Thursday, August 16, 2012

Going Bananas: Diary-Free Ice Cream and Pudding

If you're on Pinterest at all, you've probably seen ice cream made from frozen bananas. I was floored by just how creamy and diary-like the ice cream came out. And the slightly over-ripe bananas give it the perfect sweet taste. I've spent a good portion of the summer coming up with different flavor combinations for this icy treat. The banana-based ice cream has been a hit with Eric (his favorite is the chocolate peanut butter, mine is the almond) and both our families. Impatient to taste my creations, I've also discovered that if you don't freeze it, it makes a delicious pudding!

Basic Recipe:
Makes about a pint

4 slightly over-ripe bananas; peeled, cut into coins and frozen solid (I've found leaving them overnight yields the best results)

Place the frozen banana pieces into a food processors and blend. At first the bananas will resemble little pieces of gravel, but if you keep on blending, they turn into a thick, creamy mixture that resembles soft serve ice cream.

This is how it starts out . . .

. . . and this is how it turns out.
At this point you can eat it as banana pudding. Or put it in the freeze for 4 or 5 hours and have banana ice cream. Or you can create flavors by adding other ingredients to the food processor. You don't ever get rid of the banana flavor all together, but it does become more subtle.

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
4 bananas
3 tablespoons peanut butter

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream
4 bananas
3 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate-Hazelnut Banana Ice Cream
4 bananas
4 tablespoons home chocolate-hazelnut spread or Nutella

Vanilla Banana Ice Cream
4 bananas
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Caramel Banana Ice Cream
4 bananas
4 tablespoons caramel sauce

Almond Banana Ice Cream
4 bananas
3 tablespoons almond butter

Sadly, I haven't been able to create a good chocolate banana ice cream. To get the chocolate flavor I'm after, I have to add a lot of the cocoa powder, but then the bitterness of the cocoa powder overrides the sweetness of the bananas, and I can't stand what that much powder does to the texture of the ice cream (I've also been experimenting with a chocolate avocado pudding and the cocoa powder is throwing me off there, too).  The next time I make banana ice cream, I think I want to use 2 or 3 tablespoons hot fudge sauce or chocolate syrup. Not as healthy, but it's ice cream, it's supposed to be a treat.



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