Amy’s recent passing has brought about an incredible sadness in me, one that I didn’t know was possible to feel for someone whom I’ve never met. I found myself with a temporary loss of inspiration in the kitchen, something that doesn’t happen often. My mom suggested that I take the opportunity to allow Amy to inspire me, as she and her music have so many countless times before. But, what could represent Amy on a plate? After much loving deliberation, we found the inevitable answer: some sort of fabulous mess.
It may come as a surprise that Amy was actually said to be “quite the cook” and enjoyed preparing and feasting on a variety of comfort foods. Her dessert tribute, therefore, needed to be something comforting and soul-warming. After a bit of back-and-forth, I eventually decided to use her favorite cocktail as a starting point for a flavor base, assuming that she’d appreciate a little splash or two of alcohol in the dish meant to celebrate her short life and her beautiful music. The drink, called a “Rickstasy,” is a banana liqueur cocktail, which eventually lead me to the idea of a sort of “Bananas Foster Bread Pudding,” to which I included the elements of the drink. I also made sure to use a delicious loaf of braided Challah bread to represent her Jewish roots. And, of course, in an attempt to honor her unique style and signature hair, I topped off each hot mess of a serving with a torched meringue “beehive.”
The decadent dessert turned out velvety, rich and smooth… lusciously resembling the same undeniable qualities of Amy’s gorgeous, soulful voice. The dish may not even come close to doing justice to the ingenious musical stylings of Amy’s legacy, but the thought and process of preparing it and enjoying it was a great (and delicious) way to channel my grief while honoring the ever beautiful and exceptionally talented artist who I so adored and whose music I’ll forever cherish.
Banana Liqueured Bread Pudding
Inspired by: Amy Winehouse & the “Rickstasy”
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse‘s “Bananas Foster Bread Pudding“
½ cup unsalted butter
1½ cups light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
6 firm-ripe bananas, cut into ¾ slices
¼ cup banana liqueur
¼ cup vanilla vodka
¼ cup peach bourbon
4 large eggs
3 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup Irish cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
–recipe yield: about 10-12 servings
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 10×14” ovenproof dish. Using a serrated knife, slice bread into rough cubes, collecting about 6 cups of the cubed bread to be used for the pudding.Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, eventually stirring in 1 cup of brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger until dissolved and combined (about 2 minutes). Add banana slices and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring and flipping the bananas to brown each side evenly. Stir in banana liqueur and allow to combine and warm through. Carefully add vodka and bourbon and shake to incorporate and flame the pan. Continue to gently shake the pan until the flame dies. Take skillet off heat to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining brown sugar, cream, milk, Irish cream, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the cooled fruit mixture and the cubed bread, tossing to coat. Transfer entire mixture to prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until firm. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.
To serve, scoop warm bread pudding onto individual dishes, topped with a “beehive” mound of vanilla meringue, if desired.