Banana pudding ice cream

I lived in North Carolina for four years, and during that time, I developed a deep appreciation for the local cuisine. Obviously, barbecue was the shining star of the region. But you know what else is excellent? Banana pudding.

Banana pudding is deceptively simple. It is comprised of layers of sweetened vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, and vanilla wafer cookies with a meringue or whipped cream topping. It is creamy and sweet, and remarkably, tastes like it is made with actual banana pudding.

So I thought, why not translate this sweet treat into an ice cream? I drew inspiration from the original item and combined two of David Lebovitz’s ice cream recipes from The Perfect Scoop. I used a classic vanilla ice cream recipe for a base, which marked my first encounter with a real vanilla bean:

(It is kind of gross looking, but has a great smell and taste). 

I incorporated roasted bananas and vanilla wafer cookies into this delicious base.

The result? A deeply flavorful, sweet ice cream that replicates the taste of banana pudding better than I had dared to hope.

Here’s how you get there–

Ingredients

3 bananas
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups vanilla wafer cookies, crumbled into medium-sized pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice 3 bananas into 1/2-inch pieces and toss them with brown sugar and butter in a baking dish (I used a glass Pyrex pie dish).
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring once. They should look approximately like those in the picture above. Bake longer if necessary. Allow bananas to cool completely.
  4. Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean into the mixture, then put the vanilla bean in the pan. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes.
  5. Set the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium bowl. Prepare a large bowl with ice water with a medium-sized bowl suspended within it. Set a mesh strainer over this empty bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Poor the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly, and then pour the entire mixture back into the pan.
  7. Stir the mixture over medium heat with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. When the mixture thickens, poor into the bowl with cream. Stir briefly, then pour the entire mixture through the mesh strainer and into the bowl suspended in ice water. Push as much of the mixture through the strainer as possible.
  8. Put the vanilla bean into the custard and add the vanilla. Stir until cool in the ice bath, then chill the mixture for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  9. Before churning, remove the vanilla bean. Then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the instructions.
  10. In the last few minutes of churning, add the vanilla wafer cookies.
  11. Pour the soft frozen mixture into a wide-bottomed container (I use a long rectangular tupperware) and put in the freezer. After it has solidified, transfer to a vertical ice cream container.
  12. For a true banana pudding experience, serve with sliced bananas and whipped cream.
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