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Monday, December 13, 2010

Please do not judge the recipe for The Best Banana Split Ever from Ratio: The Simple Code Behind Everyday Cooking by the picture. Michael Ruhlman is not to blame. Put it down to my incompetence at styling and photographing the dish.

My review of his book appeared today in print and after toiling away with my usual breads for the review, I thought I would post on a simple dish here: an ice cream. Although Ruhlman makes the ice cream for his Banana Split using a crème anglaise recipe, I have decided to use store-bought. With the many varieties available, there will be one to suit every taste. If you do want to make your own ice cream though, I suggest this recipe. It is one of the creamiest and most delicious I have ever tasted ­­– and it doesn't require an ice cream maker!

My intention in this post is to highlight the recipe for the Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Sauce, which is a component in the ice cream that Ruhlman presents in his book. The other saucy component, a chocolate ganache, is easy enough to make and just requires the same proportions of cream and very good chocolate, while the ice cream itself is a simple assembly.

The butterscotch sauce, though, requires some care; first of all, because you're melting sugar and that always comes with some risks (especially if you're as accident-prone as I am) and also since timing is important. Leave the caramelising sugar just a few seconds too long on the heat and it burns and is ruined. When made right, it is a wonderful sauce and I am already planning to drizzle it on some pancakes tomorrow morning.

A classic banana split comes with three scoops of ice cream ­­– vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ­­– in a long dish, with three types of toppings as well as nuts, whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. Ruhlman makes his own version with the butterscotch and chocolate sauces, and I have opted for coconut ice cream (Bounty, actually) and a piece of glacé pineapple for garnish. Very tropical. All it needs is a little paper umbrella.

From Michael Ruhlman's Ratio
Makes about 1½ cups

125g unsalted butter
250g dark brown sugar
250ml cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or an enamelled cast iron pot, combine the butter and sugar over medium heat and cook until sugar has melted completely and the mixture has taken on a thick frothy appearance (lava-like), 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Whisk in the cream until it is thoroughly  incorporated. Let it cool for 10 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
The Best Banana Split Ever
Serves 4-8

2 cups ice cream of preferred flavour(s)
4 ripe bananas
1 recipe butterscotch, warm (recipe above)
1 recipe ganache, warm  (recipe follows)
125ml cream, whipped to stiff peaks with 2 tablespoons sugar
4-8 maraschino cherries
  • Scoop portions of ice cream into 4 bowls (or 6 or 8). Split the bananas down the middle (and halve them if you wish) and arrange half to 1 banana per bowl. Pour about 55g each of the butterscotch and chocolate sauce over the bananas and ice cream. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry (or a piece of glacé pineapple, as I've used here),
Basic Ganache
Makes about 2 cups

250ml cream
250g delicious bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Bring the cream just to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate, wait 5 minutes for the chocolate to soften, then whisk the cream and chocolate until they're completely combined. Serve immediately or chill until you're ready to serve.

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