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Recipe Test: chocolate banana ice-cream

Recipe Test: chocolate banana ice-cream

Ice cream is one of the best things about British summer, whether you’re enjoying it on the beach, or scoffing it indoors while British rain runs down the windows! Most traditional ice cream is pretty high in sugar and fat, but trend-of-the-moment ‘nice cream’ – such as this recipe from the Bowl of Delicious blog – offers a truly healthy alternative.

‘Nice cream’ has many different versions, but is essentially fruit-based, vegan, gluten-free ice cream, made with only one or two ingredients (bananas and cocoa powder, in this recipe). There’s no added sugar, and once the ingredients have been frozen you can make your chilled out pud directly from the freezer in less than 5 minutes. It sounds a little too good to be true (or delicious), so how does it compare to a cool cone of genuine gelato? For the sake of science, we felt obliged to try it out!

Pros
Low fat
No added sugar
No artificial or substitute sweeteners
Vegan
Dairy free
Gluten free
Nut free
Allergy-friendly
Cheap, readily-available ingredients
Minimal preparation
Easy to create, even for beginner cooks
A great recipe for kids to make
Ready in less than 5 minutes (plus freezing time)
Excellent taste and texture

Cons
Melts very quickly, so has to be eaten as soon as it’s made – although it’s also very more-ish, so we can’t see this being much of a problem!
Requires a food processor or blender
In a standard food processor you can only make about 2 large or 4 small portions at once, although it wouldn’t be hard to make a couple of batches in quick succession if necessary
(note that once food has been defrosted, you shouldn’t refreeze it, so this shouldn’t really go back in the freezer once it’s been blended)

What we did differently

With such a simple recipe, there’s not much to alter. We didn’t deviate from the instructions at all.

We used three fairly large, fully ripe bananas, and 2 rounded dessert spoonfuls of cocoa powder. This made a very chocolatey finished product, which was delicious – but for a lighter chocolate taste we’d suggest starting with 1 tablespoon of cocoa, whizzing it all up, then checking to see if it’s enough and adding a bit more as you want.

Top tips

Use bananas that are fully ripe, but before they go ‘over’. Ripe bananas produce the smoothest consistency when blended and, as the recipe has no added sugar, the riper fruit will give your ice cream the greatest natural sweetness.

Slice up bananas as soon as they’re ripe, freeze them on a tray, then transfer to a storage tub (with greaseproof paper between layers of slices) so that you’ve got a ready supply to whizz up whenever the craving hits.

We added sprinkles on top of each portion to make the ice cream look even more appealing. If you’re catering for vegans, make sure your sprinkles are vegan too – some brands contain beeswax and non-vegan additives. If you’re avoiding all sugar, you could sprinkle on natural cocoa nibs, dried fruit or chopped nuts instead.

As long as you keep bananas as the basis, you can experiment with different additions or substitutions. Why not try frozen raspberries, peanut butter, chunks of frozen mango, dried coconut or chopped nuts? The different water contents of different fruits is likely to alter the consistency of the finished product, so test with small amounts to make sure it still comes out as you want.

Conclusion

This recipe genuinely surpassed all our expectations. Having felt sceptical that such a simple recipe could produce anything like ice cream, it was a very pleasant surprise to find that it creates a genuinely delicious and satisfying alternative. If you didn’t know it was only made from bananas and cocoa, you’d assume there must be more ingredients to create such a convincing texture and flavour. As a bonus, you can tuck into as much as you like, guilt free! Gold stars all round.

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