I was a chubby child, which is why my mother did not stock the house with cookies and crackers for me to snack on after school.
So instead, in the afternoons I made myself the closest thing to dessert I could out of the healthy bits and pieces in the house: bananas tossed in homemade yogurt and sprinkled with just a little granulated sugar. In summer, I was equally creative in my attempts to replicate a sweet treat — a glass of Tang and a McVitie's digestive cookie.
And those two snacks served as inspiration for this recipe, an afterschool snack that has a lot of meaning to me.
I still remember the first time I had banoffee (banana and toffee, get it?) pie, a beloved dessert in the United Kingdom. My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Tarbot — normally a rather tight-lipped, stern woman — in an unusual bout of kindness made us some banoffee on the last day of school.
I was astounded that something as simple as a McVitie's digestive cookie-crust, a long-cooked can of condensed milk, bananas and whipped cream could taste so divine. Ever since, banoffee pie has tasted like kindness and innocence to me. What could be more perfect for an afterschool snack, especially when you replace the whipped cream with protein-rich Greek yogurt?
One note about the shining star of this dish: the toffee. I prefer the flavour of the traditional method — submerging a tin of sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan of water, then simmering it for a couple hours, topping up the water as needed. If you'd rather speed it up, melt a stick of butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Add the can of sweetened condensed milk and boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until very thick. Set aside to cool and use as directed in the recipe.
BANOFFEE PARFAITS WITH SALTED TOFFEE
Digestive "biscuits" (cookies, really) usually can be found in the British or international aisle of the grocer. If you can't find them, substitute graham crackers or granola.
Start to finish: 3 hours 20 minutes (20 minutes active)
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a little extra to finish
Two 7-ounce containers 2 per cent plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 digestive cookies (such as McVitie's), roughly crumbled
3 to 4 bananas, cut into thick or thin rounds, depending on your preference
Remove the label from the can of sweetened condensed milk, but do not open the can. Set the can in a medium sauce and add enough water to cover the can by about 1 inch. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 2 hours, adding water to maintain the level as needed. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool until easily handled.
Once the can is cool, open and transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, then set aside.
In another small bowl, stir together the yogurt and vanilla. Set aside.
Using 4 parfait glasses or 6-ounce canning jars, assemble the parfaits. For each parfait, start with a layer of crumbled cookies. Top with about 2 tablespoons of toffee, then 1/4 cup of yogurt, then a layer of banana slices. Repeat the layering, ending with banana slices. Finish the parfaits with a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of toffee and a few cookie crumbs. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 520 calories; 110 calories from fat (21 per cent of total calories); 12 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 40 mg cholesterol; 340 mg sodium; 89 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 72 g sugar; 18 g protein.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Network star Aarti Sequeira is the author of "Aarti Paarti: An American Kitchen with an Indian Soul." She blogs at http://www.AartiPaarti.com .