready to add to the sauce with the toasted nuts.
Take the pan off the heat and add in vanilla, salt, cinnamon if using, and rum. Return pan to heat and reduce to low. Gently fold in bananas and nuts until coated with sauce.
Let cook another 2 minutes, then add butter.
Serve warm as a topping or filling for crêpes, over waffles, or over your favorite flavor of ice cream; vanilla or cinnamon ice cream would be nice, complementary flavors, but… peanut butter and chocolate ice cream? coffee ice cream? Go wild and pick something else, if you want.