I like experimenting with bold and interesting flavor combinations in all kinds of food, and doing so with ice cream sounded great to me. I received a review copy of Spice Dreams which is the second book from Sara Engram and Katie Luber about making good use of your spice rack. This book is devoted to ice creams, sorbets, and frozen yogurts made with sometimes adventurous flavor combinations. There are options like honey-mint ice cream with thyme and basil, chile-lemongrass ice cream, white chocolate-allspice ice cream, and chocolate ice cream with cumin and fennel. In the sorbet chapter, pink grapefruit-tarragon sorbet and chile-orange-chocolate sorbet both grabbed my attention. There are also suggestions for frozen sandwiches and sundaes like cardamom snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches and peach waffle sundaes with cinnamon syrup. Last, there’s a chapter for sauces, syrups, and toppings to further gild the lily. Whipped cream with dried lemon zest is one I'll have to try. I flipped through the ice cream pages calling out options, and Kurt’s pick was brown sugar and spiced banana. I thought it was a great choice, and I readied the ice cream maker.
All of the ice cream and sorbet recipes in this book are written to make one to one and a half quarts. This one made one and a half. For that amount, only one banana was needed, and I thought there would have been at least two for some reason. The one banana was pureed with some milk, and then that mixture was added to more milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt in a saucepan. That was scalded and then used to temper four egg yolks. Eggs and the milk mixture went back into the saucepan and were heated until the custard was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. I always strain custards just in case there’s any unappetizing cooked egg in there, and then it was chilled in an ice water bath. Once cool, it was refrigerated for a few hours before being churned into rich and nicely flavored ice cream.
My first instinct was to caramelize some sugar on top of banana slices and serve the ice cream on top. Or, I thought a drizzle of caramel sauce might be nice over a big scoop. Wrong and wrong. This ice cream brings plenty to the palate just as it is. The one banana in the custard gave it lovely fruity flavor, and the warm flavors of the spices would have been muddied by caramel. I did slice a fresh banana and sat pieces in the cups as garnish, but anything more heavy-handed than that would have been out of place here. This is one to enjoy just as is or maybe in a cone, and now I wish I had some cones and more of this ice cream.