Monday, June 23, 2008

"Banana Split" -- Poached-Banana Ice Cream with White Chocolate-Banana Crèpes and Chocolate Sauce

When I was growing up, my parents and other family members spent many, many nights suffering through a seemingly endless parade of dance recitals, band, orchestra, and chorus concerts, and musicals. I'm sure it was to quell the splitting headache they endured listening to my squeaky oboe, but after the end of nearly every show, we'd go out for ice cream to this place called Rutter's. It's a family-owned dairy that spawned a small chain of family restaurants in my hometown. I was pretty easy to please back then -- chocolate ice cream with chocolate jimmies (or sprinkles) was my regular order. Every now and then I would branch out, be bold, take a risk, go big and order chocolate-marshmallow ice cream instead, but that was about as far as I'd go.

My brother, on the other hand, would order whatever super-duper-punchbowl-death-by-cow concoction they had on the menu... and would finish every last drop. I was never a fan of fruit and chocolate in the same dish, so banana splits and other desserts of that ilk never really appealed to me. In fact, it's only been recently that I have come to love the banana-chocolate combination. I still really dislike chocolate with all other fruits, but this is a combo I can get behind.

I love that there's a "Banana Split" dish in The French Laundry Cookbook -- but, (there's always a but), this dish had white chocolate in it, which I think I hate more than the idea of a chocolate-fruit combo. Is it just me? I don't know about you, but I really can't stand white chocolate. A) it's not really chocolate, and 2) it's just so slimy in its texture it gets stuck in my throat and makes me cough and gag. Same for milk chocolate. They both taste like burned plastic smells or what I would imagine licking a 9-volt battery might be like. I'm a dark chocolate girl, all the way.

I thought about substituting some dark chocolate instead of the white chocolate, but having just had success with the Île Flottante I did not want to incur the wrath of the pastry gods so I stuck with the recipe at hand and hoped against all hope that it wouldn't suck. I started making most the elements of this dish the night before I knew I was going to serve it, because the ice cream needed time to fully chill, and the crèpes needed time to freeze.

The first thing I did was make the poached-banana ice cream. Thanks to David Lebovitz and his awesome book, I've had lots of practice making ice cream over the past year or so, so I knew this step would be a breeze. I placed the bananas in a large saucepan, and covered them with cream, milk, sugar and some seeds from a vanilla bean:

I turned the heat on low and warmed them up for about 15 minutes so that the bananas could poach. I removed the bananas from the liquid, tossed the vanilla bean, and strained the poaching liquid.

I put the bananas into the food processor and puréed them.

I pushed the puréed bananas through a tamis, scraping them to get every last bit through, and reseved it in a bowl to use for the crèpe filling.

I'd saved the liquid in which I poached the bananas, strained it, and put it in a saucepan to bring it up to a simmer. I then whisked some egg yolks in a separate bowl, used the warm milk/cream mixture to temper the yolks, then put the yolky mixture back into the creamy mixture in the saucepan and stirred until it coated the back of a wooden spoon. I poured this custard into a bowl that was sitting in a bowl of ice and stirred it until it had cooled off:

I strained the custard and let it completely cool off in the fridge overnight. The next day, I churned it in my ice cream maker, and you'll see the final product later on in the plating.

The next step was to finish the crèpe filling, and stuff and roll the crèpes. I already had the mashed nanners in the bowl, remember them?

I chopped up 9 oz. of white chocolate (fffllleeaarrggghhhh), melted it in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, then stirred it into a food processor, along with the bananas, as well as a wee bit of salt and some lemon juice, where I processed the heck out of it:

I refrigerated this for two hours to let it become a little more firm. In retrospect, it needed to be refrigerated overnight, but it still worked. Sort of. Well, more than sort of. You'll see.

With the filling done, it was time to make the crèpes. I've made crèpes before, but those were savory and these were sweet, so it required a few tweaks to the core ingredients, but the cooking process was still the same. My crèpes ended up more yellow than I thought they'd be, but they smelled really great. I trimmed them to be a little more rectangular-ish, then added the filling to the lower third (you'll see it was a little more blobular than it should've been). I rolled them, then wrapped them in plastic wrap before freezing them.

Yeah, so go figure that every time I tried to take a photo, the wrapping popped loose. I ended up twisting and tying them tightly, like I did the duck breast, way back in the day, and they stayed all snug and tight in the freezer overnight.

The next evening, I finished the final steps of the dish -- making the chocolate sauce and the whipped cream. Making whipped cream is easy: cream, Kitchen Aid mixer, whhhiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrreeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEE, and done. The chocolate sauce also was really easy: chopped bittersweet chocolate into a bowl of warm cream and corn syrup:

You'll see how beautifully it melted in the final plating photo. Which reminds me: time to plate!

First in the dish went a small pool of warm chocolate sauce, followed by three slices of the frozen, filled crèpe. I topped that with some of the banana ice cream some whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry:

The crèpes, as you can see, were not perfect rounds, which I knew when I rolled them was the case, but still... they tasted amazing, white chocolate and all. The ice cream was so so so good, and the chocolate sauce? I should've taken pictures of our licked-clean plates. Everything was absolutely delicious. Smooth, creamy, and I love the hot and cold together.

While the Île Flottante was far and away a grand slam, this was a home run, for sure. Each one of the elements could and did stand on its own (I ate the leftovers, so I am in expert in making this assessment), but together, they were just lovely. In fact, it not only made me miss my childhood, post-concert ice cream treats, the chocolate-banana combo makes me a little bit homesick for my favorite ice-cream stand on the way to the beach, where they make killer chocolate-banana milkshakes. That ice cream stand is only 2 hours from my house..... hhhhmmmmm.... what's my day like tomorrow? FIELD TRIP!!!

Up Next: Double Rib Lamb Chops with Cassoulet of Summer Beans and Rosemary

Bananas and lemon from Whole Foods
Milk and cream from Organic Valley
Domino sugar
Eggs from Smith Meadows Farm
Vanilla bean from the TPSS Co-op
Noi Sirius bittersweet chocolate (70%)
Karo light corn syrup
El Rey Icoa white chocolate
Great Expectations maraschino cherries

Music to Cook By: Journey; Frontiers. There's something about this time of year that makes me nostalgic for my high school days -- not really wanting to relive them or anything, but thinking back to how awful being 14 was and if only I knew then what I knew now, I might not have gotten that one perm. Okay, those 20 perms. But I digress. I was in 9th grade when I got my first Walkman, and I always looked forward to having a few new tapes to listen to on the car ride to the beach with my family in the summer. I thought "Separate Ways" was the rockinest song, and I would air drum to it when I thought no one was looking. I also thought (and still think) "Send Her My Love" is one of the most awesome songs ever written and totally thought Steve Perry was singing about me. I have this feeling that had YouTube existed back in the day, my friends and I would've recreated the "Separate Ways" video and posted it there for the world to see. I would've also insisted that we recreate "Oh, Sherry" too, because why not? That song is really good, and again, Steve Perry was totally singing it to me. I just know it. Shut up.

Read My Previous Post: "Yabba Dabba Do" -- Roasted Rib Steak with Golden Chanterelles, Pommes Anna, and Bordelaise Sauce


Anonymous said...

You have just described my childhood post-concert ritual, except my place was called Peterson's, and I went through different phases (the turtle sundae was a favorite for a while), but agreed that banana splits ought to be avoided. Perhaps I was wrong about that last point.h

Anonymous said...

I loathe white chocolate; I also have texture issues, but for me, it's more of a waxy-ish-ness. And it simply does not taste like chocolate, which defeats the entire purpose.

You've already claimed Bloomberg and bacon as your own, so you can just leave Steve Perry to the rest of us.

Karen said...

I'm not crazy about white chocolate myself--it tastes like paraffin--but I tend not to mind it in chunks in Ben&Jerry's.

But I really have to question the no-fruit-and-chocolate boycott. Seriously?? No chocolate and orange? No chocolate and RASPBERRY?? These are combinations of the GODS.

Anonymous said...

Carol - another home run! You're making me long for the days of making gallons of creme anglaise (which makes the most perfect vanilla ice cream, BTW), and pouring it on 2-3 pounds of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate...I always kept a tasting spoon with me when the freezing process was done! (I'd mention the "un-freezing process", but that's another movie...)

Side note - My first pastry chef's bakery is in Tomales Bay, where Steve Perry is a regular customer, and on a couple of occasions I have run into him, but the BIG RULE was not to even mention J-O-U-R-N-E-Y; bitterness still ensues between the parties; but he really hasn't aged a bit, and he's a very nice guy who knows his baked goods!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've been ice cream crazy lately, but the tricky part (for me at least) always becomes how to plate it so that its interesting. This dish looks way beyond interesting--this is really amazing. Fantastic work!

Anonymous said...

i'm SO with you on the white chocolate, it always makes me feel like i'm eating a hardened chunk of butter. blech.

poached banana ice cream, now that i can get behind. i'm a huge fam of david lebovitz's roasted naner ice cream, and now i need to try this one. i think i could get over my bitterness toward FLaH for some tasty ice cream.

Anonymous said...

Not like white chocolate? Real white chocolate; not white candy coating? Impossible. It's full of cocoa butter goodness with no chocolate bitter funk.

(Just wanted to argue for white chocolate since I used to eat entire white chocolate bunnies at Easter time.)

Carol Blymire said...

AS: That turtle sundae sounds amazing to me now, but I would've rejected it back then because it had nuts in it, and I hated nuts as part of my ice cream experience. I was such a pain in the ass.

Karen: I know, it's probably uncommon, but I loathe fruit and chocolate. Chocolate-dipped strawberries? Ew. Chocolate cake with raspberry swirl? Gag me. Now, could someone slip it by me in teeny tiny doses? Probably, but I really can't stand the combo. It's not a sweet and tart thing, because I could drizzle caramel on almost anything and be a very happy girl.

Robert S.: You forgot to tell me the time of day Steve Perry likes to buy his baked goods so that I may more effectively be able to stalk him... er, um, I mean run into him.

Michelle: It's soooo worth it. And do the chocolate sauce, too. It was all I could do to not just eat it right out of the saucepan with a spoon.

Lisa: Say what you will, you won't change my mind. White chocolate is as stupid as tripe is terrific.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at how bravely you both face things like pigs' heads and white chocolate. I mean, seriously.... white chocolate?? ;-)

Actually I thought the same about milk chocolate, and then I had some in a Pierre Hermé pastry last week, and realised milk chocolate could be fine, tasty, not gooey and cloyingly sweet. You probably need to find the combination that works for you, as well as top notch ingredients...

Anyway those crêpes look stunning!

Anonymous said...

"Oh Sherrie" came out when I was 13 or 14, and I swear I thought he was singing "Hose on, hose on," as if he were singing about having a stocking fetish.

And being married to a chocoholic, we're not allowed to have white chocolate in the house. It is anathema.

Rod said...

Normal American white chocolate? Junk. Good white chocolate? I like it.

More importantly, a Kitchen Aid should not figure into making whipped cream. Doing it with heavy cream and a good hand whisk creates a slightly heavier, creamier whipped cream. It's much better. Don't try to duplicate the puffed airy whipped cream consistency that comes from a can. That's for egg whites, not cream.

pdxblogmommy said...

Helllloooooo Lovah....that looks amazing.

And MIGHT I remind you of a certain gent named Otto who used to prepare by hand only the finest strawberries carved out, filled with lovely libations, DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE, and topped with whipped cream?

You didn't turn that fruit and chocolate combo down, now didja?

Vagablonde Bombchelle said...

I have been looking for a way to "adult up" one of my childhood favorites, the Carvel Banana Barge, and this might be my answer! The only thing better in the summer than a ice cream is a good lamb dish. Looking forward to your next post!

Anonymous said...

White chocolate, PUH! My husband feigns fright every time I go on a rant about white chocolate. and Lisa, "chocolate bitter funk?" That IS chocolate! I'm a 70% cacao girl myself, so bring on the bitter.

Hillary said...


(Sorry to succumb to local nostalgia yet again...I'm so predictable.) Carol, thanks to your references I may cross the borders of my native county again someday. Not this year -- 20th HS reunion -- yuk!

Must make room in my freezer to tool around with KA ice cream maker attachment once again, I was doing a pretty decent creme anglaise last year. It was either you or Ruhlman that turned me on to Mr. Lebovitz's excellent book...

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol,
I have made this same formula for banana ice cream using very caramelized bananas, thus the anglaise was caramel. Fill your crepe with a dark chocolate cremeux and dessert is served.

I agree with brownbag that a good hand whisk creates a significantly individual cream as where the Kitchen Aid is easy, thats all. Carol I hope you are well...

Dragon said...

This looks wonderful. I was wondering, how do you avoid tiny ice crystals forming in your ice cream? My homemade ice cream tastes good but I can always feel the ice crystals.

Claire Uncorked said...

Your blog is hilarious! I love it! I'm sure the food is quite divine, albeit more than I'd be able to make...that's for sure! Kudos to you & your efforts!!

Claire Uncorked said...

Oh, & I'm not a fan of white chocolate, either. Ick. I mean, what's the point?

David said...

from the looks of it, all that ice cream practice makes perfect...x dl

Anonymous said...

White chocolate and Steve Perry - two things that make me gag. This, however, I could get behind. The pastry gods are smiling upon you and you are blessed.

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Love this kind of twist on a dessert! Simply beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, this is stunning!

I was really surprised to see that it was only the poaching liquor that was used in the ice-cream. I'll have to try that out sometime. (My usual banana ice-cream involves poaching the seeded bananas and then blending the whole lot together.)

I keep putting The French Laundry on my Christmas list. Maybe someone will buy it for me this year if I direct them here!