My current obsession with making ice cream has brought me down an inevitable road – alternative milk.
The main reason I’m venturing into the world of non-dairy is not for my health (though this is certainly much healthier than the cream and full-fat milk concoctions that usually fill my ice cream container), but in the name of flavor. I heard that you could just mash ripe bananas and freeze them as a vegan faux ice cream, so I figured I’d add a little coconut milk and see what happened.
I’ve mentioned my current favorite book a few times already, but I need to give another shout-out to The Flavor Bible. I used it to come up with the little extra touches that made this dessert more interesting. For example, the homemade chocolate-covered candied ginger bits. And the pretty much indetectable cardamom and clove.
Admittedly, this recipe isn’t perfect. The final product has some pretty crunchtacular ice crystals despite the generous amount of rum. It may be my fault for not being home to obsessively check and stir it myself, but I don’t want to blame Z for being on his own while I was out grocery shopping, visiting my parents and delivering tasty cookies to friends. He doesn’t mind the crunchiness but I do. It’s still refreshing and awesomely tasty, though.
EDIT: While watching an episode of Iron Chef (Battle Melon with a Frozen Twist) I realized the large crystals are probably due to the lack of added sugar in the recipe. Alton mentioned sugar prohibits the formation of large crystals when freezing. So there you go. You could add sugar if you want but I like the flavor the way it is.
Coconut Banana “Ice Cream” with Chocolate-Covered Ginger
First, Make Some Candied Ginger, BUT…
Instead of cutting thin slices, cut the ginger into little 1/4″ pieces. Once candied, don’t dust with sugar or allow to dry – melt some bittersweet chocolate (about 4 oz.) in a double boiler and arrange the ginger on a slotted spoon, then drizzle the ginger with the chocolate until thoroughly enrobed (yes, this will take several batches, if you think of a better way to do this, then go for it). Arrange on parchment to allow chocolate to harden, then seal in an air-tight container until ready to use. You’ll need around 1/3 cup to mix in, but I won’t get mad if you snack a little too much, because these are TASTY.
Then, Make the Ice Cream:
- 1 can (about 14 oz.) coconut milk
- 2-3 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed
- About 10 whole cloves
- 2 very ripe bananas
- 2 Tbsp light rum
- 1/4 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
- 1/3 cup chocolate-covered candied ginger bits
Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and add the cardamom and cloves. Bring just to a low boil, then allow to steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain out the spices and pour the coconut milk into a blender. Add the bananas, cut into rough chunks, and blend until completely smooth. Add the rum and blend for a couple seconds to evenly incorporate it. Pour into a freezable container (or an ice cream machine, in which case proceed however the instructions tell you to), seal and freeze for 2-3 hours, or until some of the mixture begins to freeze to the sides of the container. Scrape and stir thoroughly, then repeat once every hour until it is thick enough to stir in the coconut and ginger without it sinking or floating. After that it should be firm enough to scoop.
If I made this again I might try the following:
- add some real cream
- grind the spices and add them instead of steeping (which didn’t really work)
- stir it more frequently
- use an ice cream machine to ensure it gets churned evenly enough
Overall, though, this is a really refreshing frozen treat that is relatively healthy and even vegan if you use vegan chocolate (please no carob) or just forego the chocolate coating on the ginger. Which would be ok, but not as good. The banana makes it wonderfully sweet, the coconut provides a chewy, lasting flavor and the ginger and chocolate give it a nice bite and some chewy-crunchy textural interest.
Be prepared for more coconut (and probably more banana, too) around here in the coming weeks. I just got a giant jar of coconut oil FREE from Tropical Traditions.
Also, more alternative milk ice creams will be experimented with. Think of all the delicious things you could pair with soy, rice, almond, oat…or goat (milk, that is). Have you ever made alternative ice creams? What’s the secret? MORE booze?