Kitchen Intuition: Dairy-free ice cream

Authored By aliceodea

After recently experimenting with using bananas to make two-ingredient cookies (which were delicious) and pancakes (which were not good), I still needed to use up the last few bananas, so I decided to give a two-ingredient ice cream a try. After the pancakes, I was a little skeptical of yet another banana recipe, so I started out small and only used one piece of fruit. I didn’t want to end up with a lot of this stuff if it didn’t turn out well.

I’ve been playing with ice cream recipes on and off for a few years now (ever since I discovered that my ice cream maker didn’t work anymore). Every once in a while, a recipe and/or gadget would cross my radar claiming that it’s possible to make ice cream without some sort of an ice cream maker. I’ve never bothered with the gadgets (which were either too expensive or not very well-reviewed), but I’ve been willing to give the recipes a try now and again. I’ve never been very impressed with the results-that is, until now. This is some really good ice cream, with a great taste and a wonderful, smooth and creamy texture.

The two ingredients are bananas and peanut butter, and really, you could skip the peanut butter, but I think the banana needs something else to be there-where I found the combination of banana and egg for the pancakes to be off-putting, the blending of banana and peanut butter produced a fabulous flavor. The prep was quick, though the bananas did need to be frozen ahead of time, so a bit of planning is required.

The recipes I browsed called for just a little peanut butter per banana, so this is not as big a dietary splurge as you’d expect from typical versions of ice cream, which-even when homemade-can often contain a lot of unhealthy fats and refined sugars. And commercial ice creams also commonly contain emulsifiers, stabilizers and other ingredients that might be better avoided.

I made a batch using a single banana and about half a tablespoon of peanut butter (I eyeballed it). It produced more ice cream than I could eat in one sitting, though, split in two, it would probably be small servings. As per the instructions, I froze banana slices (the internet says this takes at least two hours but that they should preferably be left overnight). I put them in the freezer a day ahead of time. Then, I tossed them in a container, added the peanut butter and used a stick blender to smooth things out. The blender struggled a bit and I had to stir things around a few times to make sure all the banana slices were mixed, but it managed. On a second attempt, I tried using a food processor, but although it did reduce the size of the banana pieces, I still had to switch to the blender in order to get a smooth result.

Once everything was blended, I had a spoonful and it was creamy and delicious. It was not quite as thin as soft-serve ice cream, but definitely less firm than ice cream that has been in the freezer. I enjoyed a good-sized sample before I put a top on my bowl and stuck it in the freezer to see what would happen. A few hours later, I took it out, and it was quite firm and not nearly as creamy as it had been right out of the blender. It was still a tasty treat, though, and after a few minutes of sitting in a warm room, it softened to a pleasing texture. For the batch pictured, I also melted some dark chocolate to put on top (which is also a quick and simple one- or two-ingredient prep!).

The best part about this is that I was able to make just a little bit. My husband and I are not dessert eaters; in fact, we’ve actually had ice cream go bad before we could get through all of it. This is a great way to make a small batch and have it be nice and fresh every time. I think this is going to become a staple when the heat of the summer arrives-a whole bowl of ice cream with all the nutrition of fruit and nut butter!

Alice O’Dea has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years, but was raised among the mucks and dairy farms in rural western New York. She didn’t really learn to cook until midlife. When she’s not puttering around in the kitchen, she enjoys running, cycling, traveling, photography and trying to get food to grow in the backyard of her Highland Park home. You can email her with questions, suggestions or comments at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.