There’s nothing better to eat on Mardi Gras than these Pastry Crowns filled with Cheesecake Mousse and Glazed Banana Bits! Have a chance to show off your baking skills and impress everyone with the flavor of these delicious sweets!
Giving up sweets during Lent was a pretty standard practice in my family when I was young, so on Fat Tuesday I always made sure to fill my belly with indulgent desserts, knowing how much I’d miss them for the forty days that would follow.
Having a wicked sweet tooth made this period of abstinence very challenging for me. I spent a lot of time dreaming of the goodies that would fill my Easter basket and that eased some of the pain. Yes, I said pain.
I completely get why revelers take to the streets of New Orleans for one last hurrah the day before Lent fully aware of their upcoming time of self-denial. I think everyone deserves to indulge in a tempting dessert any day of the year, but particularly on Fat Tuesday, so I created these little crown shaped pastries to satisfy your desire for pie (the crust), cheesecake (the filling), and even bananas foster (the topping).
Last week when I was making the pastry crown cut-outs to top my gumbo, I wondered if I could make a 3 dimensional pastry crown. To my delight, it worked and was pretty easy. I simply cut strips out of the pie dough and cut some triangles out along the top edge. Wrapped around a mini muffin tin for support, my crowns baked up beautifully with deep golden brown points.
As I was making my crowns, I began to wonder about the significance of this Mardi Gras symbol, so I took to the Internet to do some research. I learned that celebrations preceding Lent including parades and balls have been going on in New Orleans since the 1800’s. In the beginning, these celebrations were impromptu and haphazard parties in the streets.
In 1857 a group of men formed what is called a Krewe and brought order to this debauchery by producing the first nighttime carnival parade. In 1872, Russia’s Grand Duke Alexis Romanov was set to visit the city, and another Krewe, Rex, formed and set out to host a parade during the day with the goal of enchanting the the Russian Duke as well as the residents of New Orleans.
That first year, they selected their own King of Carnival to reside over this parade and in keeping with that tradition a new king is selected each year and he dons majestic robes, wears a crown, and carries a scepter at the parade. Many of the trinkets that are thrown out to the crowd during the festive parades feature the symbolic crown.
Although I set out to create a very simple dessert using these pie crust crowns, I got carried away. I realize that my diminutive crowns could be served with any number of sweet fillings, but I decided to re-create a classic New Orleans dessert, Bananas Foster which features bananas cooked in a brown sugar butter sauce then Flambéed in rum and served over ice cream. Wanting these pastries to be able to sit on a buffet table during a party, I knew ice cream was out, so I concocted a cheesecake mousse by cooking a custard on the stove and blending it with cream cheese and whipped cream. I have to admit that I keep sneaking into my refrigerator, spoon in hand, unable to resist this sweet temptation. Lucky for me, I don’t need to save these for a party. If you don’t make this entire dessert, I highly recommend you try making just the cheesecake mousse. I am positive that if you enjoy cheesecake you will love this mousse.
To top off this rich yet light and airy mousse filling, I caramelized banana bits in a rich banana rum infused caramel sauce. I used banana rum, because I love it’s flavor, but you can use dark rum if you prefer. I chose not to flambé my bananas and think they tasted spectacular as is, but they will caramelize more and develop a richer flavor if you do flambé them. It’s up to you.
My mini crown desserts will be a great addition to your sweet offerings at your Mardi Gras celebration. I think they would also be great served as queen crowns for a fun girls night out event or even a birthday party. I know that all of my female friends would love to be treated like a queen even if only for a night.
Pastry Crowns filled with Cheesecake Mousse and topped with Glazed Banana Bits
Ingredients: Makes 24
1 box Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts, thawed according to package instructions
egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water)
optional: dragees (5MM Yellow Gold Edible Pearls or Multi-coloured – 4 mm dragees)
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1/3 cup
pinch table salt
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
Glazed Banana Bits:
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), sliced into 1/2″ pats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup banana rum or dark rum
Special equipment needed:
knife and/or pizza cutter
pastry brush or small food safe paint brush (only been used for food)
mini muffin tins (you can use 12 cavity or 24 cavity muffin tins)
hand held electric mixer
Lay pie dough on a cutting board. Cut 12 – 1 1/4″ x 6″ strips out of each sheet of dough, re-rolling dough as needed. Cut triangles out of the top edge of the pie dough. I made several different styles of crowns by changing how I cut the triangles.
Optional decorations: To add rounded tips on your crown: use a #10 pastry tip to cut small circles out of the dough. Press the smaller end of the pastry tip into the dough, turn the tip over and tap on the cutting board. Your dough circle will fall out. Brush the back of the circle with egg wash and press onto the tip of the crown.
To add gold decorations: brush a small amount of egg wash on one side of a dragee and press, egg wash side down, onto the pastry.
Brush egg wash on one edge of a crown. Optional: for a more glossy looking crown brush the entire outside of each crown with egg wash.
Form crown by setting flat edge of dough on work surface, wrap dough around so the two ends overlap by 1/8″-1/4″, press edges together. Allow egg wash to dry. Turn a mini muffin tin upside down. Set crowns over muffin cups leaving open spaces in the tin so that the pie dough has room to rise. Note: If your egg wash isn’t dry enough your crowns will stick to the muffin tin. I put 6 crowns on each 12 cavity muffin tin. Freeze crowns for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake crowns for 4-6 minutes until golden brown. Keep a close eye on the crowns as the tips will brown quickly. Allow to cool completely on tins before removing.
You may need to use a small thin knife to help release the crowns from the pan. I put the knife below the seam on my crowns and gently pressed inwards and upwards. The crowns came right off the pan. If you’ve added dragees, don’t pick up the crowns touching the dragess or they may fall off.
If you don’t have enough muffin tins to accommodate all 24 crowns, allow the tins to cool before adding more crowns. You can store your crowns in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Combine 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons sugar, and pinch of salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure all the sugar dissolves. Continue to heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in an additional 1/2 cup of cold heavy whipping cream. Place 3 egg yolks in a mixing bowl and lightly whisk. Slowly drizzle in the warm cream while continually whisking the egg yolks. Note: If you add too much too quickly, you will scramble your eggs, so go slowly at first. Pour back into saucepan and heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly until custard thickens and reaches 170-175 degrees. You will know your custard is ready when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in vanilla extract. Set at room temperature for 15 minutes then transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes to cool (or you can fill a large bowl with ice water and set the custard bowl in it, stirring the custard until it cools.)
Use an electric hand held mixer to beat 8 ounces of cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar together. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps or cooked egg yolks into the bowl of cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy.
Whisk or beat with electric mixer the remaining 1 cup heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into custard mixture. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 5 days.
Glazed Banana Bits:
Place butter in a 12″ skillet and heat over medium low heat until melted. Add brown sugar and continually whisk until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add bananas and banana rum. Cook until bananas begin to caramelize and soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Note: If you would like to flambé your bananas, add the bananas and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then remove pan from heat. Add rum and swirl it around the pan for 5 seconds to warm it slightly. Light a long match and hover the match over the pan to ignite the rum.
Allow flame to completely die out, then stir bananas and allow to cool slightly.
To serve: set one, two, or three crowns on a dessert plate. Spoon 2 tablespoons of cheesecake mousse into each crown. (I filled a disposable pastry bag with the mousse and piped it into the crowns.) Top with about a tablespoonful of glazed banana bits. Serve.
My husband commented on how much easier they were to eat than he imagined. A spoon breaks right through the pastry crown exposing the luscious filling and making it simple to scoop up and enjoy.