A while ago, Bill asked if I could make banana ice cream.
I said I'd probably need to add some sort of banana flavoring to it, because bananas don't usually impart a lot of flavor.
I put it on the back burner and went about my usual stuff - sourdough and TWD and kittens and all that.
And then the other day I thought of what I could do, and this post is the result.
Bananas Foster (which I've riffed on before and posted about) is a yummy, fancy-schmancy way to showcase bananas and put rum in your dessert. Right? And traditionally it's served over vanilla ice cream, right?
Well then! The next step seemed obvious - I could make a Bananas Foster-flavored ice cream.
And, since I like pecans, I thought I'd add some to the ice cream and I could make some sort of brittle for a garnish.
So. First things first.
For the "Foster" aspect, I assembled the following:
4 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup (approximately - I used more because I had a little bit left in the bag and figured I'd just use it all up) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 bananas, sliced into coins about a third to a half an inch thick.
2 T banana liquour
4 T dark rum - I used Myers.
First, I melted the butter and sugar together in a pan.
(Sorry about the ugly flash e ffect - it was too dark for natural lighting in this part of the kitchen.)
I let the butter sugar mixture cook together for a minute or so, and then I added in the pecans and cooked for a few more minutes.
And next I added the bananas and cooked them for a few minutes, spooning some of the caramel over them so they'd be completely coated.
I also added the banana liquour when I put the bananas in. When the bananas were starting to brown and were getting nice and soft, I poured in the rum. Ideally I would have lit the rum on fire at this point, but I think my pan was too cool or I didn't hit it with the lighter fast enough - no flame. So I just simmered it for a while to cook out the harshness of the alcohol, and when the mixture tasted the way I wanted it, I turned off the heat and got started on the ice cream base.
I thought I'd do a quick and easy ice cream base, so I mixed a cup and a half of sour cream and a cup and a half of heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer (my food processor parts were in the dishwasher) until smooth.
Then I thought about the next step. I could just leave the base as it was, maybe add in some vanilla or something, make the ice cream and THEN stir in the whole caramelized portion, OR I could flavor this with some of the caramelized bananas now, make the ice cream, and stir in the rest of the caramelized stuff.
I went with the latter option. I removed about 6-8 pieces of banana and some of the caramel glop (but none of the pecans) to use in the ice cream base. The rest finished cooling and went into the fridge for later.
I added the above banana mixture to the sour cream mixture, combined with the paddle, and the put the whole mess through a strainer to get out the bits of banana.
I chilled the base for about an hour and then ran it through the ice cream machine. When it had set up nicely, I scraped it out of the ice cream machine bowl and into a plastic container. I stirred the banana/nut/caramel mixture into the ice cream base a bit and put the whole thing into the freezer.
That was last night.
Today I made my garnish.
I cooked some sugar to the hard crack stage (about 320 degrees F)
and poured that over some pecan halves on a silpat.
I was a little impatient about it hardening. I know it takes time, but I wanted to get the final pictures taken toDAY in good light. Yeah, it's all about the art now.
Anyway, I let it sit for a while and then I thought (in my impatience) that it should maybe have some kind of shape to it. so I stuck a couple of small rolling pins under the silpat.
Every so often I'd lift up an edge of the sugar to see if it had hardened yet. I was careful not to leave fingerprints on the shiny top side. And no, it hadn't hardened. I'd watch in frustration as the edge of caramel gently fell back to the silpat.
Part of the problem was today's weather. Warm and humid. Ugh. I know how the sugar felt. Droopy and damp and lethargic. So, since I didn't want to wait til November to crack the large free-form sugar mass into shards, I put the whole thing into the fridge. Yes, it's humid in there, too, but it's cold, and that was what I was aiming for.
About ten minutes later, the brittle was brittle. I removed the rolling pins, and the hills and valleys of sugar remained where they were. Yay!
So I whacked it with a rolling pin.
That's so much fun.
I put the tray back in the fridge so the shards would stay crisp, and then I took the ice cream out of the freezer so it could warm up while I got everything else ready to go.
Here's how it looked:
I know. It's not all that pretty. But. Looks aren't everything.
I ended up microwaving the ice cream for a bit (about 30 seconds) to soften it enough so I could start scooping it out for my pictures. And so I could taste it. No - I hadn't tasted it yet. I know - hard to believe, isn't it?
It tasted...well, it tasted like Bananas Foster and ice cream, all blended together. I got bits of actual banana, and they tasted like - you guessed it! - banana. The dark, caramel flavor of the cooked sugar was a nice contrast to the mild/sweet banana flavor, and to the cool, creamy texture of the ice cream base.
No one else has tasted this yet - I'll be dishing some up after dinner tonight. I think Bill will like it. Not so sure about the kids. But we'll see.
I'm pleased with how it came out. And with how simple it was.
So, next time you've got a couple extra bananas kicking around, instead of baking a loaf of banana bread...make ice cream!