June 13, 2011

Banana "ice cream" really works!

Aside from eating out (preferably with family or others I really enjoy hanging out with), my favorite hobbies are reading, watching cooking shows, perusing food magazines and cookbooks, and visiting a handful of food blogs.  I have some other hobbies but those stand out the most...

While doing a couple of these favorite things recently, something grabbed my attention and peaked my curiosity.  I watched a cooking show host make banana ice cream and didn't think too much of it at first but then I also saw this post on thekitchn.com.  The crucial part being it's banana "ice cream" made with just one thing: banana! 

OK, not that I'm a huge fan of banana ice cream per se but the idea of making "ice cream" from just banana is pretty interesting.  I was wondering if it'd really work and have the taste and texture of ice cream.  So I finally got around to it a few days ago and I have to say, it's fascinating because the frozen banana really turns into/tastes like ice cream!  All you have to do is freeze it and give it a blitz in the food processor.  It's a very healthy alternative to real ice cream.  I'm going to be honest and admit that, all things equal, I'd rather have the real thing but it was good enough to make again and you just can't beat the nutritional value and simplicity of it.

Here is the pure banana "ice cream", with nothing added, just plain right out of the food processor in all its soft-serve goodness. 
And then I couldn't resist playing with it a bit so I also made it with unsweetened cocoa powder and chocolate-hazelnut (Nutella) spread thrown in.  I know adding all the extras takes away from the pureness but I just couldn't help myself.  I was thinking of all those crepes with banana and nutella that my husband likes to order.  If you freeze the ice cream for a few hours, you can scoop it like regular ice cream.  Here it is with a sprinkling of chocolate on top.

Making the banana ice cream is very easy if you have a food processor.  I think it should work in a blender too. 

The one ingredient:
Slice bananas into about 1-inch thick slices and freeze for about 2 hours or so. 
Plop frozen banana pieces into the food processor and start it up. 
You'll need to stop a few times and push the frozen banana pieces around a bit.  Then before you know it, it turns creamy and viola, you have banana ice cream!
Yes, it tastes like banana and it's cold and smooth just like ice cream.  It's a  great way to have soft serve ice cream at home.  If you prefer it more like regular ice cream, put it into a container and freeze for a few hours and it'll be firm enough to scoop.

And for those of us who just can't help fiddling with things, here's how to make my banana-nutella version.  When the frozen bananas have just turned smooth in the food processor, add some unsweetened cocoa powder and nutella spread.  I was feeling a little guilty about adding this extra stuff so I used the cocoa powder and nutella pretty sparingly the first time; I was not as shy the second time around.
I placed the ice cream into a plastic container to keep in the freezer and couldn't wait to see what my husband thought of it.  I talked my son into a quick taste and he said that he "likes it a little bit."  There was still banana flavor here and he definitely prefers complete chocolate. 
My husband really likes it!  He's the big fan of banana & nutella crepes.  The more I eat it, the more I like and appreciate it too.  What really fascinates me is the texture - icy, cold, and smooth.  Very authentic.  And a little bit goes a long way since it leaves you feeling full.  I had a second batch made and in the freezer before I even had the chance to post this entry.
If you want to play with flavors, there are so many possibilities.  Add a little bit of honey or maple syrup, stir in some walnuts or chocolate chips.  You can use peanut butter or stir in melted chocolate...

The recipe:

Banana "ice cream"

- Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups -

2 1/2 bananas, soft but not overly ripe

1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons Nutella spread

1) Slice banana into about 1-inch thick pieces and place on a freezer-proof plate.  Freeze for about 2 hours or so.

2) Drop frozen banana pieces into food processor and blend, spreading out and pushing down the bananas as necessary until it turns creamy.  Don't overblend in case it turns watery.  Serve immediately or place into a container and store in the freezer.

For Nutella-Banana "ice cream":

Follow steps 1 and 2.  When bananas turn creamy, add the unsweetened cocoa powder and Nutella spread.  (You can play around with the proportions depending on how you like it).  Mix until just combined.

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