For this month’s installment of 5 Star Makeover hosted by Natasha, the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! we were given a more broad assignment than in previous months – Gourmet Picnic Food, in anticipation of the Memorial Day holiday. I had just as much fun coming up with my entry for this month as I did in challenges past. For those who might have missed my previous months’ challenges of Bacon and Eggs and Sustainable Seafood, the goal of the group is to create gourmet makeovers of classic dishes or flavor combinations.
Immediately when we got wind of the assignment I knew I wanted to do a playful take on the sandwich, since they were always a mainstay of the picnics we had growing up. Ours were classically American – cold cuts and deli cheese with lettuce and tomato, all tucked in between thick slices of bakery bread that had been lacquered with a generous spread of Miracle Whip. But this time I opted for something radically different – a sweet sandwich that could satisfy a craving for breakfast or dessert.
To create my sandwich, I started with two generous slices of homemade Banana-Oatmeal Bread, adapted from Cooking Light. Then, to continue the sweet flavors, I filled my sandwich with thin slices of ripe strawberries and the star of the dish, a rich and creamy chocolate goat cheese spread.
Yes, you heard that right, chocolate goat cheese spread. Its inspiration was Westfield Farm’s Chocolate Capri. I’ve long been won over by the pairing of these two seemingly odd bedfellows (I’ve made both brownies with goat cheese and chocolate whoopie pies with goat cheese, just to test the theory.) so as soon as I heard about the Chocolate Capri, I knew I wanted to create my own version. And this Chocolate Goat cheese spread absolutely delivers! A simple combination of unsweetened chocolate (Use the best quality you can get your hands on.), soft goat cheese, half and half, and powdered sugar, it yields a decadent spread that perfectly balances the richness of the chocolate with the creaminess of the cheese. The end result is just barely sweet – I use just enough powdered sugar to add body and offset the bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate – so that you don’t lose the characteristic tang of the cheese.
Not to hijack the attention away from the other components of this sandwich, but I think I’m in love with the Chocolate Goat Cheese Spread. Maybe it’s just a more wholesome sounding way of saying ‘frosting,’ but whatever you call it its fabulous and versatile. I’ve already been thinking that it would be lovely tucked inside a crepe in place of Nutella or made into a sweet cheese ball for the holidays and rolled in pistachios, cocoa nibs, or chopped dried cherries. Or what about piped on top of a banana cupcake or spread on a bagel? Or more simply, just licked off a spoon. Seriously, the possibilities seem endless.
But jumping back to it’s current application, it was a perfect filling for the sandwich. The slight tanginess of the spread was nicely offset by the pungent sweetness of my perfectly ripe strawberries. And bananas and chocolate always pair well in my book so the bread worked wonderfully in this application. I especially liked how the inclusion of the oats in the bread made it a tad heartier than a standard banana bread, but without losing its characteristic moist texture. I think the only thing I was hungering for was a bit of crunch so if I made this again, I would probably mix some coarsely chopped pistachios into the filling. I’ve also been thinking that it would be adorable made into little tea sandwiches with the help of some cookie cutters.
Thanks again to Natasha, the 5 Star Foodie & Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks! for hosting. This challenge was a lot of fun and I cannot wait to see what the others created and to see what next month holds. Do check out their blogs on Friday to see the wrap ups.
-2 slices Banana-Oatmeal Bread
-1/4 cup Chocolate Goat Cheese Spread, room temperature
-1/4 cup sliced strawberries
Spread 1/2 of the Chocolate Goat Cheese Spread on each piece of Banana-Oatmeal Bread. Top with sliced strawberries. Press the strawberry and chocolate topped slices together and slice as desired.
-4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
-6 ounces fresh goat cheese (Chavrie and Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery are two of my favorites)
-3 tablespoons half and half
-6 tablespoons powdered sugar
Place the chocolate to a microwave safe bowl along with the shortening. Microwave on 50% power for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted. Set aside and allow to cool for a couple minutes to bring down the temperature.
Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and whip with a handheld or stand mixer until creamy and well combined. Add chocolate and whip until smooth and well combined. Texture should be like a thick butter cream frosting. Serve at room temperature or make ahead up to 4 days, and allow to come to room temperature before serving. (Alternatively if you are impatient you can stick it in a microwave on 50% power for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until it is a soft, spreadable consistency.)
Adapted from Cooking Light
Yields 18 slices
-1 cup packed brown sugar
-7 tablespoons canola oil
-2 large egg whites
-1 large egg
-1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas
-1 cup rolled oats
-1/2 cup fat free milk
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat well at medium speed of a mixer. Combine banana, oats, and milk; add to sugar mixture, beating well. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir with a whisk. Add to sugar mixture; beat just until moist. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.