So, this was the week when everyone in my family decided they didn’t like bananas — and I was left with four sitting in the fruit bowl (Bananas, that is. Not family members.). Of course, the natural inclination is to make banana bread. Or more likely, the natural inclination is to pitch them.
And even though I never do it, I’ve also been told that ripe bananas freeze very well. Collect them in the freezer and use them when you feel like it. However, there is something about slowly rotting bananas that make me feel like I need to use them immediately. I never feel this way with shriveled up apples or moldy cheese.
Add to this that I had the most beautiful eggs from the farmer’s market the other day — from three or four different breeds of laying hens — that seemed like they needed a showcase. So I settled on the idea of a custard-based banana ice cream and I was not disappointed as I cracked those eggs. They were probably the brightest orange yolks I have ever seen.
I wanted to sweeten it with honey and I remembered a honey caramel sauce recipe I had seen. So the idea came together — a honey caramel custard base pureed with ripe bananas. With a touch of vanilla, dark rum, and a slightly salty cookie to garnish. The ice cream really is fabulous — super creamy and smooth without being too “fatty” tasting from a lot of heavy cream. It is still plenty rich though. I’d suggest serving it in little custard or egg cups. That leaves a lot leftover for you to eat it directly out of the freezer.
And the cookies are great on their own. I made them with whole wheat pastry flour and some dry roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (we can’t do nuts because of my daughter’s allergies, but any chopped nuts would work perfectly alongside the banana ice cream). They are super easy to make and look great if you roll them or form them while still hot — around a chopstick or skewer to make a “cigarette cookie” or in a shot glass to make a little flower. Bonus points if you drink the dark rum from the shot glass after you form your cookies.
So, maybe this got a little more involved than a loaf of banana bread, but I’m pretty sure it’s way, way better.
Banana Honey Caramel Ice Cream with Salted Tuile Cookies
Makes about two quarts of ice cream and 1 to 1 1/2 dozen cookies
4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 C. of whole milk
1 C. of heavy cream
3/4 C. of honey
4 egg yolks
Pinch of sea salt
1 t. vanilla extract
1 T. dark rum
1. In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together honey and heavy cream and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat a bit and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thickened and a caramel color. Watch that it doesn’t boil over — it does so easily.
2. Remove caramel from heat and whisk in 1 cup of the whole milk (other cup will be added later). Return to heat and make sure all the caramel gets incorporated (use a silicone spatula to get it out of the corners of the pan). Whisk well and turn heat to medium low.
3. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with pinch of salt. Take about 1/4 cup of the hot caramel/milk mixture and very slowly whisk it into the egg yolks. (You are tempering the egg yolks so they don’t scramble.) Add another 1/4 cup and whisk well.
4. Pour tempered egg yolk mixture into caramel/milk mixture and whisk well to incorporate, cooking over low heat and stirring almost constantly. Cook this mixture for about five minutes, until it has thickened. You can test it with an instant read thermometer if you like — it should be about 160-170 F.
5. In a blender, puree the remaining one cup of milk with the mashed bananas. Add the hot caramel custard from the pan. Puree well, being careful because hot liquids can expand … allow steam to escape through hole or keep lid slightly off, covering with a kitchen towel. You can also do this in a bowl with an immersion blender.
6. Stir in vanilla and dark rum and chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting the ice cream mixture in a bowl set inside another larger bowl filled with ice water — just be careful to not get water in the ice cream mixture.) It should be very cold when you put it in the ice cream freezer.
7. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. My batch took a little over 20 minutes. Transfer to the freezer to harden more, or serve as is (it will be more like soft serve at that point.)
Salted Pumpkin Seed Tuile Cookies:
(Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Honey Lace Cookies)
2 T. butter
1 1/2 T. honey
1 T. brown sugar
2 T. whole wheat pastry flour
Pinch of sea salt, plus a bit more for tops of cookies
3 T. roasted pumpkin seeds (or other toasted, chopped nuts)
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. In a small pan, melt butter with honey and brown sugar. Remove from heat and stir in flour, salt, and pumpkin seeds.
3. On a parchment lined baking sheet, use about one teaspoon of dough per cookie — allow plenty of room to spread while baking.
4. Cook about 8 minutes (less for smaller cookies) until cookies are golden brown and bubbly.
5. Remove from oven, sprinkle each with a few grains of sea salt, and let cool for 2-3 minutes on parchment. When the cookies are just starting to firm up (meaning they are pliable, but not falling apart), you can roll them around a chopstick or skewer for a cigarette cookie or carefully push them into a shotglass or other small cup to make a flower shape. Let cool completely in forms. Drizzle with a bit of melted chocolate if you like.