I had really wanted to enter this recipe in "Your Best Dumpling" contest, but my school schedule prevented it. How perfect now to have another opportunity. This recipe was inspired by one for Banana Spring Rolls with Rum Sauce from a very old issue of Bon Appetit or Gourmet that I made when I was in middle school. Growing up, I loved making elaborate desserts -- chocolate or coconut souffles, individual cheesecakes, profiteroles. Upon reflection, I am amazed that my mom let me endeavor on these culinary adventures, considering my age. It all started with simpler fare from the Silver Palate at age 8 and really took off when I got my hands on Gourmet at 11 or 12.
My dad likes to give my boyfriend a hard time about the desserts I haven't made for him yet, even though we have been going out for some time: "Has she made you bread pudding? Flourless chocolate cake? Coconut souffle? And what about her banana wontons?" The answer is often a downtrodden no, leading to questions about my true affection. I throw up my hands and say, "med school!" and that placates him temporarily. However, given this week's contest and a brief lull before finals, I decided now was the time to (finally) make him this dessert.
Note: the caramel sauce was inspired by David Lebovitz and the recipe for five spice powder adapted from the myriad versions that abound online. Enjoy! —student epicure
Banana Wontons and Caramel Sauce
square wonton wrappers
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I really like to use Scharffen Berger)
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, distribute sugar evenly and heat over medium heat. As sugar begins to melt, gently move unmelted parts to the center with a wooden spoon, swirling as you go. Be careful not to over stir, as sugar may not melt evenly. When sugar has completely melted and has turned a dark caramel color, remove from heat and stir in butter.
Stir in cream. Caramel will probably seize. Return to medium-low heat and stir until caramel has completely dissolved. This may take a couple minutes, so be patient!
Dice banana and mix with chocolate.
Set up your dumpling folding workstation. You will need a small bowl of water for wetting the dumpling wrappers. To fold dumplings, place a small amount of banana mixture (~3 cubes) in the center of the dumpling. Dampen two sides of the wrapper and fold into a triangle. Place triangle down with the long edge facing you. Wet one corner of the long edge. Using your thumb, indent the long edge of triangle and bring the inside of the two corners together, as if the triangle were bringing its "hands" together. This is called a "praying" dumpling. Repeat until all the banana filling has been used. If you find the wonton wrappers are ripping, try using a smaller amount of filling. Cover wontons with a damp paper towel until ready to cook. All these steps can be done before dinner.
In a wok, or high sided pot, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil over high heat. When hot, but not smoking, reduce heat to medium and add 8 or so wontons. Fry, turning once or twice to cook evenly, until light brown. Drain with a slotted spoon to a paper towels.
To serve, arrange dumplings on plates. Dust with five spice powder using a sifter, the way you would confectionary sugar. Drizzle with caramel sauce.
Chinese Five Spice Powder
In a small skillet, toast Sichuan peppercorns until quite fragrant ~2 minutes.
In a VERY clean spice grinder, grind all the spices together until they form a very fine powder.