Saturday, December 15, 2012

Delicious Guatemalan Dessert

Today I made Plantains in Mole Sauce for dessert. Called "Mole de Platano" in Guatemala, this is one dessert that I learned to make that has been enjoyed even by some of my family here in the States. I am from the States, and lived in Guatemala in the 1970s. I enjoyed learning to cook all the great foods down there. Makes me really wish my children lived nearer, because at this time of year tamales would be wonderful to make. The recipe makes a huge amount, so it isn't easy to have 60 tamales around. I would be eating them forever. Not a problem except that is a lot of tamales! Guatemalan tamales are at least double the size of a Mexican tamal. One makes a meal, unless you are supremely hungry.
Mole de Platano or Plantains in Mole Sauce

I digress. I guess I have been dreaming of tamales, too. Oh well. Today I made the plantains instead. I haven't made this dessert in quite a while. The recipe calls for some ingredients that you may find strange if you are not accustomed to the Central American penchant for mixing savory ingredients into sweets. It calls for sesame seeds (ajonjoli) and pumpkin seeds (pepitoria), true cinnamon, tomatillos and Roma tomatoes. It also calls for one of the Guatemalan breads that is more like a cookie, made into crumbs for thickening. These cookie-like breads are called Champurradas. That is another very Guatemalan thing; using a bread or crumbs of some kind for thickening a sauce. And lastly is chocolate, which makes the dish. The chocolate used in Guatemala is more like the Mexican Chocolate tablets you can find in some groceries or Mexican groceries. The Mexican or Guatemalan chocolate tablets are large, because they have sugar in them already, along with other flavors such as cinnamon or vanilla.

That is all the sauce ingredients, but then comes the plantains. Plantains are a much larger relative of the banana. They are very starchy and need to be cooked. One of the interesting things about plantains is that they can be used as a vegetable when green, or a dessert once ripe. If you are one of those (like me) who hate bananas once they get spots on the skin, you need to set that mindset aside when it comes to plantains. If a plantain's skin is unblemished, they are really, really green. To have a very sweet and ripe plantain, you must wait until it has nearly blackened. Then it is soft and sweet, and when cooked or fried is tender and delicious. To use as a vegetable, just cook the plantains that are yellow, but with unblemished skin.  They are quite hard still, but can be cooked in water and served that way.

For this dish it is best to have quite ripened plantains, because this will keep them softer in the dessert. If the dessert is refrigerated and the plantains were less than ripe, they will get hard in the sauce and not even heating it all again will help. It is still good, but never quite what it should be. This recipe is really delicious; if you have an adventuresome spirit, please give this recipe a try.

Mole de Platano or Plantains in Mole Sauce

Mole de Platano

or Plantains in Mole Sauce

Serves 6 to 8
3 plantains, very ripe, blackened and soft
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, unhulled variety
1½ tablespoons raw green pumpkin seeds
3 tomatillos, husks removed
3 Roma tomatoes
1 cup water
1 piece true cinnamon stick, about ½” worth
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
½ ounce unsweetened chocolate OR 1 whole tablet Mexican chocolate

1 large handful of simply flavored cookies, i.e. vanilla wafers, animal crackers, made into crumbs
Dry toasting sesame, punpkin seeds,
tomatoes and tomatillos; frying plantains

In a dry skillet, toast, moving constantly, the sesame seeds until most of the seeds have popped, but have not turned too brown. Dump the seeds into a blender container. Repeat this process with the pumpkin seeds and then with the crumbled cinnamon stick to release its fragrance and add to the blender. Place the tomatillos and Roma tomatoes into the dry skillet and roll them around until the exteriors are charred and peeling. Add to the blender along with the cup of water. Blend until all the seeds and cinnamon are pulverized.
Pour this mixture into a medium saucepan and add in the sugar. Stir until the mixture begins to boil. Add the butter and salt, the chocolate and the cookie crumbs and cook until thickened and chocolate is melted.

Heat a skillet and add in some cooking oil. Peel the plantains and slice them about ¼-inch thick, on a bias. Fry the plantain slices until nicely browned and completely tender. Add them to the mole sauce as they are cooked. Once all plantain slices are done, mix well with the sauce and serve. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds as garnish.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.