Are frozen bananas the vegan hack your summer has been waiting for?
Vegan ice-cream, or 'vice cream' as it should probably never be known, ranges from ultra-fiddly recipes using a dozen different ingredients and an ice-cream maker, to recipes so beautifully simple that you could shout them from a passing bicycle and still have time left to suggest toppings. Guess which we've tried?
THAT'S RIGHT, the easy one. Frozen banana ice-cream is fast becoming a trend in its own right, because as well as being dairy-free, it's raw, can be made without any added sugar, and often incorporates bonus ingredients like peanut butter. Smug points all round.
With the texture of soft serve (which is the trendy name for Mr Whippy) and the flavour of virtually anything you mix with it, it might just be the vegan holy grail – a versatile pud you can rustle up in a literal minute, which will impress dairy-dodging and dairy-loving guests alike.
Is it actually easy?
It turns out: yes! The secret is all in the prep, cutting the banana into one-inch chunks before you freeze it – and making sure you have a good strong food processor or blender that can break them down afterwards. The magic moment happens after you've been blending for about 30 seconds, when the banana suddenly turns from pieces to paste and starts looking like convincing gelato.
The recipe can be as simple as 'blend frozen banana, eat' but we thought we'd push the boat out by incorporating a whole two more ingredients – peanut butter and cocoa powder – for a darkly delicious treat inspired by a bunch of healthy bloggers, including The Londoner, The Lemon Bowl and The Sassy Cook. And of course by Reese's, patron saint of chocolate and peanut butter.
We tried this out on the hottest day of the year, so the result was on the softer side of soft serve – but if you're feeling patient, you can pop it in the freezer to firm it up. We also experimented with different amounts of cocoa powder and opted for a classy, slightly bitter dark chocolate, but you could use less and add agave nectar if you prefer things a little sweeter.
Is the texture like ice-cream?
Not completely (nothing in life is perfect, your mum should have taught you that), but it’s pretty darn close. It’s actually a bit more substantial than ice-cream, with a rich, slightly glutinous consistency that won’t melt too quickly.
If you're an experienced dairy-free ice-cream lover and soya fro-yo doesn't satisfy your pangs, this almost certainly will.
Is it super banana-y?
The answer to this one is annoying: if you like bananas, you probably won’t think it tastes of banana. You’ll taste the cocoa and the peanut butter and be utterly amazed by the banana’s ability to slip coyly into the background and let the other flavours shine.
But if you hate banana, all you will taste is banana. It’ll be a banana flavourbomb, screaming “BANANA! BANANA!” like a hyperactive minion in your mouth. Sorry.
Can I use other flavours with the banana?
You betcha! Nut butters work well because they lend a substantial silkiness to the mix, but you can play around with other vegan combos to your heart’s content.
Among the variations already whizzed up by the good people of the internet, we’ve found:
- Vegan cake batter ice-cream
- Vegan cherry Garcia soft serve
- Butter maple pecan ice-cream
- AND strawberry swirl breakfast ice-cream (because lack of breakfast ice-cream is the thing that’s been wrong with your mornings).
But peak vegan dessert might just be this avocado and banana version by Divine Healthy Food. There's coconut in it too, obviously.
Instant vegan chocolate and peanut butter ice-cream
Makes one generous portion – because nobody actually likes sharing.
- 1 medium banana, sliced and frozen until solid
- 1 tbsp peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
You will need: a sturdy blender or food processor, a freezer and an appetite.
1. Blitz all the ingredients together in the food processor
It'll sound slightly alarming at first, as the blades churn up the solid banana.
2. Keep blitzing
Probably don't do this at 10pm if you have sensitive neighbours.
3. And a bit more...
Has the magic transformation happened yet? HAS IT?
4. Serve and enjoy!
Congratulations. You just made vegan ice-cream, in probably less time than it takes to milk a cow.