Banana Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib Freckles & Toasted Maple Walnuts

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Banana, Cocoa Nib & Toasted Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Sweet banana, crunchy cocoa nibs & toasty maple walnuts

What’s your favourite thing to do with a blackened banana?

Breads, cakes, cookies, muffins and smoothies are all pretty wonderful ways to use up an overripe banana or two. The ice cream I’m sharing today is even better. But to be honest, I’d be happy if you made any of the items listed above, as long as your bananas don’t end up in the bin.

Banana, Cocoa Nib & Toasted Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Serve this sweet, smooth, crunchy ice cream in generous scoops

With people around the world dying of starvation and plenty (in fact, shockingly, more) suffering from obesity, the paradox is that somewhere in between these two extremes we’re throwing away an insane amount of food each year. 7.2 million tons in the UK alone, to be precise. Or to look at it from an international perspective, roughly a third of our total global food production.

Food waste is a pretty hot topic right now and this month Think.Eat.Save was launched as part of a worldwide campaign to address our culture of waste. That’s everything from portion control to turning the taps off after use, buying quantities of food you’ll actually eat, understanding what a sell-by date really means and learning to love your leftovers.

Banana, Cocoa Nib & Toasted Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Scatter with cocoa nibs for additional crunch

I don’t want this to turn into an overly preachy post. While I love the frugality (not to mention superior flavour) of making my own chicken stock or blitzing stale bread into crumbs, I’m pretty guilty when it comes to portion control. Never knowingly under-catered seems to be some sort of motto whenever I’m feeding a crowd and while I’ll eat leftovers up to a point, I’ve been known to occasionally empty a groaning fridge of its cling-filmed contents in a fit of spring-cleaning fury. That my parents were still eating their way through party food for what seemed like weeks after our engagement celebrations is something I’m pretty impressed by, but not necessarily something I’d do.

Of course nobody’s perfect. But, like recycling or conserving energy or any of the other little things we’re asked to do on a daily basis where we feel our individual impact may be negligible, we can make a difference. To quote a company which may well be one of the biggest contributors to our food waste problems with its strict sell by dates and two-for-one offers, every little helps, and if you can make even the smallest reduction in food waste and create something delicious in the process, I think it would be churlish not to try.

Banana, Cocoa Nib & Toasted Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Pureed banana gives this ice cream a gorgeous, rich flavour

Which brings me back to blackened bananas. In an attempt to salvage these speckled specimens, the majority of people tend to turn to baking. Mashed up banana makes a wonderfully moist loaf, reduces the need for copious amounts of butter and bakes up into a squidgy, sweet treat that’s also the perfect vehicle for delivering chocolate chips under the vague pretext of healthiness. What people don’t tend to do is make ice cream. Especially when they live in the UK, the temperature outside has dropped below zero and the house is surrounded by a blanket of snow.

But not everyone is quite as obsessed with ice cream as I am: I make no excuses for this recipe. Extra ripe bananas add an intense sweetness to the base, blending into a creamy treat that is cool like the snow outside but can be eaten cosily from the comfort of your sofa. Cocoa nibs add a sophisticated chocolaty kick and toasted maple walnuts impart a sticky, praline crunch without the addition of any overly processed sugar. It’s good. Really good, in fact, and a pretty delicious way to enjoy something that might have otherwise ended up in the bin.

Banana, Cocoa Nib & Toasted Maple Walnut Ice Cream

Banana, nuts & chocolate: the perfect combination

Banana Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib Freckles & Toasted Maple Walnuts (adapted from a recipe by Jeni Britton Bauer)
(makes about one litre of ice cream)

Ingredients:

For the maple walnuts
Large handful shelled walnuts
2 tbsp maple syrup

For the ice cream
475ml full fat milk
1 tbsp + 1tsp corn flour
3 tbsp cream cheese
Pinch salt
275ml double cream
120g sugar
2 tbsp honey
Seeds of one vanilla bean
2 medium ripe bananas, peeled
Handful cocoa nibs
Handful of maple walnuts (ingredients above), roughly chopped

Method:

For the maple walnuts
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.

Place the walnuts on one of the baking sheets and toast in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes then remove.

In a small saucepan, bring the maple syrup to the boil then add the walnuts. Boil for  minute or two until the walnuts begin to caramelize and the mixture becomes sticky. Pour onto your second prepared baking sheet in an single layer and set aside to cool.

For the ice cream
Mix 2 tbsp of the milk with the corn flour in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over a medium-high heat. Boil for four minutes then remove from the heat and gradually mix in the corn flour slurry.

Bring the mixture back to the boil over a medium-high heat and cook for about one minute until slightly thickened, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the vanilla seeds.

Cut the bananas into chunks and blend in a food processor. Combine with your hot cream mixture then set over an ice bath and stir until cool. Refrigerate overnight.

Churn the ice cream according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Layer in your chosen container with sprinkles of cocoa nibs and maple walnuts, smooth the top then freeze until firm.

IceCreamChallenge_thumb1I’m entering this recipe into the January Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge. Follow the link for lots more lovely ice cream recipes involving fruit and nuts!

35 RESPONSES TO Banana Ice Cream with Cocoa Nib Freckles & Toasted Maple Walnuts

  1. Amy -

    Wow, I definitely commend you for making ice cream in the dead of winter! Ice cream is always good though, and fitting now especially over a slice of a warm cake or tart. I don’t know why I haven’t tried making or ice cream with bananas– it looks luscious.

    And loved the “preachy” stuff! The amount of food waste in the world is just disgusting. Do you follow the zero waste home blog (zerowastehome.blogspot.com)? It’s pretty cool, with the entire premise of live with less, waste less. If you want to hear some really inspiring preachy stuff. ;)

    • Looks like a yummy recipe. Will make soon. :) D 34

  2. One of the benefits in living in Australia is that it is never too cold to eat ice cream and banana ice cream is fabulous. I sometimes roast the bananas first to intensify the flavour. I really like the idea of adding maple walnuts.

  3. Ang -

    I do freeze all my old, black bananas but have never made anything other than muffins. This would be a great alternative to try. Lovely pictures.

  4. This looks delicious and I’m not even an icecream person – I prefer just having the cone! Which yes is a little strange. Bananas are my favourite though so I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing

  5. Not that I needed anymore recipe ideas for my blackened bananas but this looks fatntastic. I am totally hooked on cacoa nib after picking up a 500g bag on my last trip to London and I love love walnuts.

    If I am not baking banana bread I typically freeze blackened (peeled) bananas and whizz them with a bit of milk in my food processor for a quick version of something akin banana soft serve – let’s just say your ice cream sounds a little more sophisticated and tastier ;-).

    • Amy – I really want to try ice cream with roasted bananas too, David Lebovitz has a recipe which looks awesome. Heading over to check out that blog now!

      Determined 34 – enjoy!

      Julia – sometimes I wish I lived in Australia :-)

      Ang – thank you. I normally fall back on a banana loaf so glad I tried something new!

      Bits of Nice – high praise indeed! Hope you do end up making it :-)

      Sophia – I have indeed, it fab! Also delicious with a bit of peanut butter or chocolate added in.

  6. Kate -

    Another great post. Another great ice cream. I am interested to see that this time you have gone for the cream cheese and cornflour method which I have seen a few times but not tried. How do you think it compares to the more traditional approach just using a standard custard base without these additions? Also, have you ever tried just freezing the bananas and then blitzing them when frozen for instant ice cream? It is fantastic! And the ultimate waste saver as it is just one ingredient! Ha ha – a waist saver too!

    • Thank you :-) The cream cheese method is good – it creates a lovely smooth ice cream without the rich custardy edge of one made with eggs. Overall I think ice creams made with eggs are still my favourite, but this is very good too.

  7. Susan -

    I’m so glad you posted this! I don’t own an ice cream maker (it’s On The List) but I get such vicarious joy (envy) reading your lovely posts. I love the sound of the bitter crunchy nibs with the sweet bananas and maple walnuts. I’m sure this is a wonderful ice cream.

    • I’ve been doing some research into no-churn ice creams as people often comment that they don’t have a machine. I’m not completely convinced by the condensed milk recipes I’ve seen around but promise to post when I have one I’m happy with!

  8. This looks absolutely divine :), and great minds think alike, as I was keeping some bananas aside to make Jeni’s banana ice cream! I love your adaptions, especially the walnuts and cocoa nibs. I was thinking of adding honeyed pecans to mine.

    And I’m so guilty of over catering too. I never like to see people go hungry, or have a lack of choice when I’m catering :D

  9. Kavey -

    I love banana bread (more cake really, not sure why we call it bread) made with really ripe bananas. If I only have one, I shove it into the freezer until I have enough to use for the cake.

    I put walnuts into my ice cream this month, made them into walnut brittle first… Banana would have worked so well with them too! Doh!

  10. You’re ice cream looks great! I haven’t tried cocoa nibs yet; I must do that soon.
    I store blackened bananas in the freezer. They’re great for smoothies.

  11. I generally add any blackened bananas I end up with into an oatmeal banana loaf, to flavour a banana banoffee cheesecake or I just simply mush them into porridge for an intense sweetness without the need to add my usual spoonful of demerara sugar. Your ice cream sounds like a delicious and sophisticated recipe for an ingredient which is often just thoughtless chucked away.

  12. Emma -

    this looks amazing! I am also obsessed with ice cream – it doesn’t matter that it’s freezing outside, I’ll happily eat ice cream whenever… the problem at the moment is that my ice cream maker won’t fit in my freezer because it’s too full :( think I’ll be rectifying the situation this weekend just so that I can make this ice cream :)

  13. Maple, walnuts, banana! Epic combo! I have to say I am a little guilty of leaving cling filmed items in the fridge until they are no longer a safe risk of eating, but it always seems a waste to chuck out the excess. I found a gadget from Lakeland that’s supposed to help keep things in your fridge fresher for longer so that could be useful too

    • Jennifer – honeyed pecans would be delicious, banana and nuts is such an awesome combination. I want to try this again soon with big chocolate chunks too.

      Kavey – any kind of nut praline/brittle gets my vote – yum!

      Stephanie – how do you store them? I put some in the freezer about a month ago and when they defrosted they were a disgusting mushy mess!

      Big Hungry Gnomes – now all I can think about is banoffee cheesecake :-)

      Emma – sounds like you need to eat up some of the stuff in your freezer and make some room!

      Becs – better to hang onto things and maybe use them than just offload everything into the bin!

  14. Linda -

    Thanks for bringing up this subject! There’s a lot more I can do to be less wasteful, that’s for sure (and we try, we really really do). Love that you decided to make banana ice cream instead of the usual suspects, and YUM to the cocoa nibs!

  15. Laura -

    Great post, it’s something we’ve got a lot better at in our house but could still do better. I love the sound of this ice cream – in fact I’ve got a few overripe bananas and some guests coming tomorrow and my son was asking how ice cream is made today. Sounds like a great activity for tomorrow. I love how you call the nibs freckles too.

  16. ElissaM -

    I’m with you on not wasting bananas. They are the easiest fruit to save! I peel them, break them in half and keep them in a freezer bag for baking and smoothies!

  17. ElissaM -

    Oh yeah…forgot to say your ice cream looks divine! I need an ice-cream maker :)

  18. Sarah -

    This looks lovely! There is a recipe circling the web at the moment, which is just bananas frozen and whazzed up. It’s a great quick treat, but not a patch on the real thang.

    • Linda – cocoa nibs are so good. I got a massive packet from Holland & Barrett really cheap so am showering them over everything at the moment :-)

      Laura – this is a slightly unconventional ice cream method but it would work wonderfully with a custard base too if you want to show that to your son.

      Elissa – that sounds like a very good idea!

      Sarah – I’ve tried that. It’s super banana-y and very delicious but I do like the texture you get from a bit of dairy.

      Averie – it’s a killer combination :-)

  19. You make so many good points in this post. Banana ice cream is the perfect alternative to the usual bread, and I love the additions here. I´ve pinned this recipe and will make it very, very soon!

  20. I admit, I’m not as careful as I should be when it comes to wasting food- cucumbers always turn into long, floppy, unusable creatures- before I can slice them up into a salad. Ripened bananas, however, are always put to happy use (usually in bread form!). This ice cream looks irresistible!

  21. Sara -

    Wooow, this ice cream looks great! As soon as heat comes here, I’ll make this!!!
    We always buy a lot of bananas, but after a few weeks they look black and yellow and unapealling, so this ice cream (besides lots of muffins, breads and cakes) will help me out in summer :D
    Also, I feel happy that other people care about the food waste in the world, at school we learnt about food waste and everyone got pretty impressed, so I hope that, as the future of the world, we’ll do better :)
    Have a nice day :)

  22. I’ve never really thought that you should limit ice cream consumption to the summer months not least because I think ice cream goes so well with all those comforting puds at this time of year! This sounds like a pretty stellar stand alone ice cream, such a lovely combination of flavours.

  23. Lucy -

    This looks delicious – a refreshing (in more ways than one!) change to banana bread. Have bookmarked the recipe for warmer days!

  24. Yep, you’re making me want my own ice-cream churner! {again} ;)

    • Paula – thank you, hope you like it as much as we did!

      Valerie – have you ever made cucumber jam? There’s a recipe on my blog – it’s unusual but delicious!

      Sara – I do think the world is slowly getting to grips with the issue of food waste, but there is so much more we could be doing.

      Kathryn – that’s so true. I’d take ice cream with sticky toffee pudding or crumble over custard any day!

      Lucy – make it now, it’s totally acceptable to eat in winter too! :-)

      Alison – buy one, you won’t regret it!

  25. Pingback: Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream: January Roundup » Kavey Eats

  26. I never thought of using up ripe bananas in ice cream! Why not? I love the idea… I guess I just needed you to come along with the magic suggestion of combining creamy, banana flavored custard with cocoa nibs and walnuts…

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