I like bananas when they’ve just yellow but tinged with the faintest color of green on the ridges that run their length. No spots, firm, and crisp sounding when I pop the top and pull that first piece of peeling away from the fruit. If bananas could stay like this for days, I’d enjoy one every day all by itself.
But they don’t.
I don’t like the cloying sweetness that begins to take over once the ripening process gets going, and the softer texture leaves much to be desired. I wish I was better at pulling out the blender because I wouldn’t have trouble making a smoothie and putting a too ripe banana out of its misery with some yogurt and orange juice, but I’m not.
Recently, we’ve had quite the ripe banana back up so I spent more time than I normally would looking for something different to make with them — something other than banana bread or muffins. I love frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, but they’re not something to be made with brown bananas. Pastry Chef Sherry Yard has some delicious ideas involving frying and dipping, so that’s on my list, but I wasn’t in the mood to get too involved.
If not frozen banana pops, then why not banana ice cream — or frozen yogurt since I had Greek yogurt and kefir cheese in the fridge. Then I could make banana frozen yogurt pops.
Banana Caramel Nut Frozen Yogurt
1 c. Greek yogurt (or any yogurt)
1 c. Greek Labne (can sub yogurt)
3 very ripe bananas — frozen if possible
1/2 c. mango nectar
2 T raw sugar (optional)
1 c. pecans, chopped
3 T caramel sauce
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate morsels for dipping (optional)
You can make this by hand using a potato masher, an immersion blender, or a regular blender. Mix the first 4 ingredients until smooth. If you’re using frozen bananas, then you’ll have a few chunks, and that’s a good thing. Taste for sweetness and add the sugar according to your own tastes. Scrape into an electric ice cream maker and process until it’s the consistency of soft serve frozen yogurt.
Scrape out into a container that can go in the freezer. Sprinkle in the pecans and dollop the caramel sauce over. Using a kitchen knife, swirl through the mixture making sure to incorporate all ingredients.
For soft serve froyo: Spoon immediately into a cup and enjoy!
For froyo pops: Spoon soft yogurt mixture into paper cups. Cover with plastic wrap and push a sturdy stick or straw into the center. Freeze until firm, then remove the plastic and paper wrapper, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 10-15 second increments, stirring after each until smooth and glossy. Dip the pops into the chocolate working very quickly and then when the chocolate is hardened, you can place them back in the freezer until serving time.
For froyo scoops: Let the yogurt mixture sit in the freezer for at least 1 hour. You should be able to easily pull an ice cream scoop through the mixture to create perfect scoops. Drizzle with chocolate syrup if desired.
- I looked at so many recipes for banana ice cream and frozen yogurt but many contained ingredients I wasn’t thrilled with. I adapted this recipe from one I found at Bay Area Bites — a great article that talks about the general expense of purchased froyo and offers several great recipes in addition to the banana.
- Jamie Oliver’s got a good version of yogurt pops at Food Revolution. Check it out!
- So what if you don’t have an electric ice cream maker? Based on the cost of frozen yogurt, it wouldn’t take long to pay yourself back in savings if you purchased one. My Cuisinart cost $50. That’s about 3-1/2 trips to the froyo store for the two of us. Yes, but what if you still don’t have an electric ice cream maker? Spread the soft mixture into a wide-bottomed container, put it in the freezer, and every 30 minutes or so, give it a stir. Seems tedious, but use a timer, and you’ll be fine. If you don’t do this, you’ll have a solid block of ice.
- The caramel sauce I used was purchased at a local market that specializes in foods from South America. Its flavor is similar to dulce de leche, but is more intense. You can use any caramel that you have, or leave it out all together, but the flavor is perfect with the banana.
- Nuts, no nuts, chocolate chips, coconut — go crazy!
- You can use any kind of juice for this recipe. I had the mango nectar, so used it.
- Why frozen bananas? The chunks are great, and the coldness helps the process of freezing the yogurt quickly.
- Flavorwise, this was GREAT. I waited to add the sugar until after it was nearly done processing. I like the tartness of good Greek yogurt, but thought a small amount of sugar would be nice.
- So what is Kefir Cheese, you ask? It’s like cream cheese — just more tart. It’s, thick, it’s creamy, it’s completely fabulous on toast instead of butter and topped with a bit of fruit puree. Delicious product! But if using it in this doesn’t float your boat, then use 2 c. yogurt.
- On the banana pops. Yes, I have those cute straws. They’re made of paper, I knew it would be a problem, but my husband and I had fun dangling them over our mouths anyway. Perhaps regular popsicle sticks would be better, yes?
- The chocolate is a fabulous flavor to this combo of course, so whether it’s frozen on, or poured over, go for it.