This is the big finale of my dinner party from last week, and I am so excited to write about it and mentally savor it again!
My tastes have changed so much through college and since I started cooking with some food-knowledge. If you asked me 5 years ago if this is a dessert I’d want, I think I’d actually turn it down…and anyone who knows me is probably shocked to hear that I’d say no to ANY dessert.
It turns out, though, that bananas are actually *really* good when ripe, and homemade caramel simply OWNS the weird, store-bought, grainy stuff I ate as a kid. Together, the bananas, caramel, and chocolate are a fantastic, balanced, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, rich, simply amazing dessert. Can I say enough about it?
It’s best to start the ice cream the night before, but as long as you give it a good 6 hours to cool in the refrigerator, you should be okay.
As for the caramel, it’s a bit of a learning process. David Lebovitz’s How To Make the Perfect Caramel was hugely helpful, and I slightly modified his technique for making caramel praline (from a recipe for salted butter caramel ice cream). I had a similar snafu with my first batch of caramel as David–I stirred too much and it looked like this:
But after some long low-medium heat, it turned back into the nice liquid it should be. And there’s really no joke about immediately pouring it out (for the praline) or adding the cream (for the ice cream) after the 2-3 seconds of smoking. I let one batch smoke for about 10 seconds and it was too burnt…had to throw it out, boo.
But enough of that! Go forth and experiment, because these recipes were new to me last week and I’m excited to play around with them at dinner parties to come.
Caramel Ice Cream with Praline Chips
Modified from Epicurious.com.
6-8 egg yolks (I used 7 for super-rich ice cream)
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water. Do not stir. Every couple of minutes, use a heat-resistant (eg, wood) spatula to pull sugar on sides of pan toward the middle and swirl the pan. After several minutes, melted sugar will turn amber, then will begin to slightly “smoke.” After 2-3 seconds of “smoke,” turn off heat and quickly stir in the heavy whipping cream. **BE CAREFUL–this can bubble vigorously, so it might be a good idea to hold up a mesh splatter screen between you and the caramel at first.** Stir cream and caramel over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until all caramel bits have dissolved. Add milk and bring to a simmer.
Slowly dribble caramel mixture into egg yolks, stirring constantly to prevent curds from forming. Once combined, return to saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens, leaving a “nap” on the back of the spoon (see here for picture), about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Strain custard into a clean large bowl and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24.
While custard is chilling, make praline by making a second batch of caramel, with 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water, exactly the same as the first. This time, have a large piece of parchment paper lining a cookie sheet near the stove. About 2-3 seconds after the caramel begins to smoke, immediately remove from the heat and pour onto the parchment paper. Quickly lift the pan and tilt it nearly vertical to spread the caramel into a thin layer. Let rest until cool, then crush into small pieces.
Once custard is chilled, churn in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. I like to use one bowl for the first 20 minutes, then transfer to my second bowl for the last 5 or so–it helps give it a little firmness that’s lacking otherwise. Once finished churning, stir in praline chips and set in freezer until ready to serve.
2-3 bananas, sliced into 1.5-inch thick pieces
Sugar for coating
1 Tbsp butter
Cover a small plate with granulated sugar. Tap the top and bottom of each banana slice (but NOT the sides) in the sugar and set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a saute pan until just barely browned, then carefully place each banana slice in the pan in an order you will remember (in rows, in a circle, etc). Each banana should have only about 1 1/2 minutes per side, so once you’ve finished placing them all, they will probably be ready to be flipped in the order they were added. Be very careful when flipping; they’re hot! Again, once you’ve finished flipping, the first ones are ready to come off. Serve while hot.
I also grated some dark chocolate over the whole set-up to give it an extra sharpness. Better quality chocolate is definitely worth investing in, especially since you use so little. My personal favorite is Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate.