Plantain Shortcake with Caramelized Bananas, Dates and Walnuts

The earliest version of shortcake was created by the Native Americans and introduced to early American settlers, although it wouldn’t be until the mid 1800’s that the strawberry shortcake as we know it was created. Shortcake, a scone or biscuit-like pastry, gets it’s name from the adding of shortening or butter to a dough made of milk, flour, baking powder, sugar and eggs. Calling a baking lard or fat shortening comes from the term “to shorten” a 15th century term which meant, “easily crumbled”. Probably because it’s fibers were short, unlike bread.

During the year 1850, strawberry short cake parties were popular in the Unites States, especially while welcoming the summer every year. Well, why not welcome winter holidays with a tasty little shortcake – and who says it has to be served with strawberries? Here is my take on this old-time favorite.

Plantain shortcake with caramelized bananas, dates and walnuts

2 cups unbleached flour
2-3 tablespoons raw sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
8 tablespoons (1 cube) butter
1 egg
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 ripe plantain, peeled and cubed in 1″ chunks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Meyers rum (optional)


Six ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
Six large dates, pitted and diced
Walnuts, chopped
Maple syrup


1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

preparing the shortcakesSauté plantain in butter and rum until soft. Smash plantain with fork and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder and vanilla bean seeds, stirring briskly to mix. Cut in butter to the size of peas.

Make a well in the center of the flour and whisk in the egg, heavy cream and maple syrup. Add the mashed plantain to the flour mixture, mixing until dough forms a ball. Knead at least eight turns.

Drop dough into buttered muffin tins. Chill in refrigerator for ten minutes while preheating oven to 425F. Bake for approximately 12-16 minutes, checking after 12 minutes.


Melt 2-3 tablespoons butter and 2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup in a skillet. Add sliced bananas, dates and walnuts. Cook over medium heat stirring often. As butter and syrup start to bubble, stir constantly for several minutes. Once bananas are tender and cooked through, remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes while syrup cools and thickens.


Using a wire whisk or electric hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until thickened. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until soft peaks form.

Assemble the Shortcakes

Slice a shortcake in half. Spoon some banana-date filling over the bottom half of the cake, replace the top half of the cake. Top with whipped cream and a dusting of cardamom. Repeat with the rest of the cakes. Serves 12.

How to Split and Scrape a Vanilla Bean: Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and separate it into two sections. Hold the pod at one end and then, using the flat edge of a knife, begin scraping the tiny seeds into a small bowl. Get as many of the tiny seeds as possible and then give it one last scrape.

Save the pod and make a batch of vanilla sugar. Simply fill a jar with sugar, place the pod deep into the center, and secure the lid. Let the flavor develop for several weeks then lift the lid and smell its incredible fragrance. Vanilla sugar is wonderful in custards, cookies and cakes—and as a treat in your tea or coffee.

Did you know that vanilla beans are the fruit of a fragile, climbing orchid? Native to Mexico and Central America, the Aztecs used them in xocolatl, an early version of our hot chocolate. Europeans discovered the pleasures of vanilla when Cortez, the Spanish conqueror, imported it in 1560.


If you make this recipe, snap a pic of your dish and hashtag it #kellylenihancooks. I'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

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