In the Mystery Box that contained duck and a banana, there were, among other things, mascarpone, peanuts, puff pastry, Fresno chile, and marjoram. Monti Carlo took a noticeably unorthodox approach to her ingredients by focusing on the banana. She quartered it, then sautéed it in butter flavored with Fresno chile. Then she slathered squares of unbaked puff pastry with a little mascarpone, sprinkled on peanuts, and rolled a piece of fried banana inside each square.
Basted with an egg wash and baked till golden and puffy, sprinkled with diced Fresno chile and fresh marjoram leaves, it was… interesting looking. Pretty and golden, but with no indication what was inside. Don't worry, just take a bite while it's still warm.
The banana and mascarpone meld into a creamy filling, the Fresno chile adds a mildly fruity kick, and the peanuts add crunch and an earthier flavor. It's an unexpectedly good dessert from a jumble of Mystery Box ingredients, and no one was more surprised at its success than Monti herself!
Banana & Peanut Stuffed Puff Pastry With Sweet Mascarpone Cheese
(Makes 4 servings)
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 Fresno chile pepper, finely diced (wear plastic gloves when handling)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed and chilled
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup shelled peanuts, toasted and finely chopped
3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh marjoram
1 large egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, then sprinkle 1/4 cup of the sugar evenly over the paper and bake until the sugar is melted and deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool the sheet of caramelized sugar completely (it will become brittle when cooled). Leave the oven on, but increase the temperature to 425°F.
2. Meanwhile, combine the butter and half of the Fresno chile in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter melts but does not boil. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the chile butter and set aside. Discard the chile.
3. Peel and quarter the bananas crosswise. Heat the chile butter in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the banana pieces and cook until they soften slightly and begin to brown but do not become mushy, about 2 minutes. Transfer the banana pieces to a plate and cool completely.
4. Roll out the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface to a 14-inch square. Cut the pastry into four 7-inch squares. Spread 3 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese over the center of each piece of pastry. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Sprinkle the peanuts over each, then sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of the marjoram. Arrange the bananas in the center. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Roll up the bananas in the pastry, folding in the sides and pressing them to seal just before rolling up the pastry completely, as if making a burrito. Brush the egg over the seam and press to seal. Transfer the pastries to a baking sheet. Bake until the pastries are golden, about 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.
5. Transfer the pastries to 4 plates. Crumble the sheet of caramelized sugar and sprinkle the pieces over the pastry. Sprinkle the remaining marjoram and chile over the pastry and serve immediately.
Adapted from MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook