Bermuda bananas, as they are fondly known to locals, have become an essential part of the Bermudian diet and culture, thanks to their sweet flavour and versatility in cooking. Technically called Dwarf Cavendish bananas, the fruit was originally introduced to the island at the time of the first settlement, in 1616. Over the last 400 years, they have continuously been used in numerous favourite Bermudian dishes, from the classic codfish and banana breakfast to bananas flambéed in Goslings rum.
Bananas thrive in Bermuda’s climate and several varieties are cultivated here, including fig, plantain, red and strawberry bananas, in addition to the Bermuda banana. They are grown not from seed but from “sword suckers,” which are planted about six feet apart in deep soil, and a new plant will yield fruit at about 12 to 18 months from the time of planting.
Nutritionally, bananas are an excellent choice for various reasons. They contain iron, vitamin B6, fibre and three types of natural sugar—sucrose, fructose and glucose—making them a great source of natural energy. Additionally, the high potassium and low sodium levels of bananas mean they are ideal for controlling high blood pressure.
When it comes to using Bermuda bananas, the options are endless. Serve them with codfish and potatoes for breakfast, mix them into a fruit salad, bake them into any number of muffins, quick breads, cakes and desserts, or eat them just as they are.
Unbaked Banana Chocolate Cream Pie
For the Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Press the mixture into a nine-inch pie pan and up the sides.
For the Truffle Layer:
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate (Bourneville)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Warm all the ingredients together on low heat. When the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream, pour the mixture over the crust and refrigerate.
For the Custard Layer:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups canned, full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
8 ounces chopped dark chocolate (Bourneville)
Mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks, coconut milk and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring continuously until it is thick and pudding-like. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the butter and chocolate until they are both incorporated into the pudding. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.
Once the pudding is cool, spread it over the truffle mixture and cover the pie with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
For the Topping:
3–4 ripe but firm bananas
1 ½ cups heavy cream, whipped
Toasted coconut and/or grated chocolate
To serve: remove the pie from the refrigerator and arrange sliced bananas on top. Top the bananas with the whipped cream and decorate with toasted coconut and/or grated chocolate.