Bri must be smiling….
She knows I’d LOVE to find an excuse to eat organic gourmet ice cream for breakfast! But, REALLY…I didn’t. It’s just the way I time ice cream prep, often running our Cuisinart ice cream freezer first thing in the morning, so the soft frozen ice cream will have a chance to harden during the day for an after-dinner indulgence.
The bananas Bill buys vast quantities of have been ripening rather quickly the past few weeks. He prefers them unspotted on the slightly unripe, green-tasting side. (Who knows why?) Anyway, the bananas keep ripening way past his preference level and I just HAD to do something with them.
Decided to make one of our favorite ice creams: Banana Rum. As usual, my starting point is a recipe from ‘The Ultimate Ice Cream Book’ by Bruce Weinstein embellished with my own variations and, as always, eggless.
* 1/2 cup organic cane or turbinado sugar
NOTE: For a special variation, added in a Tablespoon of sugar mixed with a drop of Nutmeg Essential Oil. Could have added another drop for a more distinct flavor.
* 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
* 2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
* 1-1/4 cups half ‘n half
* 2 large VERY RIPE bananas
1 cup heavy whipping cream
* 1 teaspoon double strength vanilla (Penzy’s)
* 1/8 cup dark rum
1. HOLD 1/2 cup of half ‘n half aside for mixing with the cornstarch.
2. PUT the rest of the half ‘n half into a medium saucepan with the sugar & salt. HEAT ’til slight bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, stirring so the sugar and salt blend in.
3. PUT cornstarch into a small bowl. ADD half ‘n half slowly, mixing well, so there are no lumps. Once the cornstarch is blended, add that liquid to the warmed half ‘n half.
4. COOK over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mix is smooth and thickened to a visibly silky texture. Turn off heat.
5. ADD 1/8 cup dark rum & vanilla. STIR to mix. Let cool to lukewarm.
6. MASH the ripe bananas in a bowl with a fork or in a blender ’til utterly smooth.
7. ADD to the lukewarm half ‘n half mixture. ADD the liquid heavy cream. STIR well.
8. COOL lidded saucepan of prepared custard in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
NOTE: I always do this part in the evening, letting the ice cream mixture cool to room temperature before refrigerating it overnight.
First thing the next morning, I set up my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, getting the frozen canister out of the freezer and setting it on the motor knob.
9. Carefully pour in the chilled ice cream mixture, so it doesn’t splash (and freeze) on the rim or edges of the canister. Set the mixing paddle into the mix and pop on the clear lid.
10. Turn on the ice cream maker, then set your kitchen timer for 25 minutes. Occasionally, the freezing process takes 35 minutes, but rarely. Once you’ve made several batches, you’ll be able to tell when the ice cream’s done and soft-frozen by the sound of the motor as the mixture thickens and freezes.
11. Transfer the soft-frozen ice cream to freezer safe containers. And chill all day. The ice cream will be firm-frozen by mid-afternoon or by dinner time.
NOTE: A soft rubber spatula comes in handy so you don’t scratch the canister’s non-stick coating. Enjoy licking off the beater & canister drippings before clean-up!
Once you experience how EASY it is to make your own organic gourmet ice creams…and discover what a fantastic difference concocting your own makes…your culinary creativity will blossom! And you’ll be hooked.
~ Dried banana chips make a nice garnish & add a crunchy contrast.
~ A drizzle of dark rum heightens the flavor subtly if you don’t overdo it.
NOTE: If I had thought of it in advance, making a reduction of the rum into a syrup might have been quite nice….and instead of lightly glazing the ice cream and puddling underneath, may have clung to the surface a bit more for an even handsomer presentation.
* * * * *
If you’re a food blogger, the process doesn’t end yet with that longed for delicious scoop (or two) of homemade ice cream…
NOW, the main feature shot for your ice cream blog post has to be styled AND photographed. In professional food photography, the photo set-up is done with a stand-in called ‘The Hero.’ Professional photographers usually work with a photographic assistant and a creative food stylist as well. No such luck here at home.
Even Bri used to recruit (ie. charm, wrangle, coerce) Marc, into being her set-up-stylist-photographer. Only a year into FWB blogging myself, I usually ‘wing-it’ alone with impromptu plating set-ups; hand-held, available light shots enhanced with cookie sheet reflectors or mirrors to brighten secondary shadows.
Ice cream, especially homemade ice cream without commercial fixers, melts quickly…and is a demanding subject, I’m still working on mastering. So, I used a ‘hero’ this time.
Appetizing! Don’t you think? Grabbed our cat’s hair & lint covered fleece animal print balls (perfectly sized pseudo ‘ice cream scoops’), plopped them into a different glass than the one I was planning to use for the final shot. Honestly, I did…. and checked some initial exposure readings.
Then took several shots: vertical & horizontal format, with a short depth of field vs. more over all focus. The daylight was changing quickly as the sun came up and illuminated my photography area differently.
Have included several of my favorite shots to illustrate how photos taken only a few moments apart can vary….and to get your opinions on them.
In this shot (above) the sun wasn’t shining onto the food directly. I used an aluminum cookie sheet (on the left side) to catch the sunlight and direct it back onto the food.
In this next photo, it’s only natural daylight…without a reflector, which I couldn’t prop & hold while taking the overhead shot.
Marc made a great suggestion: to hold the cookie sheet reflector down low and bounce the sunlight back up to illuminate the shadowed areas I was missing by keeping the reflector on the same level as the food grouping.
I frequently ask my family for friendly critiques and their votes to help me select the final photos for my posts. Both Marc and David liked this last one best. Marc thought I should have used yellow unspotted bananas, instead of the ripe ones this recipe specifically asks for. Bill, my hubby, preferred the intro feature shot, but criticized the softness of the ice cream after I drizzled rum on it. He wanted to see more of the ice cream crystals.
I like them all, for subtle differences. Sooo…what do YOU think?