Yes, we are technically in the realm of fall throughout the country. Down here in Texas, the seasons are not very well defined. In San Antonio, I can still recall sunbathing in December and wearing shorts on Christmas some years. That means we have lots of time each year to enjoy ice cream.
As far as I'm concerned, dairy is a little bit of heaven. As a Wisconsinite and a person whose extended family includes about 100 dairy cows, I am a believer in all things milk, cheese, and ice cream. When IceDaddy and I found the heaven that is Italy and, more specifically, the amazing gelato, we were inspired to buy an ice cream maker.
I can't say that it churns out restaurant-quality ice cream (too many ice crystals), but I can control what goes into every batch much more and I'm willing to sacrifice some mouth feel for flavor. In that vein, when I came across a recipe for banana ice cream, I was completely intrigued. First off, it was NOT the heaviest or least healthy ice cream recipe I've seen
(thank you to Ina Garten for that one - but oh-so-good chocolate gelato recipe), and it was versatile.
With Ice's birthday just past, I wanted to make him a special meal, including something for dessert. Rather than going for the usual banana puddin' cake (which is AWESOME - thanks Cake Mix Doctor), with 100+ degree temps still a possibility, ice cream logically won. And hey, if the ice cream was good, it might find its way into a banana puddin' ice cream cake at some point....
In my humble ice cream making experience, here are some hints to consider:
- ice cream is usually just a "custard" base; that is, milk, eggs, and sugar
- sweetened condensed milk is a great product to thicken the ice cream without having to add eggs (pasteurized egg product is an option if not cooking the custard before freezing); if you're averse to uncooked ice cream, this may be a good option. It does add a distinct flavor though
- vanilla, vanilla, vanilla - just about any ice cream benefits from a splash of vanilla
- some recipes call for cooked custard, while others do not. If you do cook the base, make sure to cool it down in an ice bath before putting into the ice cream freezer. Better texture of the final product that way
So, with that, I took myself over to my 'hoss blender and threw in a cup of 1/2 and 1/2, 3 very ripe bananas, a couple tablespoons of sugar, and 3/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk. That was the entire recipe given to me. I chose to "embellish" with a little pinch of nutmeg and, ahem, vanilla (what else!). The bananas can vary in sweetness depending on the level of ripeness, so you may need to add more sugar to taste. This got served with a yummy and sweet chocolate sauce, so the lack of sweetness of the ice cream was a terrific balance to the overly sweet chocolate.
Now, when you eat a bite of sweet, creamy perfection, whether fall, winter, spring, or summer, is there really any time NOT appropriate for ice cream?