You don’t see it as much today, but banana ice cream was actually very popular in the late 19th century, when faster transportation methods like the steamship and railroad increased the availability of bananas in the U.S., particularly the markets of New York, Philadelphia and Boston. This is evident by the slew of recipes found in cookbooks from the timeframe such as Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book by Boston Cooking School instructor Mary Lincoln, Miss Parloa's New Cook Book by Maria Parloa of the New York Cooking School, and The Table: How to Buy Food, how to Cook It, and how to Serve it by Delmonico chef Alexander Filippini.
Filippini’s is the recipe I followed, as I’ve long had a fascination with Delmonico’s and its fabulous historic dishes. Here’s the original:
Banana Ice Cream.
One pint of cream, one pint of milk, half pound of sugar, yolks of six eggs, four bananas. Scald the milk. Beat yolks and sugar together until light; add to the milk and cook until it thickens, stirring constantly. Add the cream, and when cool the bananas, which should be mashed through a colander. Freeze and pack as directed.
I’d love to try to make this elegant dessert someday, but first need to find the type of specialty gelatin mold required. So for now, I’ll stick to the Delmonico banana ice cream recipe. The result was divinely rich and devoured by my taste testers!
- 1 pint whole milk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 4 bananas
- Pour the milk into a heavy bottom saucepan or double boiler. Slowly heat milk over medium-low heat but do not bring it to a boil. Stir continuously to prevent milk from thickening, burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Look for steam and small bubbles around the edges of the pan.
- Mix the sugar and egg yolks until light in color and well combined.
- Add sugar mixture to the milk and cook until it thickens, stirring constantly.
- Add the cream and let cool.
- Mash the bananas separately (I used a potato masher) and put through a sieve or colander. Add the bananas to the cream mixture and mix well. Pour the whole mix into an ice cream machine container then follow ice cream instructions to freeze. (Mine takes 20-30 min to run and then a few hours in the freezer).