I have a confession. I’ve never had the pleasure of eating Blue Bell’s Banana Pudding ice cream. I’m not sure why. After all, I love banana pudding and I love ice cream.
As you probably know, Blue Bell doesn’t sell its ice cream north of the Mason-Dixon line (though you can find a few flavors at Hill Country here in New York), and when I go home I get caught up on eating my old favorites—Cookies ‘N Cream and Buttered Pecan, which leaves me little time to experiment. That or whenever I’m home it’s not around as it’s only in stores for three months out the year.
That said, I’ve been craving it as there’s something very appealing about a banana pudding ice cream.
Whenever I hear about the release of their seasonal flavors, I get a little sad that I won’t get to try them. And since their banana pudding ice cream is now available, I decided that even if I couldn’t buy it at the store, I could at least try to make a batch at home.
I usually make my ice cream with just cream and half and half, and don’t bother making a custard with eggs. (After all, it’s called ice cream not ice custard.) But I wanted this ice cream to be yellow and the best way I knew how to do that naturally was to make it with bright yellow egg yolks.
Sadly, the egg yolks didn’t make the ice cream yellow, but it did turn out a lovely shade of off white. But more importantly, I am now a convert for making a custard as the ice cream stayed creamy even after a spell the freezer, and was so rich that I didn’t have to eat a whole mess to feel satisfied.
I ended up straining my bananas as the first batch of ice cream I made turned an icky shade of gray, which I suspected was from banana pulp (that and I had to leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days before freezing because I was too busy to sit and wait for my dang ice cream machine to do its magic.) But just to be safe, I also added some lemon juice, which not only kept the ice cream a pretty color (if not bright yellow) but also brightened up the flavor.
I’m kind of nuts about ingredients these days, so I toyed with using a certain grocery store’s organic vanilla wafers, but as soon as I opened the box and took a bite, I knew that there was no substitution for the proper cookie for a banana pudding—Nabisco’s Nilla Wafers. The organic one was just too thick and crisp and I had a feeling it would never soften and blend into the banana pudding ice cream, as a Nilla Wafer is wont to do.
So how is it? Well, I love it, but not having Blue Bell’s version of banana pudding ice cream, I shared some of mine with a friend who has eaten the stuff from Brenham. He took a bite, smiled and declared it very, very good.
And that’s just the answer I needed to hear.
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups half and half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks (save the whites for something else as we won’t be making a meringue)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt salt
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 cups vanilla wafer cookies roughly crushed (make sure they’re not crumbs but nice chunks)
In a saucepot, cook the cream, half and half, and sugar on medium heat until warm, do not let it come to a boil.
While the base is heating, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla. Once the base is warmed, pour 1/4 cup of the base into the beaten eggs, stir until well combined, and then pour the egg mixture into the pot. Add the sliced bananas to the pot, as well.
Heat this on medium low for 5 minutes or until it gets slightly thick. Do not let it come to a boil. You’ll know it’s ready when it coats the back of your spoon.
Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and lemon juice, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let it rest for 45 minutes.
Strain the custard, reserving the banana slices either for serving along with the frozen ice cream or for another use. Chill the custard overnight or for at least 4 hours, and then freeze according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions. When the ice cream is finished being churned, stir in the crushed vanilla wafer cookies.
Serve cold with reserved banana slices, if you like.