Friday, September 3, 2010

Banana Caramel Pecan Ice Cream

Who hasn’t had their share of ripening bananas lingering about the kitchen, nagging for attention to their urgent condition? This is about one such recent occasion for me when I turned a couple of ever darkening bananas into ice cream. And just to keep it interesting, I decided to add a swirl of toasted pecan caramel.

This ice cream is rich without being heavy. It’s got terrific banana flavor that is deliciously piqued with a good pinch of fresh nutmeg. Toasted pecans bathed in a beautifully complementary brown sugar cinnamon caramel add a punch of texture and spice in perfect harmony. A slightly salty edge to the caramel also brings an interesting interplay of sensation.

This is a very easy ice cream to make because it doesn’t require eggs or the cooking of custard. The ingredients for the ice cream get thrown into a blender or food processor to purée, which takes very little time. The pecan caramel likewise takes just about 5 minutes to produce. So consider this a pretty lazy way to enjoy some really delicious ice cream.

The next time you see those bananas calling out to you from their peak position of flavor, consider this super treat. Waste not, want not!

Bench notes:
- The ice cream base and the pecan caramel can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring the caramel to room temperature before layering with the ice cream so it’s easier to work with.
- Nutmeg was a treasured and valuable spice in New England in the 18th and 19th centuries. These days, whole nutmeg is very inexpensive and can be found fairly easily. There is nothing like freshly grated nutmeg! You just need a little grater.
- When making ice cream, always be sure your ice cream base is very chilled before putting into your machine to churn. This ensures a minimal and efficient processing time.
- To help prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface, press a piece of plastic onto the surface of the finished ice cream before putting a lid on the container and placing in the freezer.
- I like this ice cream all by itself, but it would probably cozy up to a simple piece of chocolate cake very nicely.

Banana Caramel Pecan Ice Cream

1 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
1/3 C sugar
1 T + 2 t fresh lemon juice
2 very ripe bananas
a big pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
salt, to taste

1/2 C toasted pecans
1/4 C + 2 T heavy cream
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1/8 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla
salt, to taste

Toast the pecans in a 350 degree oven for about 5 - 8 minutes or until fragrant. Cool and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Place the milk, cream, sugar, lemon juice, bananas and nutmeg in a blender or food processor and blend until the bananas are puréed and the ingredients are smoothly blended. Add salt to taste. Pour into a container, cover and chill thoroughly.

For the pecan caramel, heat the cream, brown sugar and cinnamon on medium low heat, stirring to dissolve. Bring to a boil for a minute or two. Take off the heat and add the vanilla and salt to taste. Mix in the chopped pecans. Pour into a container, cover and chill to firm up the caramel.

Freeze the ice cream according to your machine’s directions. Pour about a third of the ice cream into a clean airtight container and then dollop a layer of half the pecan caramel. Repeat with a second layer of each and then finish with any remaining ice cream. Press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface of the ice cream, cover and place in your freezer to firm up a bit.


Victoria said...

Hmm... sounds delicious. Here in Argentina we do something similar, we eat Banana ice cream with Dulce de Leche (I think that's common in the US now).

I love your blog by the way. You take great photos, and I like your recipes. I tried the Cranberry Tangerine sherbet, and the Chocolate Caramel ones and they were great!

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much for your feedback, Victoria. So glad you enjoyed them. I love making ice cream. I've been thinking for a while about what to do with Dulce de Leche that might be interesting.....

Valérie-jeanne said...

I have the perfect bananas on my kitchen counter but my ice cream maker is packed away. Moving is such a bore. As soon as I move into my new apt. and find my ice cream maker I will try it, sounds so good. Have a great weekend!

Laura said...

Your ice cream photes look so yummy! What kind of ice cream maker do you use? I'm in the market for a new one and whatever you are using sure seems to do a great job.

pastry studio said...

Hello everyone and thanks for your comments!

Laura, I use a a Cuisinart, a very simple and fairly inexpensive ice cream machine:

It's often on sale at various places for about $39. It's very easy to use and I've had it for ten years!

Julie said...

I love homemade ice cream and am always looking for new recipes. This one looks delicious and even better it uses bananas past their prime.

Sherman Unkefer said...

That looks amazing! I'm going to buy some bananas and let them ripen just to try this!

Restaurante Valerie said...

Humm this looks really good!! I sure have to try this

Jen said...

I threw this together one afternoon, and it's absolutely fabulous!

I love how quick and easy the process is, and the caramel pecan filling with a pinch of salt makes it addicting. Thanks for a wonderful idea!

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much for your generous feedback, Jen. Isn't it great when something is both easy and delicious?!

Bryan said...

greetings, :P !
couldnt agree more, this was too easy and really flavorful.
i used two dead-ripe bananas and threw in part of a third that wasnt as black as the others to round out the flavor a little.
i've had other banana ice creams that were more like sorbet-- a little icy, more intense fruit... havent liked them as much.
i prefer this version with more dairy. tasting the cream is important.

unfortunately i used the last of my pecans to make pecan butter, but used it instead of butter to finish a caramel sauce to fold in before final freezing.
i miss the crunch of the chopped nuts, but it works pretty well.

thanks for this one!