Friday, April 22, 2005

Sugar Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh Friday!

Sorry, the 'i' got stuck in the sweet, gooey glop that is our key ingredient. Brown and oozing, molasses creates a visceral reaction in me, stemming possibly from afternoons in the kitcken with my Mom making homemade ginger bread or playing Candy Land with my little brother on the living room floor.

Which is why I was a little annoyed that it was picked. Afterall - spring has sprung! Now is the time for light, airy fluffy desserts with nary a calorie in sight, as we shift our minds (and our giths) toward summer, and bathing suit season kicks our will-power alive where our New Year's Eve virtue left it in February. Now is not the time for the thick, rich, lava-like goodness of fall's favorite sugar, molasses.

Or is it?

There's a lot of hullabaloo in dietary news about the importance of fiber, whole grains, fruits, and eating naturally. Diets, once focussed on low carb this and high protein that, seem to have died back down in favor of eating what the Good Lord put on this Earth unabated. The less processing, the better.

So, to temper my desire for Spring time, I decided to take molasses and help it turn a slender ankle in the direction of health and well-being. I decided to take a Cooking Light recipe, a little creativity, and some nutritional knowledge, and create a sugar high Friday to save myself a little guilt without sacrificing my dessert.

Enter: Oatmeal-Molasses Banana Bread with Bananas Foster Topping

I began with this recipe for Molasses-Oat Banana Bread from the September, 2003 CL magazine. I had to use fat free yogurt, because that's all we had in the house, but otherwise I followed the recipe appropriately. The batter came together beautifully, despite my adding the bananas a little late in the game, and was a lovely, mahogany color spiked with little oak pips of banana and oats.

I spatulaed (like the verb? Looks latin.) the batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray as per the instructions, and popped it into the oven.

My oven runs cold, so my bread was baked at a setting of 375° for 1 hour, at which point I checked it and my left-over wood skewer for making satays came out clean. I love these things. Much more finger friendly than a toothpick when you're dippin' into something hot.

I did let the bread cool 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, but when I tried to remove it from the pan, it stuck a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. That's sugar for you. Maybe with the full fat yogurt, I would have been okay, but I doubt it. That's just sugar. Anyway, I removed it from the pan, sat it on the rack, and let it cool the rest of the afternoon so that it could firm up and the moisture would set. After about 30-45 minutes, I did cover it with a towel.

Later that evening, I made the Molasses-Foster topping. It came from a recipe on the Grandma's website - here is the link. The recipe calls for using a microwave, and since I was doing things pretty much by the book, I did it that way. But, in the future, I would do it in a skillet and get a little golden-browning goodness. It also would have helped if I had toasted the nuts. Lessons for next time.

Anyway, I made the cream-molasses caramel as per instructions. It didn't thicken up the way I expected, but the flavor was amazing - full of that savory-sweetness you get from molasses, not corn syrup. I added three sliced bananas to the mix as well as a quarter cup of pecans, since that's what we had, and cooked until it was all gooey. Mmmmm... the smell... I can still smell it. A little rum might not have gone amiss....

The caramel bananas recipe, on its own, was meant to serve four as a dessert, but I decided to use it as a topping on the banana bread to increase moistness and to make a more dessert-like final product. So, I sliced up the bread:

I added 2 T. of caramel, a couple slices of banana, and a few pecans.

Then, as a coup de gras, a tablespoon of Philadelphia-style (eggless) vanilla ice cream. The final product was divine. The molasses notes came out in the bread, the sauce, and were beautifully accented by the vanilla and banana flavors. Nothing tasted too heavy - in fact, the bread, when you took small bites, left with whisps of sugar-molasses thread that gave it an etheral quality I wasn't expecting. The banana flavor wasn't at all overwhelmed, which I feared, by the molasses. And the chewy oats gave the bread a lovely texture that prevented it going all soppy while we were photographing.

CameraMan felt the bread needed a little more salt to bring out the flavor, and that the bread was a little dry. I feel obligated to point this out, but I think neither, because the bread soaked up the sauce to the point where I feel the moisture level was perfect. I do think that, if you wanted to eat the oatmeal bread on its own, you might want to increase the bananas and make sure to use the low-fat (or even full-fat) yogurt to increase moisture.

So, how virtuous did my sugar high Friday turnout? Not too darned bad, especially for the number of real ingredients used - no fat-cuts except the yogurt. The bread, when sliced into 14 pieces, is (maybe a little less fat, since I used FF yogurt):
Calories: 177(23% from fat); Fat 4.6g(sat 2.4g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.4g); Protein 3.5g; Fiber 1.6g; Carbohydrates 31.9g. The sauce? For a 2 T. serving, you add on another 89 calories, 5 g. of fat (2g. saturated), 13 g. carbohydrates. and 1 g. of protein.

A delicious, sweet dessert for 266 calories?

Bring on the bathing suits.


Anonymous Alice said...

I also looked at the CL recipe for banana bread and considered making it! I like your idea of the bananas foster topping...very neat.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

What a delicious sounding dessert - and healthy for you, too! Great idea for SHF, I think.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! »

4:45 PM  
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