Thursday, February 14, 2008

CSA week eleven - banana-habenero ice cream with cinnamon-honey-peanut butter candy chunks

The honey is the CSA bit by the way.

Banana ice cream is a special case. There's some magic chemical reaction in the bananas that gives a mixture of bananas, sugar and milk a texture hard to distinguish from an egg custard ice cream. This is the second banana ice cream I've made. For the first I used a recipe from David
Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop cookbook crossed with bananas foster that turned out fabulously. Lebovitz's recipes get huge raves so I was naturally cynical, but the two I've tried were both wonderful so I really should stop screwing around with my own little experiments and just buy the book.

Before I go any further I ought to get my version down for the record.

Bananas Foster Ice Cream

3 medium ripe bananas, peeled
1/3 cup or 70 grams packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup light rum
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the bananas into 1/2-inch pieces, toss with brown sugar and butter and lay out on a cookie sheet or baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on how spread out the bananas are, stirring once or twice and checking diligently for burning. Remove pan when they are browned, cooked through, and a caramel is just starting to form.

Scrape the bananas, sauce and caramel into a blender or food processor. Add everything else and puree until smooth. Chill in refrigerator to 40 degrees F (overnight is best) and see how thick it is. Mine had solidified into a pudding texture and could well have been served just like that. Instead I whisked in another 1/2 cup of milk before churning. Your results will depend on your bananas.


Now then, instead of Lebovitz's recipe as a base today I used Alton Brown's banana ice cream recipe:

3 medium ripe bananas, peeled (a little over 1 pound)
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
3/8 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
to which I added
1 seeded and chopped yellow habañero pepper
that's just enough to add some background heat without competing with the bananas.

Brown didn't say why he used corn syrup in the episode of Good Eats this recipe comes from. In On Food and Cooking McGee says that corn syrup is used as a thickener in low fat ice creams but with the bananas and heavy cream in this recipe that's not a real concern. If I were to make this again I'd use sugar instead (or Splenda blend which has half the calories and no notable off taste when used in ice cream).

Preparation is simple. Freeze the bananas and defrost so they get goopy. Blend them with the lemon juice (watch out for seeds!), chopped pepper and vanilla. Add the corn syrup; blend some more and then slowly add the cream while the food processor is going. Chill and churn.

The other half of the recipe was intended to be a swirl. That's how it was described in some random ice cream recipe I stumbled onto on the web. And maybe if I had started with a supermarket peanut butter it would have worked that way. Instead I started with whole peanuts.

A bit more than a cup of whole lightly salted peanuts, blended for a minute or two made
2/3 cup peanut butter
to which I added
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup medium-dark honey
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon

when I noticed that it had turned into a solid mass I added a bit more of everything but peanuts. The cinnamon and honey were absorbed but the oil wasn't. I poured off most of the oil and gave it a good kneading to try to get some more incorporated. Not much luck there, but the extra blending did make the mass quite smooth and a bit gooier. The texture was like a sugar syrup at the firm-ball stage if there are any confectioners reading who know what that means. When I froze a small ball of the candy on its own it got pretty solid, but in the ice cream it stayed a nice soft caramel texture (presumably by stealing moisture from the ice cream). However, since it was warm when I mixed it in some crunchy ice crystals formed. Next time I'll tear it into pieces and then chill before adding them. Another small problem was a yumminess differential between the peanut-butter candy and the more mild and subtle banana flavor of the ice cream. The peppers made the ice cream speak a little louder but the candy was a much stronger flavor.

Still, on the whole, successful bar the whining about the pepper and my need to screw up perfectly good ice cream (before anyone tried it I should point out). Not as good as the bananas foster ice cream but quite nice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I tried it and liked it a lot. Did you take it home or is still here? Off to check!