To make banana ice cream. I came across this recipe while flipping through cookbooks over the holidays. At first, I thought "Banana ice cream? Gross." The more I thought about it, the more I thought I had to try it. Plus, since I love Mexican food so much, I was super excited to use piloncillo (silly me). Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking to fit in a household blender and ice cream maker.
3 tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup piloncillo, grated*
6 bananas, extremely ripe, peeled, then frozen (or more if you want to make it chunky)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (you may not need it all)
2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
*Piloncillo (also called panela) is a sugar used in Central and South America. It comes in packages with a few brown colored cones of sugar. Look for it in the fresh produce section of your grocery store near the dried chiles. If they don't have it, substitute dark brown sugar, muscovado, or jaggery.
1. In a small saucepan, combine the water and cinnamon stick. Simmer over medium-low heat until the cinnamon stick is fragrant (about 3 minutes). Add the sugar of choice and stir until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken into a syrup. Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon stick, and cool the syrup (at least to room temperature. I suggest sticking it in the fridge overnight so that everything you add to the ice cream maker will be cold).
2. When ready to make the ice cream, remove the bananas from the freezer and chop well (dime-sized chunks).
3. Add 1/2 cup cream, cooled sugar syrup and a handful of the chopped bananas to your blender. Blend until completely smooth, slowly adding more bananas as your blender can handle them. If the blender starts making funny noises and sounds strained, turn it off, stir the mixture (remove some if needed), add a little more cream and proceed.
4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. This shouldn't take more than 5 minutes since everything going into the ice cream maker was already cold or frozen. Add the pecans in the last minute of mixing. If you want chunks of banana, chop up another frozen banana (or two) and add them with the pecans.
5. Serve immediately or cover and put in the freezer. For the "adult-version," drizzle your scoop of ice cream with Kahlúa.
Incredibly creamy with a delicious banana flavor.
Discussion and Future Directions
This is the best banana anything I've ever had (excluding banana bread). What is so incredible about this recipe is that it is mostly banana. However, it was a huge pain to make. To get 3/4 cup of grated piloncillo, I stood at the counter grating piloncillo for one hour (not an exaggeration. I've never seen my bicep as big as it was when I was done. It was quite a workout). Truthfully, I'm worried I dulled my Microplane® grater. I want to make this again (because it's delicious), but there has to be a better way. The easiest way would be to use dark brown sugar instead of piloncillo because it's already ready to go. But, the flavor of piloncillo is unique and might be what gives this recipe the extra "umph." The flavor of the syrup reminded me of honey, but thinner (until I refrigerated it and it recrystallized). Anyway, I'd try to hammer the piloncillo cones into chunks (seriously, with hammer) and then dissolve the chunks in simmering water to make the syrup.
The next problem was blending everything together. I reduced the amount of banana and increased the amount of cream from the original recipe because it was like concrete in my blender (my brand new blender overheated in less than 2 minutes). So, follow the instructions and be prepared to turn off, unplug and let your blender cool down when the mixture gets thick.
Then! More troubles! Because the mixture freezes so quickly, and water expands as it freezes, I had an ice cream volcano coming out of my ice cream maker. I love science (obviously) and think volcano experiments are awesome, but not all over my kitchen appliances! So, I reduced the number of bananas in the recipe. Pay close attention as you're freezing the mixture to make sure it will fit (and add your blended mixture slowly). If you need to, freeze it in two batches (don't worry--your ice cream maker will still be cold enough).
Despite the troubles, I would absolutely try making this again (plus, the Kahlúa at the end helped me forget how much of a pain it was to make)! If you don't like pecans, or prefer your ice cream to be smooth, leave them out. It's perfect without or without pecans. If you like your ice cream chunky, add some extra frozen banana chunks at the end. Make it how you like it. The star of this dessert is the ripe banana. In spite of the small quantity of cream compared to most ice creams, it's quite amazing that the texture is so smooth and creamy. The kahlúa adds a nice coffee flavor and makes this the ideal breakfast food (don't judge--somehow I didn't get around to eating breakfast until 4 pm today. I love Saturdays)!