I’ve been a vegetarian for the last ten years and while voluntarily ending my relationship with chicken nuggets is a concept lost on many, I never actually have an explanation for it. Just a vague, “I dunno, just didn’t like meat anymore I suppose”. That is met with gasps and jokes and stunned silence so it’s obviously not a very good answer.
While I still eat eggs and dairy, it really amazes me that so many incredible cooks out there experiment with vegan, gluten-free, completely plant-based meals every day.
You guys. This is amazing. Really. The fewest, most unique ingredients I’ve ever worked with created a dish so delicious and so beautiful, I don’t know why I bother with cheesecake. (Of course I do).
When I saw these plantains and this whipped cream on Minimalist Baker, I had to try them out. Together. One, they sounded and looked delicious. Two, why not try something new? While my version isn’t entirely dairy free and the plantains are a study in themselves, I’m definitely making these again!
Sliced plantains, sweetened with coconut sugar, caramelised to the point of charring, topped with a silky, coconut-y whipped cream made from coconut milk with a dash of vanilla for fun and flavour.
Before I gush any further, I must tell you about the plantains. I only got my hands on the green ones, fairly raw, but used extensively in Southern India. They taste more like sweet potato than banana and therefore need a little more sugar than the yellow, riper plantains would. However, to keep things simple, use regular bananas that are ripe, but firm, so that slicing and cooking them isn’t a big squishy task.
The green ones I used taste amazing, but get chewy very quickly which I don’t think will happen with regular bananas. They also have a stronger flavour that not everyone will take to easily.
While the original recipe uses coconut oil to caramelise the plantains, I chose butter because I love the flavour it gives during caramelization and the fact that it creates a sort of caramel sauce that gives the plantains an extra layer of awesomeness. If you would like to keep the entire recipe dairy-free, use oil instead of butter.
The coconut sugar that the bananas are caramelized in are from Sprig, but regular brown sugar should work just fine. The great thing about the one from Sprig is it comes pre-mixed with cinnamon and other warming spices. Yum!
I actually meant to make this weeks ago, so I had a carton of coconut milk in the refrigerator for a very long time. I highly recommend chilling for at least 2 days, because coconut milk isn’t as easy to whip up as coconut cream or regular whole milk.
The chilled milk will look firm enough to dollop on as is, but a little powdered sugar and a few minutes of beating goes a long way in keeping it fluffy and firm. So, so, so good!
For a fresh, unique dessert, this is my new favourite. Try it!
What you’ll need:
For the coconut whipped cream
200 ml coconut milk, chilled for at least 2 days
3 tsps powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
For the coconut sugar plantains
2 large plantains, peeled and thinly sliced (Green plantains can be peeled like you would peel a pineapple, by slicing the skin off the fruit. They take longer to cook than regular bananas so thin slices are best. Regular ripe, but firm bananas are a sweeter option. Read the post for more details.)
3 tbsps coconut sugar (adjust to suit taste preferences)
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder (if the sugar you’re using isn’t already spiced)
1 tbsp butter or oil
What to do:
1. To make the coconut whipped cream, first chill a large mixing bowl and the beaters from your hand-mixer for about 20 minutes.
2. Beat the firm coconut milk for a few seconds till smooth, then add the powdered sugar and beat again till it starts to thicken. Add the vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes till soft peaks form. It won’t appear exactly as regular whipped cream does, so don’t worry. Place the bowl back in the fridge to allow the cream to set.
3. Toss the sliced plantains with the sugar and cinnamon if using. Add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter for caramelization.
4. Heat a pan on medium heat, melt the butter and add the sliced plantains, in a single layer, so that each slice gets cooked. After about 2 minutes, flip the slices and cook the other side. The deeper the colour, the more flavourful the caramelization will be.
5. Transfer to a serving plate and allow to cool for a few minutes before dolloping the chilled coconut whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with coconut sugar and eat immediately! You can refrigerate leftover plantains but they taste best on day one. The leftover coconut cream will last well in the fridge, maybe use it on hot chocolate? Yum!