Friday, June 20, 2014

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Somewhere among all the newly purchased apricots, peaches and cherries on my table were lurking a couple of ripening bananas, suffering from what we all know as the early stages of Banana Neglect Syndrome.  In my rush to celebrate all the stone fruit of the season, I'd overlooked them.  So when all the other fresh fruit pastries were baked, they were discovered in the nick of time.

There are lots of things to do with ripening bananas.  We all know the drill, although I must admit I'm partial to this Banana Sauce Cake.  But this time I just wanted to make some ice cream.  The bananas were freckled with several brown spots but not blackening, which would help to keep the ice cream tasting fresh.  To add more adventure, I mixed in some peanut butter for a nutty overtone.  And since this ice cream isn't a cooked custard with eggs, I could stand at my food processor and just keep adding ingredients, tasting as I went along until it all came together.  So I mixed in some brown sugar along with the granulated, a dash of rum for complexity and to smooth out the rough edges, a slight pinch of cinnamon for intrigue, and processed away.  I didn't want the ice cream to taste of rum or cinnamon but both add just a hint of flavor that makes the whole thing come together.  And for a crowning touch, there is of course some chopped chocolate, a very close compadre to bananas and peanut butter.

So you can take these basic ingredients and juggle the ratios, tasting as you go along, to get it just right for you.  I start with the basic dairy ingredients, then add the bananas, peanut butter, both sugars and a pinch of salt.  Then taste and adjust for these elements.  I was going for a balance of banana and peanut butter but you might prefer an emphasis on one or the other.  Then add the vanilla, rum and cinnamon and see what you think.  Keep processing after each addition and stop when it tastes like your idea of heaven.  I also like a little edge of salt, so I adjust this last before I chill the base.  And then last but not least, fold in the chopped chocolate just after the ice cream has been churned in your ice cream maker.  Presto!  It's easy and fun and a very quenching ice cream in the mid-afternoon sun.

Bench notes:
- I used creamy peanut butter but crunchy would also be fabulous for added texture and flavor.
- If time allows, chill the ice cream base overnight.  When it's thoroughly chilled, your ice cream machine can work more efficiently for the best results.
- I prefer either bittersweet or semisweet chocolate here but milk chocolate would add that familiar childhood touch of creamy sweetness.
- Skip the chocolate chunks and serve with chocolate sauce: Whisk together 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, whisking constantly.  Cook for 2 minutes until it smoothes out and the full flavor of the cocoa has a chance to bloom.  Add 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 oz finely chopped chocolate and whisk to combine.  When the chocolate has melted, take off the heat and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Whisk thoroughly and add a pinch of salt, to taste.  Pour into an airtight container and chill.
- More banana goodness: Chocolate Banana Cream Cake, Banana Cream Cake with Cinnamon Caramel Syrup, Chocolate Banana Upside Down Cake

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 pints

1 1/2 cups (12 oz) milk
1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream
2 ripe bananas (about 13 oz in their skins)
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup (6 oz) peanut butter
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Place the milk, heavy cream, bananas, both sugars, peanut butter and a pinch of salt in a blender or the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the bananas are pureed and the ingredients are smoothly blended.  Add vanilla, rum and cinnamon and process.  Adjust for salt.  Pour into an airtight container, cover and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

Whisk the ice cream base and freeze according to your ice cream machine's instructions.  Fold in the chopped chocolate and pour into an airtight container.  Press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface, cover and place in the freezer to firm up.


SallyBR said...

absolutely lovely!

I made an ice cream not too long ago in which I used cacao nibs, mixed in the final minutes of churning

I liked the delicate crunch they offered, maybe they could work well in your peanut butter version too..

I know my husband would go crazy for this ice cream, he loves anything with peanut butter. ;-)

pastry studio said...

Hello, SallyBR! Cacao nibs have their own special unique flavor and would probably go nicely in this ice cream. Hope you and your husband have a chance to enjoy this. It's so simple to throw together; the hardest part is waiting for it to chill before it goes into the machine!

Anonymous said...

One question - I sometimes see ice cream recipes which, rather than an egg-custard base have a pudding base thickened with cornstarch. Do you have any experience with this technique? I am curious if it really enhances the "scoopability" as they suggest..

pastry studio said...

Anonymous, there are a lot of factors that go into the texture of ice cream: ratio of dairy fat in the combination of milk/cream/yogurt/sour cream/buttermilk; sugar levels; water content in fruit. Chocolate can also add to the creaminess.

I have made gelato and ice cream with cornstarch. (In fact, I made an Almond Espresso Brittle Gelato with cornstarch last week that I'll post some time.) Cornstarch absorbs water, prevents ice crystal formation and takes the place of egg yolks to thicken the ice cream. And although it does have a certain creaminess, it doesn't quite have the mouthfeel of a custard base. In my cookbook, I also have a Sicilian style Pistachio Gelato made with cornstarch but I add a bit of olive oil to get some of that mouthfeel back.

You might try a half-recipe sometime to get a sense of it. It's definitely a nice solution to avoid graininess if you a low-fat mixture and want to avoid eggs.

Hope this helps!

Bryan said...

Hiya :PS!
I've been on an ice cream kick lately too, both yolk-y and yolk-less batches. This yolkless one was fun to put together.
And yes, peanut butter, banana, chocolate: perfect, really.

Instead of choc chunks, I poured melted chocolate into the machine in the last minutes to get fun little stracciatella chips.

Your pictures of the scoops in cones inspired me to make some little ones out of pizzelles. Good stuff!
Thanks for another great post!

pastry studio said...

Hey, Bryan! You are fearless with your homemade pizzelles. I like your stracciatella idea, too. Making ice cream is really total BLISS.