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So, I’m getting ready to post this Banana Pudding Ice Cream when I check my Google Reader, and – what the huh? – Joy the Baker has posted a one-year rewind of her Banana Pudding Ice Cream. Her recipe channels that old-school flavor, with bananas, banana instant pudding, vanilla wafers and Cool Whip. This Lee Bros. recipe is a little more like a Bananas Foster ice cream with vanilla wafers added at the last minute. There’s definitely room for both.

The Lee Bros.’ Banana Pudding Ice Cream starts like a classic New Orleans Bananas Foster, with a warm skillet full of butter, brown sugar, bananas and dark rum, but rather than ignite the rum, you let it burn off slowly over the course of a minute or two. Then you cool and puree the banana mixture before combining it with custard and cream. The result is a smooth, creamy ice cream with a complex banana flavor, one that’s richer and mellower than the banana pudding you remember. In fact, you could argue that it’s actually Bananas Foster Ice Cream before you fold in the vanilla wafers. That’s not a bad thing.

To take this ice cream into sundae territory, top it with any combination of banana slices, candied pecans, dulce de leche or caramel sauce, homemade vanilla wafers, chopped peanuts or whipped cream.

Banana Pudding Ice Cream

Adapted from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”

Makes about 1 quart; enough for 6 people

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced in half crosswise and lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum, such as Mount Gay or Myers’s
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Eight 2-inch vanilla wafers, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces, plus 6 whole vanilla wafers for garnish
  1. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter until frothy. Add the brown sugar, and spread it with a wooden spoon. Sauté the sugar, until it turns into a flat, bubbling mass, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the bananas, and stir, turning them in the sugar for about 1 1/2 minutes, until they are well coated and softening.
  2. Pour the rum over the contents of the skillet (it will hiss and pop but soon subside). Let it bubble for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol (which would inhibit freezing). Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or blender.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk, then add the sugar and beat until the mixture is a milky lemon-yellow color, about 1 1/2 minutes. In a medium saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 150 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes (you may see steam rising from the pan, but the milk should not start to boil). Pour 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the banana mixture in the food processor and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Reserve and let cool.
  4. Add the remaining 1 cup hot milk (slowly and in a thin stream) into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly as you pour. Pour the custard back into the saucepan or, preferably, the top of a double boiler, and cook slowly over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the custard reaches 170 degrees F on a candy thermometer (8 to 10 minutes; it should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon), turn off the heat. Add the banana puree to the custard and gently whisk to incorporate it completely, about 1 1/2 minutes. Let the custard cool to room temperature, and whisk in the cream. Transfer to a pitcher or other container and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight until the custard is very cold but not frozen.
  5. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until the ice cream becomes stiff and holds its shape. This will take 15 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and scatter the cookie pieces over the top. Fold them into the ice cream until they’re evenly incorporated. Pat a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface, and cover the container.
  6. Freeze the ice cream until it has hardened, at least 2 hours. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving, and remove the plastic wrap.
  7. Serve small scoops of ice cream in bowls, and garnish with a whole vanilla wafer.