You know when you’re a kid and you pretend to like something because your best friend likes something? Because god forbid you didn’t agree on the most important stuff like what movie ticket to buy or whether or not that jean skirt is a good idea.
Well when I was a pre-teener, my best friend Lauren and I both played cello, we bought matching (heinous) outfits for her birthday party, we put sun-in and lemon juice in our hair, and we created the best recipes. (You weren’t expecting that last one were you?) Her family was having a bonfire one night, and apparently they had something that I just had to try. Like better than s’mores and they created it. Seeing that Lauren and I had similar tastes in baked goods and breakfast foods (our main category of creation), I dug in excitedly. This uber-amazing bonfire treat consisted of a banana, split in half lengthwise, stuffed with chocolate and marshmallow, and wrapped in foil. This then went into the fire for 5 or so minutes until everything became melty.
I was kind of excited but hesitant because…warm, mushy banana? When I ate it, I almost spit it back out. The chocolate and marshmallow were great, but the banana was just warmed through and kind of snotty. Not at all appetizing to have sticking in the back of your throat. And keep in mind that I was a huge texture person. Also the peel remains on the banana to keep everything together which is just floppy and some of those strings that you purposefully remove stay on the warm banana/chocolate/marshmallow mixture which adds a contrast in an awful, horrible way. Aka, my thought process was something like this: Oh heck no. This crap is icky! (Remember, pre-teen)
So of course I pretended that it was the best thing ever and ate two. At every bonfire I was invited to.
As a result, cooked bananas have always been a sore spot for me. I have promptly avoided all bananas in any warmed form, as if paying penance for my several years of being a phony. But then I was flipping through a few of my cookbooks and ran across a couple of roasted banana recipes.
I have always loved veggies and fruits alike after roasting. It’s like a magical food science secret, that’s not so secret, on how to make everything delicious. So maybe I’d written cooked bananas off too quickly.
I’ve talked before about roasting, but let’s refresh, shall we? Basically high temperatures cause water to evaporate all at once, giving you more bang for your buck in the flavor department. But wait, we’re not even close to being done yet! As the water leaves, the environment becomes more dry (duh, Kelsey) which allows Maillard Browning to occur at a really fast rate. That’s that reaction that leads to delicious brown, nutty notes. Think toast, meaty steak, and coffee. But wait, there’s more! As the temperature in the food continues to increase, we get caramelization. That causes the long-chain polysaccharides, like, starch, to convert into sugars. But also, more beautiful, deep browned notes come through in the flavor.
Remember those bonfire bananas from earlier? Well that warming through process was not doing them justice. In order to get anywhere with flavor, we need to cook the shit out of them until we get a total breakdown.
This recipe is especially sweet because I use REALLY ripe bananas. Not just speckled brown. Like super dark. Those ripe bananas are already waaay ahead on the starch to sugar train because that’s exactly what happens in fruit ripening. As fruit “ages” the carbohydrates turn to simple sugars which is why ripe fruit tastes 100 million times better than green fruit. That head start allows more of the complex reaction pathways in Maillard and caramelization to occur because the initial steps can be skipped. Ripe fruit + roasting = the best thing ever. (Ripen your bananas in the oven too like I did making banana bread!)
So now that you’re drooling for roasted everything, let’s get to this ice cream! I know it’s hot out, and we don’t like turning our ovens (especially to 450⁰F), but trust me, it’s worth it! This ice cream is everything. And for all you other mushy, warm banana haters out there, prepare to be amazed! I’m a convert.
Roasted Banana and Chocolate Chunk No-Churn Ice Cream
Adapted from The New Sugar and Spice
Makes 1 quart
4 very ripe bananas (preferably frozen and thawed)
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla bean paste
¾ cup roughly chopped 60% chocolate
- Preheat oven to 450⁰F.
- In a heavy, large cast iron skillet (or a dutch oven), melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.
- Add the bananas (and any juices from thawing) and stir to combine, breaking up the bananas slightly as you go along.
- Put the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake, stirring after 15 minutes, until the sugar is bubbling and the bananas are collapsed, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully transfer the banana mixture to a heat-safe bowl. Let cool for 15 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the banana mixture until smooth. Alternatively, transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- Whisk the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste together along with a pinch of kosher salt until stiff peaks form.
- Add half of the banana mixture to the whipped cream and stir to combine. Fold in the remaining banana mixture and the chocolate chunks gently.
- Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or another freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.
See my review and another recipe from The New Sugar and Spice here!