Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream

     Gourmet Ice Cream!
     Plantain and Cavendish Bananas are sold in nearly every grocery store in America.  Occasionally common grocery stores stock Hog Bananas or varieties of Finger Bananas, but this is about as exotic as the selection gets.  Gourmands do have to "shop outside the box" when seeking exotic banana varieties.  Once again, the word "exotic" has a relative meaning that depends on geographic location.  Bananas that are exotic or hard to find in America are often a commonplace food staple somewhere else around the globe.  When seeking a species of banana that native to a region like Southeast Asia, the most likely place to find such a banana would be at a good Asian food market or an International food specialty market.  
     Thai Bananas are almost never stocked in the produce section at common grocery stores, yet they are one of the most highly prized gourmet bananas that there is.  A bunch of Thai Bananas definitely has an exotic look, because these bananas cluster together in perfect rows.  
     Part of the reason why Thai Bananas are not stocked in common grocery stores is because many Americans are not familiar with the nature of this banana species.  American grocery shoppers tend to think that brightly colored unblemished fruit is always the best choice.  Unblemished yellow Thai Bananas really are not ripe at all.  Thai Bananas have to ripen almost as much as a plantain.  
     A perfect yellow Thai Banana is still in the starchy stage of the ripening process and the carbohydrates have not converted to fructose sugars.  Thai Bananas start to become sugary sweet and tangy when the skin becomes mottled with plenty of brown color.  The skin on Thai Bananas is very thin, when compared to a Cavendish Banana, yet the fruit is not easily bruised until the Thai Banana becomes ripe.  
     The reason that Thai Bananas are so highly prized is flavor!  Thai Bananas have a strong classic tangy sweet banana flavor.  
     Thai Bananas are usually fried and served as dessert in Thai and Filipino restaurants.  They are also used to flavor many baked or pudding style desserts.  As far as the flavor goes, Thai Bananas could be used to make the world's greatest tasting Banana Cream Pie!  Thai Bananas can also be used to make the richest tasting banana ice cream that has ever been experienced.
     The Thai Bananas in the photos above were purchased at an Asian food market in Chinatown, Las Vegas.  These bananas were grown in Mexico.  Since they were imported from Mexico, in all likelihood, Thai Bananas just might also be found in Latin food markets in America.  From what I saw while researching the availability topic on the internet, a few food writers mistakenly stated that Thai Bananas are never sold in America.  I guess that my purchase proved that those food writers were absolutely wrong.  As consumer interest grows, so will the availability of this great tasting banana. 
    Crème Anglaise is the base sauce for making French ice cream.  A Crème Anglaise that is thinned with just a little bit of milk will produce an ice cream that is not 100% butterfat and it will be a bit lighter on the palate.  Coconut compliments the flavor of banana.  In today's Crème Anglaise recipe, the proportion of milk and cream is reduced to make room for the addition of coconut milk.  
     The addition of Thai Bananas to the Crème Anglaise is kind of like adding a stabilizing agent, because of the starchy nature of the banana.  Therefore, to produce an ice cream that does not become solid as a rock after the ice cream is frozen for 24 hours, the ice cream has to be churned to a medium thick gelato finish temperature, which falls just short of a soft ice cream temperature.  Some ice cream machines, like the Breville model that I use, do have an automated finish temperature system.  For this kind of machine, just pre-set the dial to the medium gelato or firm gelato setting.  
     For those who have an ice cream machine that has no guidance system, just visually check the ice cream.  When the ice cream looks like it is a soft serve ice cream texture, then it is ready.  After the Thai Banana and Coconut Milk Ice Cream is placed in the freezer for 24 hours, it will become a classic firm hard ice cream texture.  

     Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert Machine:
     Breville Ice Cream Machines are about as good as an ice cream machine can be.  These machines are very heavy, because the compressor is huge.  Anything from slushies and sorbet to gelato and hard packed ice cream can be made with a Breville Ice Cream Machine.  These machines are housed in stainless steel and they are heavy duty enough for restaurant applications.   
      • All ice cream machines have their own maximum capacity.  The Breville Smart Scoop has a max capacity of 1 1/2 quarts.  
     • A common mistake that home cooks make is to use the max capacity as the guideline for how much liquid ice cream mixture cab be added to the machine drum.  Aeration causes the liquid volume to expand and increase in size as the ice cream mixture gels and freezes.  
     • For a Breville 600 machine, 3 1/2 cups of liquid ice cream mixture will increase in size and it will expand to nearly 1 1/2 quarts (about 6 cups).  It is important to not exceed the 3 1/2 cup limit or there will be an out of control big mess to clean up!  

     Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise:  
     Yield:  This recipe yields about 4 cups of flavored crème anglaise.   3 1/2 cups of crème anglaise is enough to make 1 batch of ice cream in a Breville 600 machine.   Any extra sauce can be used as a dessert sauce or poured over fresh fruit.    
     Crème Anglaise is used to create a classic French style ice cream texture.  Crème Anglaise is not difficult to make.  After the egg yolks are combined with the cream mixture, the temperature of crème anglaise should not exceed 140ºF or the sauce will break.  
     It is best to make the crème anglaise the day before making ice cream.  The crème anglaise must be chilled for 4 hours before it can be placed in an ice cream machine.  Crème anglaise can be kept in a refrigerator for 7 days.  
     Step 1:  Place 4 egg yolks (AA Grade Large Eggs) into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of cream.  
     Whisk the ingredients till blended.
     Set the mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of cream in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of milk.
     Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.
     Step 3:  Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch ginger powder.
     Add 4 to 5 drops of yellow food color.  (use organic if it is available)
     Step 4:  Add 5 average size ripe Thai Bananas that are coarsely chopped.  (About 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups.)
     Step 5:  Bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium/medium low heat.  
     Stir occasionally.  Do not allow the cream to overheat and foam!  
     Adjust the temperature to 145ºF to 155ºF.
     Gently simmer till the bananas become very tender.
     Step 6:  Use an emersion blender (or food processor) to puree the sauce.  (Try to do this quickly, so the sauce stays warm.) 
     Step 7:  Slowly add the warm cream mixture to the cold egg yolk/cream mixture in the mixing bowl while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Step 8:  Return the entire crème anglaise mixture to the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Constantly slowly stir the crème anglaise with a whisk, as it heats and thickens to a thin sauce consistency.  
     *Do not allow the creme anglaise to exceed 140ºF or the sauce will break!  The sauce should a thin consistency that evenly coats the back of a spoon.  
     Step 9:  Pour the finished Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise into a container.
     Chill the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise for at least 4 hours before using it to make ice cream.   
     Thai Banana Coconut Ice Cream: 
     This recipe is written for a 6 cup max capacity ice cream machine! 
     Step 1:  Set the ice cream machine dial to a medium firm gelato setting or a soft ice cream setting.
     Pre-cool the ice cream machine.  
     Step 2:  Place 3 1/2 cups of the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise in the churning drum.
     Place the drum in the ice cream machine.
     Assemble the machine pieces.
     Step 3:  Start the ice cream churning process.
     Churn till the crème anglaise is a soft ice cream texture. 
     Step 4:  Turn off the machine.
     Remove the drum.
     Pack the ice cream into a container and place it in the freezer.
     Freeze for 12 to 24 hours, till the ice cream becomes a firm texture.   

     This is the tastiest banana ice cream!  Thai Bananas really do make a big difference in flavor.  

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