If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m on there a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But this past Sunday I dropped off the face of the digital earth. I did this for one simple reason: my parents were in town and it just happened to be Mother’s Day. Yes, I finally had the honor of actually spending Mother’s Day with my mom. Something I hadn’t done for 10 years. So yeah, I took a digital time out and whipped up these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes for the nice lady who birthed me. The moral of this story is: if you have to make up for a 10-year lapse in anything, do it with homemade croissant dough. You’ll get the results you’re looking for, I promise.
I probably don’t need to tell that my mom was amply impressed by these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes. But to be fair, my mom was impressed with the piles of burnt toast I used to present her with. I called that dish “The Art of Toast” and it always went over exceptionally well. But this time, I think she was actually was impressed and, honestly, I consider it to be a career highlight. You see, my mom’s opinion is very important to me. I realize this is probably a universal thing. I don’t think I know a single person that honestly doesn’t give a sh*t about what their mom thinks about them. But when it comes to food and the work I do, my mom is the ultimate inspiration.
Like most spirited home cooks, I learned from watching my mom in the kitchen. I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog that my mom was always an adventurous home cook, willing to try any and everything. She didn’t come from a family of cooks per say, but she was always keen to reach outside of her comfort zone and learn something new. And she did this well before Google made it so damn easy. She raised me to be fearless in the kitchen. To try and fail and learn and try again. And I feel grateful to her every time I flick a whisk or sear a shank. She truly is my greatest culinary influence.
Honestly, if I knew this was going to get so sappy, I would’ve brought some tissues. I also realize that the “I love you, Mom” post probably should have been posted on Sunday. But this is Rhubarb & Cod, we don’t make sense here. That’s just not us. And by “us” I mean me because that’s all there is. I apologize for the outpouring of emotion, it was unbecoming of waspy upbringing. It’s not my fault my mom so damn cool. She just is and sometimes I can’t help but express it. But let’s just focus on these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes because, I mean, look at them. They look flippin’ amazing! And as good as they look, they taste even better.
So, as with the vast majority of my recipes, these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes are a project. And that’s Project with a capital P. Scratch that. That’s PROJECT capitalized! Have you ever tried to make your own croissant dough? It’s, like, hard and stuff. I’ve done it roughly 8 times and every time I think it’s going to be easier and everytime it’s only marginally easier. It’s a tough nut to crack. I just can’t secure it in my muscle memory.
I’m not saying this to discourage you because I honestly think you should make these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes. I only say this to advise you to check your patience and ego at the door and approach this dough without expectation. I promise, even if you feel like you screwed up royally, the dough will taste amazing because it’s impossible for anything with 5 sticks of butter to not taste amazing. Which brings me to my next warning. This recipe has 5 sticks of butter. Yeah, defo not diet food.
On the other hand, the banana jam, which brings the banana to these Banana Dulce de Lech Danishes, is the easiest thing on the planet to make. You basically put all of the ingredients in a frying pan and cook everything down. It takes 10 minutes and tastes like banana cream pie concentrate…Does that sound gross? I don’t mean it to sound gross. What I mean is it’s so flavorful that it tastes like the essence of a banana cream pie. Wait. Does that make sense? Oh, forget it. It tastes REAL banana-y. I’m such a talented food writer.
Anyway, the banana jam is very simple and straightforward. So, if you want to make these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes without manufacturing your own butter plate (yes, it’s a thing), whip up the jam and plunk it in some store-bought crescent dough. I won’t tell if you don’t. Oh, and the dulce de leche? I bought it. So yeah, not so much of a project anymore, huh?
Regardless of whether you decide to take the shortcut or go the long route, these Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes are bound to wow you. There isn’t a croissant on this earth that tastes better than the one you make yourself. But hey, if don’t have the will then there is a way, a way that involves a certain doughboy.
Banana Dulce de Leche Danishes
- 1 batch croissant dough see below
- 4 ripe bananas peeled and sliced
- 1 cup demerara sugar
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dulce de leche
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/2 cup crushed banana chips
- Adapted from Saveur Magazine
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast divided
- 5 1/4 cups bread flour divided
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter divided butter
For the Croissant Dough
- Pour 3/4 cup of the whole milk into a saucepan. Heat the milk over low heat until it reaches 90°F. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the milk into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the yeast over the milk and stir to dissolve. Working in 1/4 cup increments, stir in 1 1/4 cups of the bread flour. A sticky dough should form. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to let rise for 2 1/2 hours.
- Once the flour mixture has doubled in size, transfer it to a large stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining yeast and set the mixer to it's lowest setting. Let mix for 2 minutes or until the yeast is fully integrated and the dough is uniform. Pour in 3/4 of cup of the remaining milk and increase the mixer's speed. Let mix for 5 minutes or until the mixture resembles a thick cream.
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and add it to the mixer. Add the sugar and salt and return the mixer to it's lowest setting. Add 1/2 of the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments, waiting for each addition to be fully integrated before adding more. Pour the remaining milk into the mixer and mix until integrated. Add the last 1/2 of the flour and mix until a slightly tacky, uniform dough forms.
- Place the dough on a well-floured surface and knead it briefly, about 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with sunflower oil and cover with plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Place the dough on a well-floured surface and roll it out into a rectangular shape roughly 2-inches thick. Wrap the dough and transfer it to the fridge and let chill for 3-4 hours.
- Once the dough is chilled, take the remaining butter (you should have five sticks) and place them in the center of a large sheet of parchment paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper over top. Using a rolling pin, beat the butter into a rectangular shape that measures 12x18 inches. Transfer the butter to the refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.
- Place the chilled dough on a floured surface and roll it out to a 28x12-inch rectangle. Peel the top sheet of parchment paper off of the chilled butter plate. Place the plate face-side-down on the dough covering 2/3 of it. Peel the the remaining sheet of parchment off of the butter plate. Fold the naked 1/3 of the dough over the butter plate. Continue folding the dough as you would a business letter. Pinch the seams to seal in the butter plate, then give the dough a quarter turn and roll it out to a 28x12-inch rectangle. Fold the dough once again like you would a business letter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and transfer it to the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Once the hour has elapsed, return the dough to the floured surface and roll it out to a 28x12-inch rectangle. Fold it again like you would a business letter, then wrap it and return it to the fridge to chill for another hour or until ready to use.
For the Danishes
- Place the bananas, sugar, vanilla bean, lemon juice, butter and salt in a large skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and mash any remaining pieces of banana with the back of a spoon. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out to a 12x40-inch rectangle. Trim 1-inch of dough from the longest sides of the rectangle. Divide the rectangle into thirds.
- Take one third and spread dulce de leche on it, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Add roughly 2 tablespoons of banana jam to the dough and spread it evenly over top of the dulce de leche. Take the end closest to you and roll it away from yourself to form a log. Tuck the ends into the log and pinch the dough to form a seam on all sides. Transfer the log to the fridge and let chill for 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Slice each log into 8 even pieces. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, 8 danishes per sheet. Leave the danishes to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and heavy cream together. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture onto each danish. Cover the danishes with a sprinkling of crushed banana chips and place them in the oven. Bake the danishes for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let the danishes cool on the sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with a good cup of coffee.