Banana bread is one of my favorite uses for overripe bananas and I combined my classic recipe with homemade butter pecan ice cream to bring you a decadent treat. The banana bread and ice cream are both delicious on their own but together, well, it’s a heavenly match!
It’s time once again for the Improv Cooking Challenge. This month’s two “secret” ingredients were bread and butter. In contrast to the cheese and crackers challenge last month, which I found a bit tough since I’m not a huge cheese eater, this one was a challenge because I LOVE bread and I had a difficult time deciding whether to make a traditional bread with a fancy butter or do something a little more out there. I ended up with “out there” with banana BREAD and BUTTER pecan ice cream which was definitely worth it.
I started off making my favorite banana bread recipe. This is my mom’s recipe and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it but it always comes out perfect. I often use chocolate chips instead of nuts but this time I went with chopped pecans to play into the flavors of the ice cream. Definitely use overripe bananas, the browner the better. They tend to be sweeter and help to create a moist flavorful loaf of bread.
Then I moved onto the butter pecan ice cream. I made a nutty brown butter by melting unsalted butter until golden and fragrant. I added in dark brown sugar and cooked over low heat until it liquified, then I poured in half-and-half. I cannot overemphasize the importance of constantly stirring during this entire process because it is very easy for this mixture to burn and when the cold half-and-half is poured in, the melted sugar can solidify quickly, resulting in hard caramel pieces which is not what you’re looking for in this recipe.
Once it was all combined, I poured the mixture slowly into two beaten eggs in a mixing bowl, still stirring constantly to avoid scrambled eggs. I returned the mixture to the saucepan, then stirred until it began to thicken. I strained the mixture (it’s hard to totally avoid scrambled eggs and this process takes them out from your final product) then stirred in light cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract. I poured the mixture into my ice cream maker and froze it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, adding in pecan halves toward the end of the freezing process. This butter pecan ice cream has deep caramel undertones and a creamy texture with a delightful crunch from the pecan pieces.
I then put together the ice cream sandwiches, carefully slicing the cooled banana bread and sandwiching slightly softened butter pecan ice cream between each piece. The sweetness of the bananas combined with the deep caramel flavor of the ice cream and the texture of the pecans was perfect. The dessert is reminiscent of bananas foster, just colder! Both the banana bread and the butter pecan ice cream are each perfect all on their own and I’ve certainly made them separately in the past, but for the ‘bread and butter” challenge, they were the ideal combination and such a tasty treat!
Banana Bread Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches (ice cream recipe adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks, and More)
Yield: 1 loaf of banana bread and approximately 1 quart of ice cream
For banana bread:
nonstick cooking spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 average sized bananas)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the bananas and sugar. Add in the egg and butter and stir to blend. Combine the liquid and dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add in the chopped nuts or chocolate chips.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes until the bread starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
For the butter pecan ice cream:
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 cups light cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat until it becomes golden brown and smells mildly nutty. Add in the brown sugar and continue stirring constantly over low heat until it melts, taking care not to let it burn. Then add in the half-and-half and bring to a simmer.
3. Slowly beat the half-and-half mixture into the beaten eggs, stirring constantly to avoid scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over heat, still stirring constantly, until it thickens into a custard. Be careful to avoid boiling.
4. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl. Let custard cool slightly, then stir in the cream, vanilla, and almond extract.
5. Depending on your ice cream maker, you may need to refrigerate the mixture until cold/overnight at this point. Then pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add in the nuts toward the end of the freezing process.
For the ice cream sandwiches:
Let the banana bread fully cool. Spread slightly softened butter pecan ice cream between two slices. Revel in deliciousness!
Check out more bread and butter recipes here: