What a rock ‘n’ roll of a weekend! I spent 3 days surrounded by food bloggers from all over the world, having an enormous amount of fun, learning, sampling good food and reaching for the prosecco on a regular basis. It was great to see people who have turned what I’ve been trying to do for 5 minutes into beautiful collections of recipes, stories, photographs, books, innovative food businesses, happy successful careers.
But apart from the food, another theme dominated the weekend: the heat. Humid, sweltering, oppressive heat. With all the excitement, over indulging, and hot weather, by Sunday afternoon I was exhausted and emotional, like an oversugared child at a birthday party. So I headed home, nearly staying on the air conditioned train for the rest of the day, just riding up and down the London suburbs in cool comfort. I made it home eventually and sat there, watching the nation celebrate Andy Murray’s triumph and trying not to move much.
Even though I had little energy left, 3 days listening to food stories had me itching for the kitchen. Away from the oven, and preferably working with ice. Since my husband was begging me to finally get rid of the pile of overripe bananas by now attracting a growing population of hungry flies, I considered them first. Now, not only am I a great believer in using leftovers for cooking, I’m also fairly flexible when it comes to use-by dates. In particular in the case of bananas, which have a earmarked destination in my kitchen: they always turn into the Rolls Royce of the banana cake world that is the rum and nuts version from the Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey cookbook – now, you try to come up with a cleverer name for a cookbook! Baking was out, though, and so I considered ice cream. And who knew that frozen blended banana magically turns itself into creamy ice cream? At least that’s what you’ll find in the first 2 pages of ‘banana ice cream’ results in Google. Even Jamie Oliver’s doing it. News to me, but a clear winner on parents forums, as a healthy summer snack with no added sugar, or any other ingredient, for that matter. Just bananas, frozen, blended, then frozen again.
I added some extras to mine, naturally. And turned it into a banoffee ice cream dessert. To make the ice cream, I followed the same freeze-and-blitz concept, but also added cream and golden syrup to it, then pralined pecans – both to use up the last of the African pecans, and for the toffee element of the banoffee. The biscuit base was replaced by a biscuit basket laced with golden syrup. It held the ice cream well and never lost its crunchiness. The caramel sauce has a bit of coconut milk added to it, which made the dessert a bit more refreshing.
So I did use the oven after all. But the biscuits only take 8 minutes to bake, and I had a man handing me cocktails to help me cope by then.
I made 2 versions: ice cream served in the biscuit case, with sauce over it. This one works for me. I like my ice cream on the semi-melted side, so I warmed the sauce a tiny bit, which did just the trick. I also shaped the biscuits into tubes – like cannoli – and filled them with ice cream. No sauce.
This was my first attempt at tuille type biscuits. For a more sturdy base, I opted for brandy snaps – minus the brandy, plus coconut for the crunch. It is a little tricky, but a bit of patience – and in my case, 2 attempts – did the job. Despite the very buttery dough, I still had to grease the baking parchment, as on my first attempt it got hopelessly stuck to the biscuits. Either that, or it’s time to invest on a silicone baking mat.
In the end, it all came together and we had a very cooling banoffee dessert to end a glorious weekend on a sweet note.
Banana Ice Cream In Crunchy Caramel Basket:
For the very creamy ice cream:
- 4 very ripe bananas
- 200 ml double cream (1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 ml golden syrup (1/2 cup)
- 150 pralined pecans (1 ¼ cup) – see recipe below
- Peel the bananas, cut them into 2 inch slices and freeze them for at least 3 hours until solid.
- Blend the frozen bananas for about a minute, until they achieve a crumbly consistency.
- Switch the blender off, add the vanilla and the cream, then blend again until you have a very creamy mixture. You may need to stop, scrape bits from the sides of the blender, then blend again.
- Spoon in the pralines and mix well.
- Pour the cream into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Or churn the ice cream manually, as I did: pour the cream into a sturdy container and place it in the freezer, uncovered. Leave it for 40 minutes, then remove it and whisk it very well until you have the same creamy consistency throughout. Take it back to the freezer and repeat this process 3 times.
6. Remove the ice cream from the freezer a few minutes before serving.
For the pecan pralines:
- 100g pecans (1 cup)
- 420 g granulated sugar (2 cups)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 100 ml single cream (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- Line a working surface with baking parchment or foil. No need to butter it.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, bicarb and cream.
- Cook on a medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, whisking frequently. You should end up with a golden brown shade and frothy consistency.
- Add the butter and pecans and mix well, until well combined and all butter dissolved – should not take longer than 2 minutes.
- Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on the parchment paper and let it cool completely.
- 70 g granulated sugar (1/3 cup)
- 65g all purpose flour (1/2 cup)
- 20 g shredded coconut (1/4 cup)
- 50ml golden syrup (1/4 cup)
- 5 tbsp butter
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)
- Cut 8 circles of parchment paper of 6 in diameter. Butter each circle and place them on a baking tray.
- Mix the flour and coconut in a small bowl.
- In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and syrup.
- Cook for a couple of minutes, or until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and add to the flour mixture.
- Mix well with a wooden spoon until you have a uniform batter.
- Drop spoonfuls of batter into each paper round and place the baking tray into the oven.
- Bake for 8 minutes, turning the tray halfway through.
- Remove the tray from the oven and let the biscuits cool for a couple of minutes, until they start to firm up.
- Start shaping them: for the baskets, carefully pick up one paper circle and wrap it around the bottom of a small cup/bowl. Let is set for up to a minute, until you feel it is firm enough to hold its shape. Transfer the basket to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the cannoli, use the same method, but wrap the hot dough around a whisk handle – or, more logically, a cannoli mould if you have one!
If the dough starts getting too cold and lose flexibility, place them in the oven again for just a few seconds until they’re soft enough again.
Coconut Caramel Sauce:
- 4 tbsp butter
- 60g light brown sugar (1/2 cup)
- 100 ml coconut milk (1/2 cup)
- Mix all 3 ingredients in a heavy based saucepan.
- On a medium heat, bring it to the boil and let it cook for about 4 minutes, until you have a thick golden brown sauce.
- Allow it to cool before serving.