Creative plating goes a long way with these desserts
The end of summer is fast approaching and, if you’re like most people this year, you’re probably feeling like there was no summer at all — just a string of hot days spent hanging out around your house. No vacation. No outings with friends and family. No pool parties.
The one summer staple that didn’t disappoint this year was ice cream. Whether homemade or from your favorite local stand (or heck, even from the grocery store), ice cream was here for us.
Because we owe ice cream a debt of gratitude, we decided to pay tribute to the granddaddy of all ice cream concoctions: the banana split. We reached out to our favorite personal chef, Meg Oliver, to see what she could do with the venerable ice cream treat.
She did not disappoint.
“I feel like, particularly now, it’s more important than ever to find joy in the things we maybe overlooked, took for granted, and/or placed little importance on before the world blew up in all of our faces,” the Washington, D.C.-based chef said.
Oliver definitely found the joy (and creativity), making seven variations on a classic banana split that are almost too beautiful to eat. Seriously, these things are works of art.
“To be honest, I didn’t have a set plan in my head for how each dish should be plated, but I knew the method would be very natural,” Oliver said about her creations. Recalling one particular occasion several years ago, while working for treasured mentor and friend Chef Ramir DeCastro, Oliver notes “I was plating a dessert and my hand slipped, causing me to drop a component in an unintended spot on the plate. When I went to reposition it, Chef smiled and said ‘maybe that’s where it wanted to land?’”
Looking at these, you may think the average home cook would struggle to recreate what Oliver did here, but she kept the ingredients approachable (some are even store bought), so don’t be intimidated by the designs. In fact, Oliver hopes they will spark your own creativity. After all, creative thinking in these unprecedented times can help us get through it all a little more smoothly and a bit more happily.
Here are 7 gorgeous takes on the humble banana split. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.
1. The Mint Eastwood
“I wanted to do a simpler, stripped down version with a refreshing twist because the traditional banana split is so heavy and has so much going on,” Oliver said.
This dessert consists of miniature mint ice cream sandwiched between fudge cookies, miniature mint sprigs, fresh banana slices, caramel sauce, chocolate mint malt balls, and vanilla bean whipped cream.
If you want to recreate this and don’t want to make your own ice cream and fudge cookies, the brand Little Something Foods makes what they call “Mad Minis,” which are delightful miniature ice cream sandwiches, Oliver said.
2. The Intergalactic
The main component here is marbled, pliable ganache (aka flexi-chocolate) shaped into a ring (consisting of chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, gelatin, agar agar, and a pinch of salt). The remaining components are chocolate crumb (which can easily be made by dehydrating crumbled chocolate cake in the oven at a low temp until it’s crunchy), cocoa powder (along with a planetary stencil Oliver purchased at a nearby Michael’s craft store), maraschino gelee (pureed maraschino cherries with a touch of gelatin or cornstarch for thickening), edible silver powder (also purchased at Michael’s), finely chopped fresh strawberries brunoise, fresh banana bread, and Talenti brand Double Dark Chocolate Gelato.
3. Pas-Tell Me About It
“I wanted to do a really color-forward, playful version of a banana split that kids would enjoy making and plating,” Oliver said. “I thickened my paint with a little extra sugar to achieve a subtle splatter effect that worked with the softer color palette.”
This dessert is made of meringue drops, edible paint, Smucker’s brand chocolate fudge sauce, fresh banana, Dolcezza brand Roasted Strawberry gelato, and of course, those delightful candy legos, which Oliver purchased from The Fresh Market.
“The meringue drops are easy to make as they are essentially just fruit flavored miniature pavlova (egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar), but I used Flower & White brand Meringue Drops,” Oliver said. “The edible paint is super easy to make and behaves similarly to actual paint. Each color consists of a half cup of powdered sugar, a tablespoon of liquid (water, liquor, or extract), and a drop of food coloring, gel-based being the most powerful.”
4. Peanut Butter Jelly Time
Here, Oliver opted to marry two other classic American treats — the good, old-fashioned peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and the iconic campfire s’more to elevate the traditional banana split.
The components are red velvet cake (a coveted family recipe courtesy of Oliver’s mother, Nancy), chocolate fudge sauce, torched marshmallow fluff, crushed graham cracker (mixed with dehydrated peanut butter), mini toast slices, strawberry preserves, fresh banana, raspberry meringue powder, and Talenti brand Raspberry sorbet.
5. It Takes Two to Mango
“I wanted to make a bright, sunny, tropical version infused with mango,” Oliver said.
This one has California tiger stripe figs, mango banana puree, birthday cake flavored cotton candy (purchased from The Fresh Market), Talenti brand mango gelato, meringue powder, toasted macadamia nuts, edible flowers, finely chopped banana, candied ginger, and a simple white fondant rose.
6. The Neapolitan Complex
This dessert is simply a trio of tiny milkshakes (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry), each made with whole milk and ice cream blended in a Vitamix), banana bread cut into flowers, and edible flowers.
“Just thought I’d shake things up a little,” Oliver said.
7. Matcha-do About Nothing
In this garden tea party version the components are lime zest and matcha (green tea) powder, a green tea macaron, Talenti brand Madagascar vanilla bean gelato, fresh zinnias (edible flowers), fresh kiwi, banana bread, and chocolate crumble.
Oliver’s secret weapon here is a wonderful indoor temperature controlled farm in Washington, D.C., called Little Wild Things City Farm that grows quality microgreens and edible flowers not found in traditional grocery stores.
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.