happy birthday erica!

Yesterday was Erica’s birthday. She was away this weekend, giving us ample time to make her some treats to enjoy upon her return.

Erica’s birthday request was for an iced lemon cake, one of Mom’s specialties. Mom was excited to take control of her baking equipment from me for a few hours and whipped up this beautiful bundt cake. It was moist, lemony, and the perfect platform for a crown of candles.

I was going to let the lemon cake be Erica’s sole birthday treat, but I realized that not making her something myself would be borderline blasphemous. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at ice cream for a while, so I set out to make it my afternoon project. Inspired by Erica’s favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor, Chunky Monkey, I concocted a sweet banana ice cream with candied walnuts, an espresso fudge ripple, and some chocolate chips for good measure. The smooth and fresh banana flavor contrasted beautifully with the strong bite of chocolate espresso and the crunchiness of the walnuts. We managed to make a nice dent in the container.

Happy birthday to a great sister and blogmate!

Recipe for ice cream after the jump.

Banana Ice Cream with Espresso Fudge Ripple and Candied Walnuts
Adapted from here

For Banana Ice Cream:

½ cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
5 egg yolks
1 pint heavy cream
¾ cup plus 4 tsp milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 ripe bananas
Espresso Fudge Ripple (recipe follows)
Candied Walnuts (recipe follows)
½ cup chocolate chips

Combine the bananas with the lemon juice and blend or mash until smooth. Place them in a small saucepan with 2 tbsp sugar and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until just warmed (it will release a strong banana aroma).

Beat the rest of the sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Bring the milk to a low simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat. Beat the milk into the eggs and sugar in a slow stream. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly (around 150-160°F) and just coats the back of a spoon. Immediately remove from the heat and mix in the bananas. Transfer the custard into a small container, cover, and refrigerate until cool.

Whip the cream until it has doubled in volume (you should have soft peaks – don’t over-whip). Fold the cream into the custard. Use an ice cream machine and freeze the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions (mine froze for 25 minutes). Add the fudge ripple and walnuts when there are 5 minutes left of mixing. Transfer to a container and place in the freezer. About 2 hours after being placed in the freezer (it will still be semi-soft), add the chocolate chips. Freeze until solid.

Espresso Fudge Ripple
¼ cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp strong brewed coffee

Melt chocolate and coffee in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir mixture until smooth and spread on a small parchmet-lined pan. Place pan in the freezer for about an hour, until it is solid, but pliable. In the last five minutes of mixing, break the fudge into strips or large chunks and add them to the ice cream mixture to create a ripple effect.

Candied Walnuts
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
Salt

Mix ingredients. Toast walnuts in a 350° oven for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from pan immediately and place nuts on parchment paper to cool. Add them to the ice cream in the last five minutes of mixing.

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