DIY Banana Ice Cream: Good For Kids, Great For Adults

Apr 15, 2016

If you have seen the show "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" — or, in other words, if you have infant children — you probably know about "banana swirl." Or, you should, according to Rachel Ciordas.

"Mothers who listen [to this segment] are either going to love me or hate me for mentioning this," Ciordas laughs as she launches into the tale that introduced her family to this beloved dessert.

Among a series of episodes dedicated to introducing children to foods they are unfamiliar with, or might not yet want to eat in their young, stubborn phase, the main character Daniel Tiger and his friends learn how to make ice cream out of bananas.

"My kids want to do what they see on TV, obviously," Ciordas says with a smile. "Plus this little guy, my younger child, has a lot of allergies and can't eat most kinds of ice cream. While there are many ways to make ice cream at home, a lot of the dairy-free are really labor intensive or they take weird ingredients that you might not want to eat, or might not want to have around."

Blended frozen banana on its own creates a texture that bares surprising resemblance to dairy based ice cream. It scoops like ice cream, and it even holds up in a cone.
Credit Rachel Ciordas

Making banana swirl soon became a daily routine in the Ciordas household.

The process is simple. And, in its most basic form, the recipe only has one ingredient: bananas. Preferably, ripe bananas. You can use green bananas too, Ciordas says, but the longer you let them age, the sweeter and creamier the ice cream.

After letting them freeze for at least an hour, throw them in a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. After that, you can transform the recipe however you'd like.

Here are some of Ciordas' riffs on the ice cream, including more detailed recommendations for the base recipe:

Banana Ice Cream

4 large ripe bananas

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel the bananas, slice them, and freeze for at least one hour, or overnight. Blend the frozen bananas in a food processor or powerful blender. Keep blending — the banana will look crumbly and make you think it’s not going to work.

Scrape down the food processor. Keep blending. Suddenly the banana will start to smooth out into a creamy soft serve texture. Add salt and vanilla extract. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid, unless you can’t wait, then just eat it.

Mix-in Ideas

  • ¼ cup of peanut butter, Nutella, or another nut butter
  • ¼ cup of frozen strawberries, blueberries, or peaches
  • Drizzle of honey or maple syrup
  • Handful of chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons of liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons chopped herbs like mint or basil
  • Nuts like almonds, pistachios or pecans
  • ¼ cup of cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg, cinnamon, or cardamom
  • Chopped dried fruit or candied ginger

Almond Praline Chip Banana Ice Cream

4 large ripe bananas

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

1 cup roasted salted almonds

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons amaretto

½ cup chopped dark chocolate

Peel the bananas, slice them, and freeze for at least one hour, or overnight. Put sugar and water in small sauce pan over medium high heat, and boil sugar syrup until it is a light to medium brown (6-8 minutes).

Remove from heat and stir in almonds. Spread praline almond mixture on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner to cool. Follow blending instructions from above recipe.

Add salt, extracts, amaretto, and chocolate. Pulse blender or food processor just to combine. Chop cooled almond praline into small pieces. Stir praline through ice cream mixture. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until solid, unless you can’t wait, then just eat it!

Andrea Tudhope is a freelance contributor for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @adtudhope.