Banana Stracciatella Gelato

Banana

So, we’re only 25 days into the New Year and my “be fun and try something different” initiative for 2015 is already giving me fits.

In the spirit of being bold and taking risks, I decided to try my hand at gelato this week, which much like frozen yogurt, is something that I previously knew little about.

Sadly, it was sort of a disaster from the start (not a real disaster obviously; but more of the first world, “this gelato strategy for my ice cream blog isn’t quite working out” variety).

First, after a little research, I realized that you can’t really make proper gelato at home; you need a gelato machine. Apparently commercialized gelato machines incorporate less air while churning than a traditional at-home ice cream maker, which is how gelato gets that special dense mouth feel that we all love. Needless to say, this news poked a hole in my optimism, but didn’t completely burst my bubble. So, I forged ahead.

Scoop o' Banana

Because this gelato business is foreign territory, and I wasn’t sure where to start, I consulted my most trusted culinary advisor and friend, David Lebovitz.

(Note: he’s not actually my friend…in real life. Although I wish he were, as he’s sort of my food idol. Like, do you ever daydream that you’re a famous celebrity getting interviewed by The New York Times and they ask you, “if you could trade places with anyone for one day, who would it be?” He’d totally be my answer to that question. Additional note: I’m not actually a stalker. I just sometimes play one on my blog).

In his book, The Perfect Scoop, Mr. Lebovitz has a recipe for milk chocolate hazelnut gelato that I’ve been jonesing to make for quite some time now. I decided that this would be the perfect ocassion to give it the ol’ college try.

Little did I know, that two hours later I’d be on a wild goose chase for hazelnuts. Apparently, when you live in The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio, it can be difficult to find a nut that isn’t of the Almond or Peanut variety. I ended up going to a specialty store, which had them in bulk for…get ready for it..ready for it…$20 bucks a pound.  Is this normal? Am I the only person who didn’t know this about hazelnuts? I was flabbergasted, especially since Nutella’s only like $3.99 or so at Target (Is Nutella a suitable substitute for hazelnuts? Is there some way to extract the nut back out? Just curious).

While Single Lindsay would have loved to spend an exorbitant amount of money on some filberts, Married and Saving for a House Lindsay didn’t feel it would be prudent to move forward with the hazelnut gelato plan when surrounded by so many other, delicious, cheaper options.

Aerial View - Yum!

Plan B? We had some bananas rotting on the counter and I suddenly remembered how much I love banana gelato. We don’t have access to much gelato in these parts of Ohio, but when traveling, my go-to strategy is always one scoop of banana and one scoop of dark chocolate, mixed together. But because this is the blog, and I need people to think I’m fancy, I decided to make banana stracciatella…which in my simpleton mind, is really just banana chocolate chip 🙂

I set to work, and the house filled with the most wonderful aroma of sweet, banana-y, perfection. Feeling confident, I walked away for two minutes, and upon my return, realized that the color of the mixture had turned slightly grayish and unappetizing. Another setback.

I was disappointed, because in my head I was imagining that my gelato should have a pastel yellow tint, no doubt the result of years of consuming commercialized banana desserts. I told myself, “NO, Lindsay. You’re smarter than this. You know what this is? This is Big Food wanting you to think that banana gelato should be yellow. And it’s NOT YELLOW its sort of dull and grayish and that’s what color Mother Nature wants your gelato to be!”

IMG_2567

So once again, I pressed onward, but later my spirits fell when I attempted the stracciatella effect and it wasn’t quite as lovely as I thought it should be. At this point, my bubble had almost completely burst, but then I tasted my creation and oh.my.gosh. was it tasty! What it lacked in the looks department, it certainly did make up for in personality: it wasn’t too sweet, but wasn’t too banana-y either (I didn’t feel like I was eating a frozen smoothie). Just the confidence booster I needed!

I was feeling a lot better about my adventure, until I realized that I had proceeded to eat so much of the gelato that I barely had enough left for the photos. Needless to say, I had to get creative (Enter 3 week old frozen waffles from the back of my freezer).

Things went from bad to worse when I started my photoshoot. The natural darkness of Ohio in January isn’t exactly ideal lighting for food photography, and my camera started having a hissy fit (or more accurately, I was having a hissy fit).

IMG_2629

Long story short (or maybe not-so-short), I’m posting these pics, knowing they aren’t my best, but I’m going to love them anyways. Because when you’re trying new things, it’s not always perfect – and I wanted this blog to be about failures and successes, not just the latter…because that’s neither genuine nor relatable. Or as my favorite coworker often says, “that’s not real life.”

I love you, banana gelato. Even if you’re not perfect.

My friends, be bold and make gelato. Er, faux gelato. Well whatever this is, it’s delicious 🙂

Happy scooping!

Banana Stracciatella Gelato

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Yield: Scant 1 Quart

You will need:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 ripe bananas, sliced into 1 inch medallions
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the stracciatella:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, bananas, brown sugar, and salt until the mixture begins to bubble. Cover, turn off heat, and let sit for about 10 minutes.

2.  While the banana mixture is doing its thing, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium sized bowl, whisking vigorously until frothy and thick. Set aside.

3. Place milk and banana mixture in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, then return to heat. Once mixture is heated through and begins to steam, start adding small amounts to your eggs, whisking as you go to ensure the eggs don’t scramble. Once all of the milk has been incorporated to the eggs, add everything back into the pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.

4. Run gelato base through a strainer and into a bowl or storage container. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and stir to combine, then refrigerate for a few hours (or ideally, overnight).

5. Freeze mixture according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the meantime, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave in 15 second increments until melted. Place in a plastic baggie, and cut a very small hole in the corner. For the stracciatella effect, drizzle the melted chocolate onto the churning ice cream during the last two minutes of churning (be careful not to hit the blade spinner thingy – you want it on the actual gelato).

6. Enjoy immediately for a divine soft gelato, or let freeze for a few hours for a firmer texture. Enjoy! 🙂

Salted Honey Frozen Yogurt with Candied Walnuts

Salted Honey Frozen Yogurt

Happy 2015, everyone!

I hope you all had a safe and wonderful holiday and that your new year is off to a great start so far!

IMG_2488

As much as I’ve been looking forward to this post, the very first of 2015, I’ve also been avoiding it just a teeny tiny little bit.

Yes, there’s the whole “I’m a procrastinator” thing, and no amount of good-intended resolutions are going to change that 🙂 But my other excuse is this:

After all the excitement of the holidays, I always struggle to get my groove back in January. I can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of, “Well, now what?”

IMG_2497

Don’t get me wrong; it’s exciting to have a clean slate, but it’s also a lot of pressure. The New Year always brings with it the highest of expectations to set on a personal journey of reinventing oneself, making me feel like I need to make public proclamations about how I’m going to be better/healthier/nicer/thinner/bolder/<insert self-improvement aspirations here>. It can be quite overwhelming.

Salted Honey Fro Yo

After much thought, I’ve decided that rather than go on and on about making resolutions that I probably won’t keep anyhow, I’m just going to keep it simple and choose an overarching “resolution theme” for my 2015.

Cop-out? Maybe. But in an effort to increase my chances of successful self-improvement, I thought I’d try something new.

This year’s theme is going to be all about risk; about taking chances and stepping outside of my comfort zone. Easier said than done, I know, but I figured at the very least I can start here, in the comfort of my blog-home.

And, to start my blogging year off with a bang, I’m going to make something that I’ve never made before here on ITSF.

A frozen yogurt.

Yep, I said it! Frozen yogurt.

Salted Honey Fro Yo

In the past, I’ve shied away from making frozen yogurt for several reasons. One, my experience with frozen yogurt has been limited to chain fro yo shops, where the product comes out of a giant machine with a pull-down lever and it just sort of sits there, staring up at you like a sad little blob of wannabe-food that needs a variety of toppings just to make it remotely interesting. It’s all very uninspiring, and just not the type of frozen dessert experience we need here on ITSF.

And then, there’s…you know. That “H” word.

Healthy.

I know I say that like it’s a bad thing, but health in general seems like it might conflict with the chubby-chasing activities that I conduct here on my ice cream blog, so I’ve avoided it at all costs. Until today, that is.

Salted Honey Fro Yo with Chobani

Now, I see that my ignorance and misconceptions have been holding me back. Because you know what I realized this week? Healthy doesn’t have to be boring, and neither does frozen yogurt. In fact, it can be downright decadent. Just look:

Salted Honey Awesomeness

This fro yo is creamy, tangy, sweet and salty, and shockingly much more ice cream-like than I ever would have thought possible. The secret ingredient? Greek yogurt.

(I know! Trust me, I was skeptical at first too. But would I ever steer you wrong?)

IMG_2487

Not only is this stuff delicious, but it’s incredibly easy to make. And unlike ice cream, you don’t have to start planning a day (or two!) in advance. There’s no eggs, no cooking, and virtually zero prep time. It’s like ice cream’s lower maintenance little sister.

(But don’t tell ice cream I said that).

Salted Honey Fro Yo with Chobani

When making frozen yogurt, the general rule of thumb to follow is 4 parts yogurt to 1 part sugar. To make this recipe healthier, (and tastier), I swapped out some of the sugar for honey, which resulted in a super rich base. Because I used nonfat yogurt, I added some cream to help ensure a more pleasing texture, but you could also add milk instead. The addition of candied walnuts really takes it over the top and adds a nice crunch, but if that’s not your thing, you can merely roast the walnuts in the oven for a few minutes (but be warned that they won’t be nearly as crunchy as their candied counterpart).

IMG_2537

This fro yo is ready to eat straight out of the ice cream machine (unless you want a harder texture, then freeze for a few hours. But remember to leave time to let this stuff soften slightly; fro yo tends to freeze much harder than our good friend ice cream). Drizzle some extra honey and sea salt on top, or accompany with seasonal fruit.  You really can’t go wrong!

Honey, baby

I’m not quite sure where 2015 will take me, but I do know one thing: I won’t be buying fro yo at a chain shop anymore when it’s this easy and delicious to make at home.

I must say, this is one risk that’s definitely paying off!

I hope you enjoy this fabulous fro yo recipe, and may all your spoons be full in 2015 🙂

Happy scooping!

Salted Honey Frozen Yogurt with Candied Walnuts

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Yield: About 1 Quart

You will need:

For the candied walnuts:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Large pinch of sea salt

Directions:

1. In a medium sized bowl, combine yogurt, heavy cream, honey, sugar, vanilla, and salt and whisk vigorously until combined. Cover mixture and set in the refridgerator to chill until you are ready to churn.

2.  Make the walnuts: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and let it get hot. Toss in the walnuts; cook for about 4 minutes, or until the nuts become fragrant. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the nuts, and cook for an additional minute or two or until the sugar is melty and dark brown and the walnuts appear caramelized.

3. Remove nuts from the stovetop and spread onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper. Once the nuts are cooled completely, break them apart and give ’em a rough chop.

4. Make the fro yo: add chilled yogurt mixture to the base of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add nuts during the last minute of churning so that they are evenly distributed, or, alternate layering fro yo and nuts in your storage container for a cool swirled look once you start scooping (I prefer the latter, because it increases the amount of walnuts in each bite).

5. Enjoy immediately for a divine soft-serve texture, or let freeze for a few hours for a firmer, more ice cream-like texture (just be sure to let it thaw for a few minutes). Enjoy! 🙂