Banana Pudding Baked Alaska Tartlets

Makes 8 servings

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
Banana Ice Cream (recipe follows)
Simple Meringue (recipe follows)
Garnish: fresh mint, brûleéd bananas

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. In a medium bowl, combine wafer crumbs, brown sugar, butter, salt, and egg white, stirring well. Press crumb mixture into bottoms and up sides of 8 (3-inch) tartlet pans with removable bottoms. Bake for 6 minutes; cool completely.
3. Carefully remove tartlet shells from pans. Place a scoop of ice cream in each tartlet shell. Freeze for 1 hour. Spread about 1/2 cup Simple Meringue over ice cream scoop to completely enclose ice cream. Using a kitchen torch, gently brown meringue; serve immediately. Garnish with fresh mint and brûleéd bananas (see note), if desired.

Note: To make brûleéd bananas, you’ll need a kitchen torch. Place banana slices on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with sugar. Hold the torch about 6 inches away from the fruit, and torch until sugar begins to bubble. Be sure to exercise the utmost caution when using a kitchen torch.

Banana Ice Cream

Makes about 2 quarts

1 quart half-and-half
4 mashed ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 egg yolks

1. In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, bananas, sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, reserved vanilla bean seeds, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; do not boil. Remove from heat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly pour 2 cups hot half-and-half mixture into egg yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly pour egg mixture into remaining half-and-half mixture in saucepan. Return to medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 170º on a candy thermometer.
3. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Cool completely in an ice bath, stirring frequently. Cover, and chill for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
4. Pour mixture into a gel-type countertop freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Ice cream will be soft. For a firmer texture, spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container, and freeze for up to 1 month.

Simple Meringue

Makes 4 cups

1 1/2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches 140º on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 10 minutes. Use immediately.

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