i realize i’m a bit late to the party on turning frozen bananas into ice cream, but i didn’t want to post a recipe for this tasty frozen treat until it was actually, well, tasty.
i experimented a bit last summer making banana ice cream, or “nice cream” as i’ve seen it referred to, and i just didn’t love it enough to share it with y’all. i had read that, like banana bread, it tastes best with super ripe bananas. super ripe bananas are sweeter and have a stronger banana flavor, which is great when you’re baking banana bread, but i didn’t actually consider either of those attributes particularly desirable for my banana ice cream, given that i wanted to be able to mix other flavors in.
during my experiments last summer, i tried adding peanut butter, chocolate, and other standard flavors and mix-ins. they were all fine, but the banana flavor was so strong, that was pretty much all the ice cream tasted of, in spite of the amount of peanut butter or chocolate i added.
as i began testing out flavors this summer, i decided that i really wanted to be able to create a coffee oreo flavor, since that is my favorite ice cream flavor. i figured that i would have better results if the starting banana flavor wasn’t so strong, since that would require me to add a lot of espresso granules, which would then need more sugar… and then we would be heading for a more complicated, less healthy recipe.
so i backed up to the very start and put the bananas in the freezer as soon as they weren’t green anymore, but before they had any brown spots. based on my experience last summer, i’ve learned that it’s so much easier to freeze slices when they are laid out individually on a baking sheet, rather than just tossed into an airtight container, where they all weld to each other as they freeze.
once i had my individual banana slices, i got to work figuring out how much instant espresso powder i needed to get good coffee flavor without totally overpowering the ice cream or making it really bitter. one to two teaspoons per two cups of banana ended up being the right amount. it depends a bit on how strong you like the coffee flavor in your ice cream.
happily, the just barely ripe bananas had a milder flavor that blended with the coffee flavor. the banana flavor is still clearly there – this wouldn’t be mistaken for coffee ice cream made with dairy – but the banana is mild and complementary, plus we’ve already established that i like coffee and banana together.
so now that i’ve finally gotten the ratios right and the recipe figured out, i wanted to share it with you, since, judging by the heat in maine, we could all use a frozen treat right about now.
- 2 cups (229 g. / 8 oz.) frozen banana slices
- 1 – 2 teaspoons instant espresso granules
- 2 – 3 oreo cookies, lightly crushed
- peel and slice the bananas into ½ - 1” slices. spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper. cover with plastic wrap and freeze until the banana slices are frozen solid, at least 2 hours. if you’re not going to use all of the slices at once, transfer them to an airtight container within 24 hours once they are frozen.
- fit a food processor with the regular chopping blade and add the bananas and 1 teaspoon espresso. process until the bananas are smooth, stopping as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. when the processor is stopped to scrape the bowl, taste for the amount of espresso and add the second teaspoon, if you like.
- as you continue to process, the banana will go from slices to grainy chunks to one solid ball to a smooth, soft-serve-like frozen puree. so, if it’s not smooth and soft-serve-like yet, keep running the machine.
- once the ice cream reaches a smooth consistency, transfer it from the processor bowl to a medium chilled mixing bowl and add in the crushed oreos. gently fold the oreos in and serve immediately.
this ice cream is best enjoyed as soon as you make it. if you prefer a more frozen, solid ice cream, freeze the ice cream for about 20 minutes, until it begins to firm up.
leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer but the texture will be significantly harder and may turn a bit icy. if you want to run the refrozen ice cream through the food processor again, you can, but if you’ve already added the oreos, those will get ground up and combined into the base.
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