What can I share about bananas that hasn’t been said a zillion times already? They’re curved, yellow-skinned and white-fleshed with microscopic, black seeds running through their centers. They’re high in potassium and Vitamin B6 and more or less fat-free. They’re also soft, tasty and perishable. But I bet you already knew that.
If you’ve ever eaten one in the tropics, you realize how spectacularly sweet and rich locally grown bananas taste. You likewise understand that this tropical fruit doesn’t come in one color and size only. Red, orange, golden yellow or green-striped, they vary in size from around 2 1/2 to 12 inches.
Bananas originated in Southeast Asia. Perhaps this is why the best bananas I’ve eaten have been along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. The length of a pen, their diminutiveness belies their powerful, candy-like flavor. As much as I love dessert, I’d happily skip ice cream, cake or pie and cap off my evening meal with one of these little gems.
Why all this talk of bananas? Thanks to over a dozen ripe bananas and only one banana fanatic in my household, I’ve been baking and cooking with this fruit all week. As a result, I’m passing along not one but two banana-rich recipes, Banana Date Bread and Banana Ice Cream with Honey Sauce. You can eat each independent of the other or put them together and enjoy a glorious year-round treat, Banana Ice Cream-Banana Date Bread Sandwiches with Honey Sauce.
BANANA DATE BREAD
Makes 1 9″x5″ loaf
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup chopped dried dates
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until fluffy in texture, another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat until blended and crumbly in texture. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
With a spatula or spoon fold in the mashed bananas and dates and gently stir until just combined. Evenly spread the batter in the greased loaf pan.
Bake the bread for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack before removing the bread from the pan and placing it back on the rack. Allow the bread to cool completely before serving.
BANANA ICE CREAM WITH HONEY SAUCE
Makes 3 cups
5 ripe bananas
1 cup skim milk
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, for the sauce
1/4 cup honey, for the sauce
Place the bananas, milk, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If you have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for making ice cream. If not, pour the mixture into a freezer-proof bowl and place it in the freezer, removing periodically to stir the mixture until it resembles the texture of ice cream.
To make the honey sauce for topping the ice cream/ice cream sandwich, melt two tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the honey. Pour over the ice cream.
To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, take one slice of banana bread and cut it in half. Place one scoop of ice cream between the two halves. Repeat for the desired number of ice cream sandwiches. At this point you can either cover and place the sandwiches in the freezer until you’re ready to eat or gobble them right away with a spoonful of honey sauce over top.