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.
Banana pudding ice cream
1 cup of cream
2 cups of half and half
3 egg yolks (save the whites for something else as we won’t be making a meringue)
3/4 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 bananas cut into slices
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups of Nilla Wafers roughly crushed (make sure they're not crumbs but nice chunks).
Cook the cream and half and half on medium heat until warm, do not let it come to a boil.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla. Add to this 1/2 a cup of the warm and cream and half and half, and then stir the egg mixture and banana slices back into the remaining cream and half and half in the pot.
Heat this on medium low for five 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 nutmeg and lemon juice, turn off the heat, and just let the whole thing rest for about 45 minutes.
Remove the banana slices, chill overnight or for at least four hours and then freeze according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions. About five minutes before the ice cream is finished being whipped around, add the Nilla Wafers.
Can serve with reserved banana slices. Makes one quart.