Tokyo Banana Chiffon Sandwiches

Tokyo Banana will always take me back to trips to Japan, where I would eat the soft fluffy snack cakes, stuffed with a banana cream often. When I was conceptualizing a fun chiffon cake sandwich recipe, one of my immediate go-to’s was none other than Tokyo Banana. When it comes to banana-flavored desserts, I learned a fun trick from my time at Milkbar, where we would freeze bananas solid, then let them thaw out. Doing that immediately ripens the banana, and intensifying the flavor of it – this is how I make really flavorful banana custards and cakes. I used the super ripe bananas in this case to make a banana custard, which I will admit is not the most appetizing color(at Milkbar, we used yellow food coloring to give the custard a more palatable appearance, but at the same time, I figured since the custard was a filling, it was not going to be seen right away). To give the cake a brighter yellow color, I used kinako(toasted soy bean) powder, which gave the cake a gorgeous golden-yellow color to it. I loved the idea of using the kinako, since it adds a nuttiness that plays off of the bananas in a pleasant way.

For the components, we have a kinako chiffon cake, ripened banana custard, honey cream, and bruleed banana slices. For the banana custard, just to be funny, I used Korean banana milk in place of normal milk, since it will reinforce the banana flavor, even if it is an artificial banana flavoring. With the honey cream, I felt like honey would be a pleasant contrast to the kinako and the banana, adding a slight complexity and bitterness to the nutty toasted soy bean flavor and the pleasantly sweet and creamy banana custard. I also bruleed some banana slices to add as a garnish on top, just for a gorgeous visual on top of the dessert, and to let it be known that this is a banana dessert more than anything else! If you do not own a blowtorch, you can also broil sugar onto banana chips in your oven. The broiled sugar banana chip was what I used to do in lieu of bruleed banana slices when I was not a proud blowtorch owner(thank you, Renee Wang and Samantha Daily for buying me one at different points in my life, because I would definitely not have done that myself!).

Makes 8 sandwiches:
For the kinako chiffon:
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cups mochiko
1/3 cup kinako powder
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

In a bowl, whip the egg whites with the sugar to stiff peaks. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with milk, canola oil, and vanilla first. Then sift into that the mochiko, kinako, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the egg whites to create your batter.

Pour the batter into an 8-inch chiffon cake mold, preferably one with a removable bottom. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Then let the cakes rest in the oven, turned off with the door slightly cracked open, for another 10 minutes. Place the chiffon cakes upside down on a heatproof bottle that is big enough to fit through the hole of the tin(I used an olive oil bottle, though certain wine bottles should work as well!). Rest the cake in that upside down position for at least 45 minutes before attempting to remove the cake from the tin. Divide the cake into 8 edges, cutting a slit into each wedge, before storing in an airtight container for assembly.

For the banana cream:
4oz banana milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp gelatin powder + 1 tbsp cold water
2 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a pot, melt down the sugar and gelatin into the banana milk. Temper into that mixture the egg yolks and salt, and then transfer to a blender. Puree with the bananas and vanilla extract, passing everything through a sieve to remove any lumps. Allow the cream to cool down, covered, in the refrigerator. Prior to assembly, mix the cream with a rubber spatula just to loosen it.

For the honey cream:
6oz heavy cream
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk everything together until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag and store in the refrigerator until time to use.

For the bruleed bananas:
1 banana
granulated sugar

Right before garnishing, slice the banana into 1/2-inch thick slices. Sprinkle on top of each slice a thin layer of sugar. Brulee the sugar with a blowtorch until the sugar begins to turn golden-brown. Allow the sugar to cool down on top for at least 1 minute before attempting to plate with.

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