Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recipe: Brown Sugar and Banana Ice Cream

Just a few short weeks ago, I unexpectedly found myself in possession of a "vintage" ice cream maker (read more about that here), and immediately started researching recipes. When I read this article on the ReadyMade website, I knew I'd found a recipe worthy of my first batch of ice cream. The article is packed with great flavor combinations, but I instantly zeroed in on the Brown Sugar and Banana Ice Cream recipe. Anything that's described as "a delightful variation on Bananas Foster" is right up my alley.

I had my ice cream maker, I'd selected a recipe, and I was ready to get down to business. I thought I'd buy some rock salt and be ready to go, but I soon discovered this was not going to be a one-shot process. Most ice cream recipes involve cooking and chilling a custard before the ice-cream-to-be even makes it into the machine; luckily, a finished custard can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days if necessary. I ended up making the custard on a Wednesday and churning it on a Friday. While I did have to give up the thrill of immediate ice cream gratification, in the end it made more sense to spread out the process over a couple of days. 

I don't often make a recipe exactly as written, but this time I thought I'd better stick to the script. This was my first-ever ice cream and I wanted to make sure it turned out well!

Recipe: Brown Sugar and Banana Ice Cream
(As seen in ReadyMade)

1 medium ripe banana
¼ c plus 1¾ c whole milk
½ c plus ½ c firmly packed brown sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground cardamom (I had to substitute allspice)
1 t ground nutmeg
⅛ t salt
4 large egg yolks
2 c whipping cream
1 t vanilla

Combine the banana and 1/4 cup of the milk in a food processor.

Puree until smooth. Combine the banana puree with the rest of the milk, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, and the rest of the dry ingredients in a saucepan.

Heat nearly to a boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and whisk until light and fluffy.

A little at a time, begin to add to hot puree to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Keep whisking untl combined.

Return the custard to the stove and heat over medium-low for five more minutes, stirring until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

(At this point, the ReadyMade recipe says you should remove the pan from the heat and place in a bowl of ice water to quickly cool the custard. It then advises you to let the custard cool, stirring often, for 5 minutes.  Apparently I missed this paragraph entirely and proceeded to the next step. My ice cream was delicious anyway.)

Combine cream and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in the custard mixture, then cover with plastic wrap and press the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard (this prevents it from forming a "skin" while it chills). Refrigerate until completely chilled, a few hours or up to a few days.

At this point, you would use your own ice cream maker's instructions to finish the process. Mine involved presoaking the big wooden bucket so that the wood swells to fill any cracks.  This takes A LOT of water.

(Don't worry, I poured all this water over my herbs later so it didn't go to waste.)

I transferred my chilled custard into the metal bowl of my ice cream maker, then attached it to the bottom of the (now empty) bucket. After adding the appropriate amount of ice and salt, I was ready to go.

Unfortunately, I was not working with properly sized ice cubes.  Foolishly, I'd imagined that it wouldn't really matter whether my ice was crushed.  Oh guess what?  It does.  The bowl stopped turning soon after I'd started the cycle - according to my manufacturer's instructions, this was because... you guessed it... my ice cubes were too big.

I'd undertaken this process on a weekend when my parents happened to be visiting (I thought it only appropriate that they get to sample the first batch of ice cream, since they'd been so considerate in hanging on to the ice cream maker for the last 25 years or so). When the churning stopped, my mom was very concerned that I was going to burn out the motor and begun stabbing at the ice with a wooden spoon. I was trying to clear ice with my hands while the violent stabbing was taking place, but luckily was not injured. Our crisis was averted when I consulted the instruction manual (imagine that!) and discovered that pouring a cup of water over the ice cubes would help clear the blockage. Just like magic, the bowl began to turn again and the rest of the churning proceeded unhindered by either ice chunks or the stabbing of wooden spoons.

After 40 minutes or so, my ice cream was ready.

At this point the ice cream will still be a little soft, so you'll want to freeze it in an airtight container for a few hours before serving. (Don't worry, if you need an ice cream fix right away you can lick the beater. Or whatever it's called in an ice cream maker.)

After a short stint in the freezer, my ice cream was thick, creamy, and very scoopable. All the spices and brown sugar created a denser flavor than a standard store-bought ice cream, but I was disappointed that the banana was barely detectable. In fact, mom guessed that the flavor was vanilla bean, and was quite persistent in telling me she could taste the vanilla bean despite there being absolutely no vanilla bean in this recipe.

Even though this ice cream didn't exactly turn out as 'bananatastic' as I'd hoped, it was still quite good. I'll file this recipe away for future experimentation, and in the meantime, I'm going to keep trying for an ice cream that really does taste like bananas foster!

1 comment:

  1. Serve the ice cream with bananas on top, and it's PERFECT!!!