Sometimes the best ideas come from the letters that I get from people who want me to rethink a recipe that they’ve seen me make on The Chew. Most of the time, it’s because there’s a food allergy involved, but a recent request from Mary about my Brownie Crackers recipe was a little different. She wrote, “Do you have a suggestion for a recipe for “Blondie” Crackers? I have a young nephew that does not like chocolate (Can you believe it?). I can’t figure out what to substitute for the cocoa powder.”
Okay, so I can’t really imagine not liking chocolate — lol! — but I do like a challenge. My first thought was to replace the semi-sweet chocolate with white chocolate, but the trick was what to do about the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder serves the function in the Brownie Crackers of helping to absorb the wet ingredients, so just omitting it can result in a looser batter, and I wondered if the overall flavor would just be too sweet.
That’s when freeze-dried bananas came to the rescue! I’m talking about crunchy banana chips, not chewy dried bananas — you want the freeze-dried bananas for this. By grinding them to a powder, they became a perfect substitute for cocoa powder, adding a whole new layer of flavor, and the batter developed a rich caramel quality while baking. Combined with the white chocolate, the texture is a little chewier than the original Brownie Cracker recipe, which is why I’ve decided to call them tuiles instead of crackers. I’m not kidding when I say that these Banana Caramel Tuiles are seriously addictive, so thanks to Mary for the challenge!
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup freeze dried bananas (you want a yield of 1/4 cup total when ground)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Flaky sea salt (for garnish)
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Make the freeze-dried banana powder by putting the bananas into a spice or coffee grinder (a food processor will work as well) and processing until finely ground. If necessary, grind more of the freeze-dried bananas to make sure that you have 1/4 cup of the powder.
Place one inch of water in a small saucepan and place over medium heat until simmering. Add the butter, white chocolate, sugar, and vanilla to a heatproof bowl, then place on top of the simmering water and melt, stirring until smooth. Remove and let cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes, then mix in egg whites until smooth.
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, freeze-dried banana powder powder, spices, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir until well-blended. Pour batter onto the prepared baking sheet and spread to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the batter is golden brown and bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then tear into smaller pieces, about two or three inches in size. You can enjoy the tuiles right away, but they will develop a more crispy-chewy texture if refrigerated in a single layer for a couple of hours.
Can be stored, in the refrigerator for best texture, for one to two weeks.
Variation: Try substituting other freeze-dried fruit like raspberries, pineapple, or blueberries and let me know how it turns out!
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