July is an upside-down month – as in, steaming outside, freezing inside. It’s too hot to cook, but I’m starving. I couldn’t eat another bite, but…a little something cold for dessert?
Oh, summer desserts. With a damp ponytail and flip-flops, you’d think I’d keep it simple, but no. That scoop of specked vanilla? Purity in a bowl. It needs nothing else, but it’s such a beautiful backdrop. Ice cream clearly welcomes the company of fruits and candies and other sweet bits.
My family’s always a little whacked in the heat, but if a gallon of ice cream appears we turn positively nuts – and bananas, too.
My seasonless weak spot for bananas was sealed long ago. Right after college I worked as an editor by day and in a bookstore at night, often skipping dinner but never missing a snack. By the 8 pm break I’d bolt from the store, run three doors down to Love’s Frozen Yogurt and demand sliced bananas over Double Chocolate Dutch. Seven minutes of frozen peace, one minute of trudge back to work.
Ever get on such a jag you think you might never get off? That whole year I set my watch by frozen yogurt. Standing at the register at 7:58, I was sure that if I didn’t taste chocolate and bananas soon, I’d poof into flame and take the book browsers with me.
And that, my friend, is a jag.
We tend to replace little obsessions with new ones. I no longer require two quick scoops at eight, but I still love chocolate and bananas, especially in summer, when they’re so sweet together they’re practically going steady.
Now, at a darn-close 100 degrees, I’d be crazy to sizzle bananas and dip pecans – but a few minutes at the stove won’t keep me from hot banana caramel and salty chocolate nuts. Which brings us to another upside-down summer thought: I do want to go the pool…I do not want to put on that suit.
Caramelized Banana Sundaes with Salty Chocolate Pecans
vanilla bean ice cream
2-3 bananas, slightly green, not quite ripe
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
dash of cinnamon
1 cup pecan halves
semi-sweet chocolate, about 3 oz
sea salt, for sprinkling
salty chocolate pecans:
Place semi-sweet chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl and use microwave to melt, heating at intervals of no more than 35 seconds each. Remove from microwave after each interval, two or three times, stirring to smooth. Dip each pecan halfway in melted chocolate, and place on a parchment or wax-paper lined sheet. Before chocolate sets, sprinkle chocolate pecans with sea salt. Place in refrigerator to set before serving.
Slice bananas in thick chunks. Place a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat – when hot, sizzle one tablespoon of butter for a few seconds, then add bananas.
Do not stir or move bananas for about 30 seconds; allow to brown. Use a heat-proof spatula to turn bananas over, then add brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining tablespoon of butter. Shaking pan to keep bananas moving, cook about one minute more, until sugar is melted and bananas are caramelized, but still solid. Remove from heat and serve.
Scoop ice cream into bowls. Top with generous amounts of warm caramelized bananas and chocolate pecans. Get out of the way fast, and serve.
serves 2-4, depending on serving size