I grew up with French toast here in the States, but toast became something altogether different during my trips to Southeast Asia. There I kept stumbling across "toast places," where a piece of bread becomes an elegant dessert. Shibuya Honey Toast is particularly popular—pillowy, butter-rich bread that's block-cut, toasted, and topped with ice cream. It's my starting point for these recipes.
I've also come to believe that black pepper is a better companion to sugar than it is to salt; it provides a welcome spike of flavor without muddying other delicate flavors. I sneak it into everything—ice cream, pound cake, jams—because anything sweet welcomes it. Especially bananas. So sugar-up your toast, brown it a little too much, and have the pepper mill handy.
Ingredients & Why:
1/4 cup dark rum — Bananas. Rum.
3 tablespoons brown sugar — The molasses gives depth and is welcome with charred things.
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and divided — Some for the toast. Some for the sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground — Methinks sugar and black pepper are more natural partners than salt and pepper.
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt — salt heightens flavors and helps combat cloying sweetness.
4 bananas, peeled and cut in half lengthwise — Use mini bananas or Manzanos if you can find them. Any perfectly ripe banana will work, though.
Cooking spray — To keep things moving.
4 (3/4-ounce) "blocks" challah bread, crusts removed — You'll be sugar-dredging this. Then you'll grill. You may never bake again.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar — This will bind with the butter and create something between a glaze and a candy on the bread.
View Recipe: Grilled Bananas on Sugared Rum Toast
Or, for a variation, try Grilled Fig Toast.
Keith Schroeder, chef, culinary educator, and entrepreneur, has led kitchens at resorts, restaurants, catering companies, and luxury hotels throughout the nation. A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta and Coles College of Business at Kennesaw State University, Schroeder is the founder and CEO of High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet, sold in retail venues such as Whole Foods Market and served by fine restaurants, hotels, and airlines. He currently writes Cooking Light magazine's "Cooking Class" column and actively lectures and teaches others his culinary secrets. His first Cooking Light cookbook, Mad Delicious, comes out October 2014. Schroeder lives near Atlanta, GA, with his wife and two children. Connect with Keith Schroeder via Facebook and Twitter.