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Go bananas! It's always the right time of year for this frozen treat

By Wolfgang Puck, Tribune Content Agency on

I know fans of frozen desserts that will go out in a snowstorm for a scoop of their favorite flavor. If you love ice cream, you'll eat it no matter what the weather is like. So, even though summer is still months away, it's ice cream season now (and always).

The same doesn't always go for ice cream flavors based on fruit. Sure, you can go into the supermarket or a big-chain ice cream shop and get strawberry or cherry ice cream any time of year, even though those flavors depend on late-spring or early-summer fruit. But, for the best homemade fruit-flavored ice cream, I prefer to use fresh, in-season produce.

One particular fruit, though, is reliable virtually any time of year: the banana. Grown in the humid tropics, bananas are always in season and almost never disappoint you; unless, that is, all you can find are green bananas, which will still ripen to brown-speckled yellow skins within three to four days.

I love to use bananas to make ice cream, because the fruit itself has a smooth, creamy consistency already very much like that of the frozen dessert itself. And they become so sweet when fully ripened that you need to add very little sugar to sweeten the ice cream mixture itself. In fact, the bananas even benefit from a hint of sour tanginess from a generous dollop of sour cream to balance out the fruit's sugars

To get the fullest, sweetest banana flavor in the recipe for my banana sour cream ice cream, you must make absolutely certain that you use very ripe bananas; so ripe, in fact, that their skins are uniformly brown, with barely a hint of yellow. Start by buying the ripest-looking bananas you can find in the market. To speed up ripening, detach those you plan to use from whatever bunch you've purchased, and put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag at room temperature. The bag will contain the ethylene gas bananas naturally emit as they ripen, speeding up the process. You can even boost the process by adding to the bag an apple or a tomato, both of which also give off ethylene.

In addition to the sour cream in my recipe, I also enhance the banana flavor by including touches of two other compatible flavors: mellow honey and earthy, slightly astringent walnut extract. The result is a surprisingly complex-tasting yet still mild, even soothing treat.

 

What could be better? Add to each serving a generous drizzle of my simple bittersweet chocolate sauce. The result is like having a fantastic chocolate-covered frozen banana in a bowl!

BANANA SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (1/2 L)

8 large egg yolks

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