Incredibly Easy Home Made Ice Cream

Ice cream in Beijing is either expensive, or really bad. Or both. I miss it. Despite my lactose intolerance, I’m a big fan of dairy products. Cheese, ice cream, butter. Whatever. It’s delicious. And those Lactaid supplements make my world function (I really don’t want to debate whether a divine slice of brie is worth nausea). But in high school sometimes I’d skip lunch, head to the convenient store, and buy a pint of Haagendas Pineapple Coconut ice cream and eat it in one sitting. Because I could. Point of the story is that here in Beijing I’m fairly deprived of ice cream, except for the occasional Magnum popsicle, which really doesn’t count because it’s some sort of manufactured frothy fake ice cream filler that I’m sure doesn’t have an ounce of actual milk in it. Possibly some melamine, though. Black Sesame Kitchen does an amazing homemade black-sesame bourbon-vanilla ice cream for their caramelized banana dessert, but each dinner there costs about US$50 and requires at least 4 people and a two week reservation, so I can’t exactly head over there when I crave dessert. And I also dont have the money or space for an ice cream maker (I have way more important things to buy). It seemed liked I would be doomed to having to fork up ten bucks for a tiny container of Haagendas or go without.

Then, in my perusals of thekitchn.com, I discovered the amazing fact that you can approximate ice cream with frozen bananas. And nothing else. Seriously. Slice a banana up into coins, freeze them for at least a couple hours, then throw the slices into a blender. Blend. After about 30 seconds, my little blender produced a smooth, creamy mixture that had the same exact mouthfeel as frozen yogurt. Put this in the freezer for an hour or so and you have ice cream. Rich, creamy, satisfying. And, it’s incredibly easy to add flavors.

I had several bananas on the verge of browning, so I cut them up and popped them in the freezer. The next day, I made three different types.

First, I made banana date ice cream. I had seen a recipe for banana date smoothies, and had some dried dates to use up. Pitted them and soaked them in hot water for a few minutes to soften, then cut into pieces and added to the frozen banana along with a few tablespoons of coconut milk, some cinnamon and a spoonful of honey.

Next I made chocolate ice cream. Two tablespoons of cocoa powder along with a generous spoonful of Nutella. I added a bit more coconut milk, perhaps a bit too much, as this ended up being the thinnest of the three.

Lastly I made Cinnamon Dulce ice cream. Cinnamon, coconut milk, and a spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.

Cinnamon Dulce and Chocolate Ice Cream in the jars, Banana Date in the tupperware.

This takes no more than a minute of activity on your part: five second to peel and slice the banana. Wait for it to freeze. Ten-twenty seconds to add bananas and whatever other ingredients you feel like. Thirty-forty seconds blending. Scoop it out and wait for it to freeze again, or eat it right then and there. Effortless, dairy free, and affordable ice cream. Makes 1-2 servings per 1 1/2 bananas, depending on how much of a glutton you are. Recipe easily expanded to make a large batch, depending on your blender’s capability.

Now excuse me while I skip lunch and eat ALL of the ice cream in my freezer right now.

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