It is a personal tragedy that I rarely go to local dessert places. (Besides snowball stands, of course, which, if you don’t frequent, you don’t belong in New Orleans.) But I’ll see in the newspaper or hear about cutesy little places serving sweets that are supposedly excellent but that I never test for myself. I guess it’s a combination of apprehensive laziness and realizing I could make what they are serving for cheaper (since they are usually ridiculously overpriced) and often, better. (Modesty here, y’know.)
I actually went to one of these kind of places, the trendy Sucre, a few years ago. As I recall, the store (or “sweet boutique” as it’s called, whatever that means) had all sorts of tempting pretty pretty desserts–individual cakes and tarts, delicate powdered-sugar dusted pastries, artisanal chocolates, homemade candy, cupcakes (this is a fashionable establishment, after all), their signature French macarons, and gelato and sorbet. I had a rich, creamy banana nutella gelato and mentally bookmarked the flavor combination to try at home.
Which, in a timely fashion, I’m only getting around to doing my own spin on now. I crunched together David Lebovitz’s recipe for roasted banana ice cream with Jeni Britton Bauer’s recipe for banana ice cream (she also includes bits of caramelized white chocolate…yes yes yes for another time) and swirled in some nutella. It’s very much a bold bananas foster-esque ice cream with addictive swirls of nutella that melt in your mouth. I don’t really remember how the original tasted, but I sure like this version. I should go out for dessert more often–all in the name of research and inspiration.
Jeni has a very unique way of making ice cream. She forgoes the typical French custard-style and instead relies on an egg-less base using cornstarch and cream cheese to thicken and corn syrup to give it the perfect texture. It’s precise yet easier to approach than the typical ice cream methods. I’m sold.
My nutella was at room temperature when I tried to swirl it in, and it hardened too quickly when it came in contact with the cold ice cream, forming large chunks. Delicious, but if you’d like more swirl, warm the nutella so it’s easier to swirl in. Also, I was happily surprised that the nutella was not rock-hard when frozen and instead melted in my mouth.
Makes about 1 quart
2 ripe but firm medium bananas, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup (70 g) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (5 ounces) Nutella
Roast the bananas: Preheat oven to 400° F. Arrange banana slices in a single layer in the bottom of a baking dish (I used a square 9-inch Pyrex dish; Lebovitz suggests a 2-quart dish). Sprinkle the brown sugar and butter on top the bananas. Bake for about 35 minutes, stirring once during baking, until the bananas are caramelized and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Prep: Whisk 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth–make sure there are no lumps.
Fill a large bowl with ice and a little water.
Cook: In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a rolling boil (meaning all the liquid, even the center, is boiling vigorously) over medium-high heat, and continue boiling for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back up to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula or a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla.
Chill: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
Puree bananas and the syrup they formed in a food processor until smooth. Whisk the bananas into the hot cream mixture.
Pour the ice cream base into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the (tightly!) sealed bag in the ice bath. Let the mixture chill, adding more if needed, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Freeze: Pour the ice base into the ice cream machine and spin until thick and creamy.
Heat the nutella just until it’s warm and pourable. Pack half the ice cream into a storage container, dollop and swirl in half the nutella, and repeat with the remaining ice cream and nutella. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream, and seal the container airtight. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Let the ice cream soften slightly before serving.