All Aboard the Banana Boat!
You can draw an allusion to baked bananas and boats in one of two ways: the obvious, in which a split banana resembles a boat, and the metaphorical, describing baked bananas as vessels like boats – vessels perfect for carrying just about any ingredient, from spices to sweets.
Chocolate-pecan baked bananas with an autumn-spice glaze? A upside-down banana split complete with strawberries and ice cream? A baked rendition of the Chinese-restaurant favorite, toffee bananas? All easy to make and ready in about 30 minutes or less.
Split the unpeeled bananas down the center. Leave about 1/2 inch of the peel at both ends of the bananas intact, and make the slice about 1/2 inch deep.
Make "cradles" for the bananas out of aluminum foil. Set each banana on a 12-inch square of aluminum foil. Crimp the foil around each banana to hold it split-side-up during baking. Open the bananas up to form a pocket to hold the toppings.
Add the goodies.
This is where you let your creativity do the work. If you need inspiration, reconstruct your favorite desserts or sweets on the bananas.
For example, if you love peanut butter cups, smear a dollop of peanut butter down the pocket in the banana, and top with chocolate chips. For a coconut-cream pie variation, add a mix of pineapple chunks and shredded coconut to the banana, and top with whipped cream and a little more coconut before serving.
Bake the bananas at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes.The banana peels will have turned black when they're ready. If you have toppings that might burn, such as chopped nuts, go with the lower end of the time range.
Now that you have the technique down, try a few of these fun takes on baked bananas. Feel free to adapt these ideas as you prefer by adding or omitting ingredients.
For a Chinese-restaurant style banana toffee, brush melted butter over the flesh of the banana and sprinkle on just enough sugar to coat. Drizzle toffee topping in the pocket of the banana, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Top with toasted sesame seeds, and serve with ice cream.
To make autumn-inspired baked bananas, brush the banana flesh with heavy simple syrup (2 parts sugar mixed with 1 part water) mixed with a pinch of allspice or cinnamon. Top with chopped chocolate and chopped pecans, and bake for 12 minutes.
You can easily adapt this recipe to plantains for a savory take on baked bananas (you do have to peel the plantains first, though). Create a pocket in the plantains, and make foil cradle for them like you do with baked bananas. Proceed to stuff the plantains with savory ingredients. Try (cooked) ground beef or turkey with garlic, peppers and cheese, or baked-potato style stuffed plantains with cheddar cheese, bacon, chives and sour cream.