For the longest time, I disliked bananas. I didn’t know why I was so blindly prejudiced against them until my mom shared a story with me from when I was little. Apparently when I was first starting to talk, I kept saying “na-na… na-na.” My mom thought that I wanted a banana, so she dutifully cut one up and fed it to me. Again, I said, “na-na… na-na” so my mom, thinking I really wanted another banana, fed me another one. This apparently went on over a number of days until finally, a frustrated me started screaming and crying as another banana was about to be fed to me: “NOOOOO NA-NA NA-NA!” only this time I was frantically pointing at myself. My mom then realized that I was trying to say my name, ChristiNA… ChristiNA. What can I say? It’s a long name and my baby tongue did with it what it could.
Today, bananas and I still aren’t BFFs, but I don’t hate them with quite as much vitriol as I did while growing up. When I want a banana though, I usually only like it in either of two ways– with peanut butter on a sandwich or with caramel on ice cream. So with a recent gift of an ice cream making attachment in my hot little hands and a book that gives instructions on the basic ratio for pate a choux clear in my mind, I thought about experimenting with dessert: why not take your normal profiterole (cream puffs made with vanilla ice cream and doused in warm chocolate sauce) and change it up a little; dare I say, try combining it with another favorite ice cream treat– the banana split.
I caramelized pieces of a large banana with light brown sugar and butter then added it to a basic custard base, letting the whole mixture chill for a few hours before introducing it to my ice cream maker. The introduction of a strawberry sauce to the mixing process sadly did not make a bright and pretty red swirl as hoped but instead, mixed into the custard turning the whole thing into a rather unattractive almost fleshy colored ice cream. mmmm… flesh ice cream. (gag) But John and I quickly got over the nasty color when we tasted it and found it to be very fresh and fruity. Unfortunately, we had to wait until the next night for the ice cream to harden before it could fulfill its profiterole destiny, but the ice cream made lovely little scoops, nestled between two halves of each adorable puffy profiterole. A pool of leftover strawberry sauce and a rich chocolate ganache finished the whole thing off. I can’t say enough about how much I loved this dessert: the profiteroles were so airy yet crisp on the outside providing a nice textural contrast to the silky rich sauces while the fruity flavors of the ice cream made the whole thing refreshing, rather than heavy. Yes, this dessert took two days to make, but most of it is inactive time so it doesn’t feel like much work. The only issue really is having patience, but this is such a simple, yet classy dessert that you’ll be well rewarded for the wait in the end.
- 1 large banana, cut into 2 inch segments
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 package frozen strawberries, thawed
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Pate a Choux
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 large eggs
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
1. Make the ice cream custard. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the banana, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon and gently saute until banana pieces have softened and are a light, golden color, about 5-10 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth then set aside. In a small sauce pan, heat the milk, heavy cream, and sugar, stirring occasionally, until it just comes to a boil. In the meantime, lightly beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl. When the cream mixture has just come to a boil, slowly pour about half of it into the eggs, whisking the entire time then add that mixture back to the remaining cream in the sauce pan. Continue to cook over medium heat until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon and you are able to draw a line down it with your finger without the cream slipping back to make the line disappear (or until an instant read thermometer registers 170 degrees F.) Stir in the banana paste and pour the whole custard into a bowl and store it in your fridge for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
2. Make the strawberry sauce. Blitz together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice until mostly smooth with just a few small strawberry pieces. Reserve in an airtight container until ready to use.
3. Freeze the ice cream. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer instructions, pouring in about 1/3 of the strawberry sauce as the ice cream mixes. Store in an air tight container and freeze over night so the ice cream can harden.
4. Make the pate a choux. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat or with parchment paper. In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring the water, butter and salt to a simmer over high heat then reduce the heat to medium. Add the flour, stirring constantly as the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Keep stirring for a minute or two then add the dough into the bottom of a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or using your hand mixer, beat the dough to help it cool down for a couple of minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, until eggs are completely absorbed into the dough. Take a large freezer storage bag and snip off about 1/4 inch off a corner. Turn the sides of the bag down and carefully scoop in the pate a choux. Seal the bag, making sure to squeeze out any air and squish the dough down towards your improvised tip. Gently pipe out the profiteroles by making a swirl that is about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until puffs are golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
5. Make the chocolate ganache. In a small microwave proof bowl, heat the chocolate chips and cream on high power for 30-40 seconds. Mix well until chocolate is uniformly incorporated into cream. If sauce is too runny, chill in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
6. To serve, line each plate with three pate a choux puffs, that you’ve carefully split in half. Using a small ice cream scoop that you’ve run under hot water, place a small scoop of the ice cream on the bottom of each puff and place the matching puff lid on top. Spoon on the strawberry and chocolate sauce to taste.