Banana Caramel Ice Cream

Probably the trickiest part of this recipe is making the caramel. The most important thing is to stay vigilant as you're cooking the caramel. The process starts slowly as you wait for the sugar to melt, but it soon quickly goes from dark amber to burnt. So if you're a helicopter parent, this is the perfect time to put your skills to good use.

Banana Caramel Ice Cream
Adapted from Maximum Flavor: Recipes That Will Change The Way You Cook by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot 
Makes approx. 1 qt

Prep and place in a bowl next to the stove:
4 medium bananas, sliced (380g peeled)

In a light-colored 4-qt saucepan (heavy, stainless steel is good), add:
1 cup sugar (200g)

Over medium heat, caramelize sugar. It will take a few minutes for the sugar to heat up enough to melt. The first areas to melt will be around the perimeter of the pan and of course the bottom. You can use a heatproof spatula and push the sugar at it heats up. It's OK to stir, because this is the dry method (vs. wet where you add some water), but sometimes I don't bother. I just jerk the pan every now and then to redistribute the unmelted sugar. If you're feeling nervous, just use a lower temperature to slow down the caramelization process. 

Dark amber caramel

Gradually you'll see some of the the sugar melt, then become lightly colored, then slowly acquire darker shades of gold - all of these stages might appear at the same time - that's ok. When all of the sugar has liquified, start watching the color carefully. You want a dark amber color. At the first sign of foam and steam rising from the caramel, turn off the stove and take the pan off the burner. 

Quickly add the sliced bananas that you have next to the stove. Be careful as the addition will cause the caramel to bubble and sputter. Wear oven mitts if you're nervous.

Return the pan to the stove and over low heat, cook while stirring with a heat-proof spatula, until bananas are broken down, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

While the bananas cool, measure out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper:
2 Tbs + 1 tsp tapioca starch/flour (14g)
1/2 tsp sea salt (4g)
Set aside.

Combine in a medium saucepan (that easily pours):
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
Set aside near stove.

Pureed bananas

Return to the cooled bananas and transfer to a blender. Puree until smooth.

With the blender on, use the wax or parchment paper to funnel the tapioca flour and salt into the blender and whirl for a few seconds to distribute evenly and mix thoroughly.

Now heat the heavy cream and milk until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat as soon as you see steam rising from the mixture.

Carefully pour hot cream into blender with the pureed bananas. Place blender lid on. To prevent the lid from blowing off when pureeing hot liquids, take out the lid's center see-thru cap to allow steam to vent and instead place a thick kitchen towel over the opening.

Blend at lowest speed first and then increase setting to get a smooth base. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-proof container. Cover ice cream with a sheet of parchment paper before putting the lid on. Harden in freezer for 4 hours before serving.

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