entertainingfoodFood & Drinkin the kitchen withkristina gillrecipes

in the kitchen with: nikki gardner’s banana rum fritters

by Kristina Gill

I’ve recently been liberated from our yard, where I was snowed in for five days. In knee-deep snow atop inches of ice, fallen trees stood between me and the gate to our driveway, which leads out onto the main road and was, in any case, unusable for three of those five days. Being the food-focused person I am, fortunately we had enough food in the freezer and in the cabinets to last us that entire time (from this column: beetroot pesto, pulled pork and peach chutney). I did, however, start to daydream about wonderful sweets (I didn’t want to use up the eggs in case we needed to make pasta!). This week’s recipe — Banana Rum Fritters with Maple Walnut Cream Sauce by food writer Nikki Gardner — is just the sweet treat I had in mind. What’s your dream winter sweet treat? — Kristina

About Nikki: Nikki Gardner lives in farm-rich western Massachusetts and writes about art, food and life for publications such as Artful Blogging, Edible Pioneer Valley and Smithsonian’s Food & Think. Her photographs and recipes have also appeared in the L.A. Times, the Kitchn, the New York Times and WBUR’s Public Radio Kitchen, among others. She is behind the blog Art and Lemons, and when she’s not chronicling everyday life with a camera or pen, she’s dreaming about her next road trip in search of fun and adventures.

Read Nikki’s recipe after the jump.



Note: These banana fritters can be baked or fried, depending on your mood. Since the dough has a high moisture content like that of pâte à choux typically used to make beignets and gougères, among other pastries, it means the fritters will take a bit more time to fry than your average doughnut, so don’t be alarmed by the 5- to 10-minute total fry time. You want to make sure the fritters are cooked in the center and crisp on the outside. Baking them will take a bit less time and will be just as good.

Photography and styling by Nikki Gardner.

Banana Rum Fritters
Makes about 2 dozen

  • neutral oil for frying (such as peanut or corn oil)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 medium (about 2 cups) bananas (peeled and cut into halves lengthwise, then into quarters, then into smaller 1-inch chunks)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar for dusting


1. To prepare the dough: Combine the sugar, butter, salt, milk and rum in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil, immediately turn down the heat to low and add the flour all at once. Stir consistently until the mixture pulls away from the pan and forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring until the dough is completely smooth after each addition.

2. To fry the fritters: Put at least 2 inches of oil in a deep pan or flat-bottom wok on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high; bring to 350ºF or until hot enough to brown a small 1-inch cube of bread in 1 minute.

3. Remove about a tablespoon of dough from the saucepan. Roll into a ball in the palm of your hand, then flatten it into a small circle (roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches in circumference) and add a chunk or two of the bananas. Fold the dough around the banana until the fruit is completely enclosed. Follow these steps with the rest of the dough, making a ball and folding in the fruit, and then carefully release the fritters into the hot oil using metal tongs or a slotted spoon, adding only as many as will fit comfortably at once (if the pan gets overcrowded, the oil temperature drops and the fritters won’t cook properly). Cook the fritters, gently turning as they brown, for a total of 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fritters from the oil and drain them on paper towels. Put the powdered sugar in a flour sifter and immediately dust the tops with the sifted sugar or place the powdered sugar and fritters in a small paper bag and gently shake to lightly coat them in sugar.

5. To bake the fritters: Instead of preparing the oil for frying, preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Prepare the banana-filled dough as instructed above. Place the dough on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until crisp and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Serve the fried or baked fritters warm alongside a bowl of the Maple Walnut Cream Sauce.

Maple Walnut Cream Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


1. Use a food processor or blender to grind the walnuts into the texture of coarse meal.

2. Put the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is hot, add the ground walnuts. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking and stirring until the mixture darkens and forms a sort of paste. Add the nutmeg and sea salt.

3. Pour in the maple syrup; cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.

4. Pour in the cream and whisk to blend with the maple walnut mixture. Gently cook the sauce without boiling, stirring often, until it thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and when cool to the touch, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve alongside the fritters with a spoon or knife for spreading or dipping.

Why Nikki Loves This Recipe

There is nothing quite like warm banana rum fritters dipped in maple walnut cream to draw everyone to the table. They’re rustic with a bit of decadence thrown in for good measure. Sweet cooked bananas mixed with hints of butter, maple syrup, and rum that leave traces of powdered sugar and plenty of comfort behind. They are especially good to make with friends for brunch or dessert or whenever an occasion arises to gather in the kitchen to cook together.

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