- Look for sweet plantains that are almost completely black on the exterior. If purchased while still yellow, store in a brown paper bag until they turn.
- Latin American crema is available in many supermarkets and specialty supermarkets. If you can't find, combine 1 3/4 cups sour cream with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon lime juice.
- 8 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups Latin American crema (see note)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 5 large ripe sweet plantains (see note)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
In medium bowl, combine cheese, sugar, and cinnamon; reserve. In second medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons crema and cornstarch until cornstarch is dissolved. Stir in remaining crema; reserve.
With chef’s knife or serrated knife, trim and discard extreme ends of sweet plantains. Score each one lengthwise.
Remove and discard peel. Slice sweet plantains on the bias into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Arrange about 1/3 of sweet plantain slices in single layer and cook until softened and deep brown, turning carefully with spatula, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to large plate and season with salt. Repeat with remaining sweet plantains.
Spread 1/2 cup crema in bottom of 8- by 8-inch baking dish. Arrange 1/3 of sweet plantains in single layer on top, then sprinkle 1/4 of cheese on top. Repeat procedure with remaining crema, cheese, and sweet plantains, finishing with cheese.
Bake until bubbling and browned on top, about 20 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to rest about 10 minutes before serving.
chef’s knife or serrated knife, large skillet, spatula, 8- by 8-inch baking dish, cooling rack