Tuesday, June 09, 2009
ROASTED BANANA ICE CREAM
I’m not a big fan of raw bananas (in fact, overly ripe ones kind of gross me out), but they can be really good in cooked desserts—particularly when any sort of caramelization is involved. So when I opened up The Perfect Scoop for the first time and saw this recipe, I immediately knew it had to be one the first I tried. Bananas cooked with brown sugar and butter? Yes please! The smell of them baking was amazing, and if they hadn’t been as hot as molten lava when I pulled them out of the oven, I would have been powerless to resist cramming them into my mouth right then and there instead of throwing them into the blender with the rest of the ingredients. I’m not sure the resulting ice cream is quite as delectable to me as those caramelized bananas seemed, but it’s unique and plenty delicious, with a concentrated banana flavor that seems almost more banana-y than real bananas. A little of it goes a long way for me; I nearly couldn’t finish the two-scoop bowl pictured above and have found that the ice cream actually tastes best when you sneak just a spoonful or two straight from the container. It lasts all week that way, too!
Despite its intense flavor, this ice cream is actually relatively light, made with whole milk instead of eggs and cream (or even half-and-half, like the first two ice creams I tried). But the bananas lend it a deceptive creaminess and heft, as the peanut butter did for my first ice cream (whereas my second ice cream, the lemon one, turned out fluffier and grainier). It doesn’t matter much to me one way or the other—taste is more important to me than texture in this context, and I’m still just so amazed that I can create anything resembling ice cream in my own kitchen that I’m not concerned with attaining that “real” ultra-creamy ice-cream texture; if I were, I’d switch to custard-based recipes—but it’s interesting to see how different ingredients affect the outcome. Kitchen chemistry!
Like the others I’ve tried, this non-custard-based recipe is ridiculously easy to make, especially considering all the deliciousness it yields—just bake, blend, churn, freeze, and eat. Better still, it cost next to nothing to make: I rescued the ripe bananas from being consigned to the trash in my office kitchen on Friday (the company provides us with fresh fruit and there are always leftovers at the end of the week), the whole milk was 99 cents at Trader Joe’s, and I already had the sugars and a lemon. With its rich flavor and use of an always-available fruit, this will make an especially nice wintertime ice cream (perhaps with a tablespoon of rum added to the mix?). I’d also be interested to try it with chocolate chips or chocolate sauce to cut/complement the banananess.
I now have my very own copy of A Perfect Scoop in my hot little hands (it's on sale on Amazon, ahem), so expect my ice cream experiments to continue until the weather gets too hot for our freezer to keep ice cream frozen!
3 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark, because that’s what I had)
1 tablespooon butter, salted or unsalted, cut into small pieces
1½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons granualted sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice the bananas into ½-inch-thick pieces and toss them with the brown sugar and butter in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring just once halfway through, until bananas are browned and cooked through.
3. Scrape all the contents of the baking dish (the bananas and the thick syrup) into a blender or food processor. Add the milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and puree until smooth (be sure you close the lid tightly first!).
4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the mixture has thickened during chilling, just give it a little stir to thin it back out before pouring it into the ice cream maker.)
Yield: About 1 quart (6–8 servings)
Time: 50 minutes, plus chilling and processing time
Leftover potential: Good