Banana Pudding homage to Chef Alex Seidel

A highlight of attending the Snowmass Culinary and Arts Festival for me was the opportunity to meet Chef Alex Seidel.  I truly believe he’s one to watch; part of the up-and-coming new culinary regime with his finger on the pulse of the current culinary appetite and interests, as well as is diving into what’s cool and forward.
By example, the weekend of the culinary festival he was cooking at a James Beard event in Crested Butte Colorado Friday, doing a how to make sheep’s milk cheese demonstration in Snowmass Saturday and participating in Cochon 555 All Stars in Las Vegas Sunday.  Let’s not forget he does run a restaurant in Denver (Fruition), a farm that feeds Fruition’s needs as well as many other local restaurants, is a husband and father.  I would guess he subscribes to the Irish proverb ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ knowing his schedule.
I sadly did NOT meet him in Snowmass.  My schedule changed and I was unable to attend his demonstration.  I have had the opportunity to be his penpal over a few culinary matters however.   Knowing all of his endeavors I really was surprised to hear back promptly and personally to my emails to him.  In between planes and events he somehow made the time for my inquiries.  One of those was to have a recipe of his to include in a blog post about Snowmass and his personal fabulosity (I did not put the last part in the email).  The recipe was lost in cyber space upon his first sending but despite the madness of his weekend he resent it when learning it never arrived, with an apology (too much!).
Though now decoupled from his demo at Snowmass, I had to share his recipe for what I can attest is the most divine Banana Pudding ever.  I realize ‘banana pudding’ may not sound like  the sexiest thing on the dessert tray but it is.  A beautifully rich dessert with a texture of silk.  The banana flavor is clean, smooth, authentic and not overpowering.
I will confess I was walking a bit taller after opening Chef Alex’s recipe.  It was a REAL chef recipe.  Everything in ounces, lots of ounces, no wimpy cups or tablespoons.  And it was for about 300 of my closest friends.  It also used chefy words like ‘temper’.  I was stoked he pulled it from the files (or maybe his head) and sent it off not imagining a translator might be needed. 
Not to rob you of the same thrill but I have reduced the quantity to serve more like 8 of YOUR closest friends and I elaborated a bit on the instruction too (just used smaller, less chefy words).  Chef Alex and I did not spend hours on the phone noodling over the best way to present and tszuj the food.  Hoping he’ll appreciate a simple sprig of mint and banana slice.
BANANA PUDDING
Ingredients:
·         30 ounces Banana Milk (see recipe below)
·         9 ounces sugar
·         ¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
·         6 ¼ ounces egg yolks
·         7 ½ ounces eggs (shelled)
·         1 ¾ oz cornstarch or arrowroot starch
·         1 stick unsalted butter, melted
·         2 ounces banana liqueur
1.       In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat banana milk, sugar and salt.  Bring just to the start of a boil, stirring frequently.
2.      In a blender, blend the eggs, yolks and cornstarch/arrowroot starch to combine.  Pour into a large heat proof bowl.
3.      Slowly pour the heated milk mixture into the egg/starch mixture, whisking all the time.
4.      After the mixture in step 3 is fully combined, put back into the saucepan on low-medium.  Whisk constantly until mixture is very thick (for me it took about 8 minutes with the heat closer to medium).
5.      Remove from heat.  Add the melted butter and banana liqueur, whisking until smooth.

6.      Add pudding in batches to the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl set in an ice bath (basically the bowl receiving the pudding beneath the strainer is set into a bowl with a layer of ice in it) and push pudding through the strainer with a spatula.  Fully cool.

Banana Milk:
·         25 ounces ripe bananas  or roasted bananas (see below)
·         2 ½ ounces sugar
·         1 ¼ ounces butter
·         4½ cups whole milk
1.      Place all ingredients into a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a slight boil. 
2.      Cool overnight or until fully chilled.
3.      Strain mixture, pushing the bananas with a wooden spoon or firm spatula to release all the milk.  Set aside for the pudding recipe.
Roasting Bananas:
·         5 ripe bananas (not under ripe green bananas or over ripe black or spotty bananas)
1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.      Place bananas on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Do not peel or piece the peel.
3.      Place in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes until the peel has turned black and the banana may begin to seep from the peel.
Bananas before roasting and after 12 minutes in the 350 degree oven
4.      Allow to cool enough to peel and proceed with the banana milk recipe above.

Comments

  1. says

    Banana pudding is one of the desserts that I grew up with (both instant pudding type and from scratch, my preference is definitely scratch made). This is such an interesting way to take the flavors to a whole new level. Thanks.

  2. says

    I wish you had been able to meet him in Snowmass Toni, he was such a sweet unassuming guy and you would never have guessed he was hurtling from one place to the other. I just wish you could have been there when I mentioned you; when he knew who you were and made a point of wanting to make sure you did connect and not lose touch over an errant email. Very impressed for sure.

    I did chuckle over your quantity dilemma, I've got a connection with Nordstrom's Cafe to get their recipes if requested…the work to break them down into manageable quantities is quite the job and I for one, REALLY appreciate you doing that for us. Love banana pudding, love your photos and think I also love Chef Seidel.

  3. says

    Hi Toni, I must have completely missed this post about Chef Alex. Fruition is our very favorite restaurant. We have been going there for several years and always enjoy our dinners. Yes, he is a very down to earth chef and always takes the time to connect with his diners in person. You need to go back soon! He has a pork chop on the menu that is to die for.

    • says

      It doesn't really matter since they function only to release flavor into the milk. As the recipe for the milk notes you will strain them out of the final milk by mashing them at the end to release all moisture into the milk but the fruit of the banana is not included in the milk. Does that help?

    • says

      It does help, thank you.

      For the same step, how long should the mixture be at a boil for? Is it enough for it to simply reach boil, and then remove from heat?

      I apologize if I am reading the recipe far too simply. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond.

    • says

      Yes, just bring it to a slight boil and remove from heat, following the rest of the recipe. That allows the flavor to transfer to the liquid without overheating the milk.

      I'm happy to answer any questions to make the directions more clear. This pudding is fantastic; I want to be sure you can enjoy it!

    • says

      My preparation resulted in a pudding of a pale avocado colour–what might have caused that?

      The flavour was fine–if a tad sweet–but otherwise nothing seemed off.

    • says

      I'm relpying to both of your last comments in one! I'm so glad it was 'divine' and I'm happy to help.

      My guess about the color (comment 2) is something relating to the bananas and maybe the type of oxidation the fruit has when cut and exposed to the air. My pudding was as pictured, a more pale yellow which I think depending on what it is served in can visually skew toward a greenish tint. On the sweetness, it IS a very rich pudding. My suggestion if the sweetness was too much would be to decrease the sugar to your liking when you make it in future. Hope you'll enjoy!

    • says

      Second time around!

      The colour was spot-on (I deduced that the failure in my previous attempt arose from too-ripe bananas) and the flavour so much better–I used 2oz (not 2.5oz) sugar for the milk, and fully halved the sugar from 9oz to 4.5oz that is called for later in the recipe. (I also slightly reduced the liqueur amount from 2oz to 1 3/4oz.)

      The banana flavour was much more pronounced.

  4. Lope says

    Hey there, I know this post is a few years old but just wanted to say thank you for posting this recipe :) I searched through about fifty online recipes for banana pudding, and all of them were either vanilla pudding with banana slices mixed in or made with banana pudding mix :( This is the first one I’ve found that is actual banana pudding.

    I’m looking forward to making it! Thanks again.

    • says

      Lope so lovely to get your comment. And now I can’t wait for you to try this recipe because you will completely love it. It is so lush with authentic buttery banana flavor; it’s like nothing you’ve tasted! The chef from whom it originated is a great, down to earth guy who really respects food and uses quality ingredients and innovative methods. You are in for a treat; promise! Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment.

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