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Yes, another food diary, and yes, another Vietnamese dish.

This time, I dipped my toes into Vietnamese desserts (well, not literally, because that would be gross). Last night, I tried my hand at bánh chuối nướng, a kind of baked banana cake or pudding (it's kind of both and neither). To my despair, I couldn't eat it last night, since it needed to set in the refrigerator overnight. But it was well worth the wait and made a very sweet breakfast this morning. It certainly blows western banana bread right out of the water. And the good news is that, unlike some Vietnamese dishes, this is actually quite simple to make.

Here are the ingredients you'll need:

- Bananas, obviously. If you want to be super authentic, you can use about eight Asian dwarf bananas, which are sweeter than western bananas. If you're too lazy (like your diarist) to go find Asian dwarf bananas, you can use about four or five western bananas. The bananas will need to be cut into about quarter-inch slices. For variety's sake, I cut mine into both horizontal and vertical slices, but it doesn't really matter.

- About three tablespoons of sugar. If you're using Asian dwarf bananas, cut this down to a tablespoon or two.

- Two tablespoons of rum. It's optional, but it makes the dish taste so good. I'm using Malibu Caribbean Rum with Coconut Liqueur, which works just perfectly for this particular dish.

- Two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk.

- A cup of coconut milk.

- Six pieces of white sandwich bread.

- Two tablespoons of melted butter.

- A pinch of salt.

The first thing you'll want to do is add the sugar and rum to the chopped bananas.

Shake it and/or stir it up very carefully (you don't want to break or mash the bananas). Make sure the sugar and rum are coating all of the bananas.

Set the banana mixture aside for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in a bowl.

Mix it up.

If you're wondering what we're going to do with the bread, this is where it comes in. Cut the crust off of the bread slices.

Break the soft part of the bread into little pieces and add to the coconut milk mixture.

Stir well.

Set this aside for about 15 minutes.

Now it's time to put all of it together in a pan. Use about half of the melted butter to grease the bottom of the pan.

When it comes to putting the mixtures into the pan, there are a couple of ways to do it. You can add a layer of chopped bananas, add a layer of bread mixture, and repeat. Or, you can do what I did and add about two-thirds of the bananas to the bread mixture. The other third will be used to top the cake. If you go this route, again, be very careful when stirring the bananas in, as you want them to keep their shape.

Whatever method you use, fill up the pan.

Add the remaining third of the bananas to the top. These, in my opinion, are the best part of the cake. That sugar and rum mixture will caramelize the bananas in the oven and taste wonderful.

Drizzle the remaining butter over the top and put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or so. Watch it closely, though, as it will burn easily. You want it to be a nice golden brown.

Unfortunately, that's not the end of it. Now, you'll need to let it cool down and put it in the refrigerator overnight. I know, it's torture. But the wait is worth it, I promise.

In the end, this is what you'll be left with:

I now realize that the pan I used was a little too big, because the cake should be thicker than this. So if you make it, be sure to use a smaller pan. I'll do that next time, but despite being a little thin, it tastes amazing. And I guess that's what really matters.

Chúc ngon miệng!


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