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Monday, January 24, 2011

ice cream.. mmm: plantain

i've actually never heard of plantain ice cream anywhere but i wanted to make it. i don't especially like bananas but i love plantains. and i've heard good things about freezing bananas to make banana ice cream. well, they're family so i gave it a try. i started with ripe plantains from the store, not green. the green ones would not be nearly as sweet.
when i say ripe plantains, for this it doesn't matter if they have bruises all over. actually i've never found a plantain that bruised all the way through their very thick skins. get a dark yellow one, not a green one for dessert stuff. the riper they are, the more starch has converted to sugar. after you freeze it, it will be even sweeter. you could easily use bananas for this the exact same way.

from this:

to this:

i sort of used this recipe:


except only as a guideline. being diabetic, and not liking things too sweet, i never actually add sugar to the custard mix. and i was making 5 flavors [mexican chocolate almond, plantain, green tea, dulce de lece, vanilla] so i doubled the batch.
it was more like

  • 3cups whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • put in tall pot and blend with stick blender
  • stick thermometer in
  • blend every ten degrees with stick blender.
  • at 170, start letting it cool.

since i have a glass top stove that stays hot for a while, i've discovered it works best for me to turn the stove off when the pot reaches 160.
i'm not as worried about skins forming on top since i'm pouring it off to make flavors pretty fast and then i have a 'sweet spot' in my freezer that can harden ice cream in a couple of hours. sure, sometimes i go in and stir it often but last night i was going to bed right after mixing so i didn't bother. the texture of the ice cream tends to be a little less smooth this way but it doesn't bother me.

here's how i did the different flavors:

  1. peel and chop one frozen plantain into pieces that fit in a mason jar. leave room for the blender blades note: it's MUCH easier to peel a frozen plantain with a paring knife than a fresh one.
  2. add 'some' custard before it starts to thicken. not too much, this is just to make the mixing easier.
  3. apply blender base, blend to mush.
  4. fill the rest of the way with liquid custard, a little vanilla [adding the vanilla to the hot custard always wastes some of the aromatics]
  5. blend some more until it's a thick creamy goo.
  6. remove blender base, add lid. do not seal the lid down tight, the ice cream needs to expand. leave it a few turns loose.
if you only have one mason jar and need it for more mixing, feel free to move the ice cream to another container to freeze.

dulce de lece: i actually do this one first every time because i need it hot.

  1. take your container that you will be freezing in [i use trader joe's leftover greek yogurt containers, exactly one pint] and stick in a heaping spoonful of dulce de lece straight out of the jar. leave it on the spoon. use a sturdy spoon.
  2. pour in hot custard mix and stir.
  3. the dulce de lece will start to swirl into the custard a little. but not entirely.
  4. leave the spoon in the container and stick it in the freezer on a level surface where it won't be disturbed. as the ice cream hardens you'll need the spoon to swirl more of the dulce de lece into the ice cream
i totally didn't do this last night and now i have a big lump of rock hard dulce de lece in my ice cream. i don't actually care though, it's still good.

green tea:
total experiment here. sick of paying $5.49 a quart for green tea ice cream, i wanted to try to make it at home.
poked around the asian market one day and found


mixed about half a cup of it in with a pint of the warmish liquid custard. next time i might try the stick blender because it didn't mix perfectly. tastes just like the one i buy premade.

mexican chocolate almond:

  1. mason jar again [or in this case a jar from instant coffee, it happens to fit also. check first]
  2. 1 cup of almonds [or to taste]
  3. use your blender to chop the almonds up to your preferred size
  4. half a brick of abuelita mexican drinking chocolate http://www.amazon.com/Nestle-Abuelita-Mexican-Chocolate-19-oz/dp/B0000GH6UQ
  5. melted in the microwave for 30 seconds [or however long yours takes]
  6. add warm custard, blend again to mix.

sometimes i also add more straight up cocoa powder but you have to mix it really well and i was feeling lazy. mexican drinking chocolate is a little grainy, it's got sugar crystals and little pieces of cacao bean in it and stuff. if this bothers you, use some other sort of cooking chocolate. i like the texture

add vanilla flavoring/extract/whatever to the container with the cooled custard. stir and freeze

in the past i have also made coffee ice cream by adding instant coffee directly to the custard and stirring it in. mixes great!

REMEMBER - do not put lids on while freezing, or if you do, don't tighten them! you can tighen them AFTER they expand while freezing. if you have GOT to have it covered, use something like waxed paper or plastic wrap

the other good thing about making your own ice cream is built in portion control. got kids? on a diet? pour the ice cream custard into the container size you want, whether it be yogurt containers, mini mason jars, gladware... just don't freeze it with the lid on tight.
heck, if you REALLY want portion control you can do it in ice cube trays.

oh, and this is really easy if you have someplace to sit near your stove and bring a book. it takes about half an hour to gently heat up the custard mix.
tip i learned from experience: if you use a stick blender, measure your milk and cream in a measuring cup big enough to stand the stick blender up in between stirrings. then you catch all the drips and can pour them right back in the pot. limited mess.
you can use a whisk too i guess but then you want to make sure to beat the eggs well first before adding them to the milk and cream.

by the way, here's a cost analysis of the basic recipe, considering finished "pints" of ice cream to be approximate due to expansion:

i buy my main ingredients at either sams or bjs
18 eggs: $1.82
1 gallon milk: $2.95
1 quart heavy cream: $3.19

this makes the total cost $7.96 but i have a lot of ingredients left over.
the cost of the ingredients i actually used was:
4 eggs: 40 cents
3 cups milk: 55 cents
3 cups cream: $2.40

total $3.35 for 5 pints of ice cream
with 13 cups of milk. 14 eggs and a cup of cream leftover for other uses

not including flavorings, carbon footprint, etc

if you were to buy these ingredients at the lowes foods grocery store closest to my house:
12 eggs: $2.69
1 gallon milk: $3.65
2 pints heavy cream: $5.98 [they don't sell a quart so you'd have to buy two. or buy one and use another cup of milk and have it be a little less rich]

total overhead : $12.32

and as ingredients actually used, retail:

4 eggs: 88 cents
3 cups milk: 69 cents
3 cups cream: $4.47

total: $6.04 for 5 pints of ice cream
with 8 eggs, 13 cups milk, 1 cup heavy cream left over.

at retail prices, this actually makes it a little more expensive than edy's or breyer's but i think it tastes a lot better.

added the cost analysis because i know people are going to wonder. and i hate those recipes that say 'for just $3 you can make this' but the overhead of the ingredients is actually like $15 and you have a bunch of leftover stuff that you don't know what to do with. frankly, if you can't figure out other things to do with milk and eggs, you need a better cookbook


  1. Will this work with "healthier" ingredients, like skim milk, Half & Half, and egg whites- or will the custard not form?

  2. i don't know about the skim milk, but i'm pretty sure you need the egg yolks. i have a recipe for custard with just yolks, no whites, so i'm pretty sure they are a major part of the thickening process.
    you can leave the eggs out entirely and you'd basically have 'ice milk' which i remember from the 80's as being highly unsatisfying.
    however, frozen plantains and frozen bananas by themselves, when mashed, make a really good ice cream textured dessert