Can frozen bananas satisfy an ice cream craving?
The source: Tasty.co
The promise: Not so much explicitly written as implied: This stuff is an acceptable substitute for ice cream.
No, not banana ice cream. Banana “ice cream”. Frozen bananas masquerading as ice cream. My skeptical eyebrow is firmly raised. I like bananas. But…
Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s great. It can’t possibly be a substitute for actual ice cream.
In order to give this the best possible chance of succeeding, I started with what seemed like the recipe most likely to conceal anything weird: chocolate peanut butter banana. Wack a little chocolate and peanut butter onto anything and I’ll eat it.
I started with the trusty food processor, because I’m a little scared of our blender, but I realized quickly that the poor processor wasn’t going to cut it because the bananas are, after all, frozen solid. The blender (we have a Ninja Ultima) did, in fact, work, although it required frequent adjustments to get the frozen chunks down near the blades.
Also our blender is very noisy, and my husband worked 3rd shift last night, so… sorry honey.
(Ironic that I spend all morning hissing at my child to be quiet and then I make an intense, sustained racket that is orders of magnitude louder than she could ever be. [I regretted it as soon as I started but it’s not like I could just quit in the middle; the bananas were melting and everything was mixed together and some things you just have to see through to the end.])
But as I finally finished blending, the result was actually… amazing.
It’s creamy! Like soft serve ice cream! And it tastes like…
Like cold bananas and milk and chocolate and peanut butter!
Ok, it’s not ice cream. It’s just not. But bananas and peanut butter and chocolate are good together, and the texture is just about spot on. The melted liquid is a little thicker than real ice cream.
Encouraged, I decided to take a shot at the recipe I deemed least likely to have a good result: vanilla bean banana.
I didn’t use a for-real vanilla bean, because there weren’t any at Walmart, and I got everything at Walmart because that’s where I had to pick up the dog’s anxiety medication and I’ll be danged if I have to drive to a second store with my toddler just to buy freaking vanilla beans. (It’s probably better with vanilla beans, though.)
As I suspected, banana and vanilla alone just wasn’t that great, and after tasting the concoction, I tossed in two tablespoons of honey and some cinnamon. This recipe, for whatever reason, was gloopier than the chocolate peanut butter and the texture wasn’t as convincing a double for real ice cream. But with the addition of the honey and cinnamon, the vanilla held its own flavor-wise against the chocolate peanut butter.
I discovered that it’s best to eat this after about 2-3 hours in the freezer, because as the concoction continues to freeze, it becomes very hard, very much like ice cream that’s been allowed to melt and refreeze. But since a serving of even the chocolate peanut butter flavor is less than 150 calories, and eating an entire batch will set you back less than 600 calories, might as well pull up a spoon and eat it while it’s at its best. Even immediately after blending, it has the consistency of slightly melty soft serve and could be eaten right away.
This dish suffers from its association. Because it’s perfectly good, and a great, fun way to eat bananas, but it just ain’t ice cream and it’s never going to be. This came a lot closer than I expected, though, so I’m going to say… promise (mostly) kept!
On a hot summer day, this dish hits all the right notes – sweet, creamy, cold – but as I was eating it, my brain got a little confused with each new bite because it looks so much like ice cream but tastes more like a banana smoothie (possibly because it has the exact same ingredients as a banana smoothie). That being said, where this would really shine is as an alternative for someone with food allergies or other dietary requirements that leaves real ice cream out of bounds (I used cow’s milk, but any dairy-free alternative would be fine). And I’d bet that this would work with pretty much any smoothie recipe that featured bananas.
Look, here’s my stance: a healthy diet that nourishes body and soul will include a wide variety of many foods in moderation, including ice cream. But let’s focus again on that word variety. This is a legitimately tasty option to deal with bananas darkened beyond anyone’s preferences. Frozen blended bananas can (shockingly) absolutely fill the ice cream gap inside your soul. But only for a little while. Nothing like the real thing, baby.
Have a suggestion for Anna to try – recipe, craft, or project? Send me a message or leave it in the comments!