"Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy. To do nothing and have it count for something. To lie in the grass and count the stars. To sit on a branch and study the clouds." (Regina Brett) With an extended heat wave continuing here in the midwest, I have given myself permission to have moments of laziness. Rather than take on the making of an ambitious recipe or turning on the oven to bake a pie (because it's pie week in the foodblog world) or a cake (because it's birthday week in my world), I am instead taking the time to actually read and not skim through some of the cookbooks bought in recent months. Which not so unpredictably has caused my heart to race and brain go into overload. With a pretty high degree of confidence, I don't think this is what laziness is supposed to feel like. Trying to refrain from turning on the oven feels more like a punishment than a welcome, if only a short-lived, reprieve. Because after all, what would a birthday be without a homemade cake?
Earlier last week I dipped some slices of banana in dark chocolate, sprinkled them with flaky sea salt and then put them in the freezer. Many have claimed a frozen banana very closely resembles ice cream. Epicurious ranked them first on their list of the eleven foods that taste amazing frozen. While we can't believe everything we read on the internet or in the opinions of foodbloggers, this would be one of those times when fact and opinion were in complete sync with one another. Taking somewhat of a slight departure here, my dissertation advisor and friend recently posted the article "No It's Not Your Opinion, You're Just Wrong". Regardless of the arena you work in, but especially if you work in higher education, you might enjoy this quick read. You might even make it required reading.
Okay, back to the chocolate covered bananas. As much as I loved these 'little' bites, warm hands, hot weather, and chocolate don't play nice with each other. So I wanted to try putting the bananas on a popsicle stick. Of course, I didn't want to use the 'normal', long, slender popsicle sticks, I wanted those shorter, shapely, 'bowtie' ones. Nor did I want to cut the bananas in half widthwise and insert the stick in the cut end of the banana, because I wanted them to be a little more like a three-bite healthy, slightly indulgent snack versus one bordering on the 'healthier than ice cream' meal size. In the spirit of full disclosure, I probably made it a little harder on myself, but I absolutely loved how they turned out.
These can be either a three ingredient or a four ingredient Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas w/ Sea Salt treat. Having recently read somewhere (and now I cannot find the resource to give credit where credit should be given), adding a small amount of white chocolate to dark and/or semi-sweet chocolate creates a creamier, glossier finish to the set chocolate. However, if you have had great success tempering dark and/or semi-sweet chocolate without the use of white chocolate, then making these bananas becomes a three ingredient endeavor.
Your choice of bananas matters significantly. Like Goldilocks search for the perfect bed to sleep in, don't choose a banana that is too hard (or underripe) and don't choose one that is too soft (or overripe, banana bread making perfect). Choose bananas that are 'just right', somewhere between too hard and too soft. I understand this may not be precise enough for those of you who have never made chocolate covered frozen bananas before. So my best guidance on 'just right' is simply 'almost ripe but still firm' and with the peels being mostly yellow but still having a tinge of green. I know this still may not be precise enough. If anyone out there has a better description of 'just right' bananas for dipping and freezing, please enlighten all of us and share!
Cutting bananas on the diagonal, in approximately 2 1/2-3" lengths and with a thickness of approximately 3/4", made it possible to successfully insert the bowtie popsicle sticks through the center or side of the banana. In choosing to insert the popsicle stick in two different places, the finished bananas looked more whimsical than uniform. In my world, whimsy is a good thing. Once the sticks are inserted into the bananas, place on a parchment paper or foil lined baking sheet and put in the freezer. The tray of bananas should be uncovered and remain in the freezer for at least two hours.
Within five minutes, the frozen bananas will begin to thaw when removed from the freezer. So when dipping them into the chocolate work in batches. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
After dipping all of the bananas, drizzle some of the remaining chocolate over the dipped bananas and immediately sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt. Return the bananas to the freezer until they are fully set (approximately 20 minutes). Remove from the baking sheet and place in a tightly sealed freezer safe container or in freezer plastic storage bags. You can also wrap them in cellophane and tie off with a ribbon or string.
If you like your frozen chocolate covered bananas firm when you bite into them, serve them right out of the freezer. If you like them to be a little on creamy side, allow them to sit out for 5 minutes before serving. Either way you serve them, they are incredibly delicious. Perfect to satisfy a sweet tooth craving for 'ice cream' on a hot summer day. They definitely fall into the category of a guilt-free pleasure.
If the summer heat is just too much and you can't bring yourself to turn on the oven to make a homemade birthday cake, at least make something chocolate, something that tastes like ice cream. Because a birthday without cake is one thing, but a birthday without both cake and ice cream is a whole different story. These homemade Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas w/ Sea Salt for the ice cream part of the birthday celebration should be more than enough to salvage the day.
Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas
4-5 large bananas, almost ripened but still firm, cut on the diagonal in 3/4" widths (if inserting popsicle sticks) or cut into 1/2" widths (if dipping only)
1 pound dark or semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped
Flaky Sea Salt for finishing
Alternate and probably easier way to cut bananas: Using 6-7 medium bananas, cut the bananas in half, widthwise, and insert the popsicle stick through the cut end of each half.
1. Line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or foil.
2. Place cut bananas (either with or without a popsicle stick inserted in) on one of the prepared baking sheets. Place in freezer, uncovered, for at least two hours.
3. Melt dark or semi-sweet chocolate in either the microwave or over a double boiler. Note: Add chopped white chocolate to melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate to temper the chocolate. Stir until smooth.
4. Working in batches, dip bananas one at a time into the melted chocolate and place on the second prepared baking sheet.
5. Drizzle remaining chocolate over dipped bananas and sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.
6. Return dipped bananas to the freezer. When completely set (approximately 20 minutes) place frozen bananas in a sealed container or in freezer ziplock bags.
7. Enjoy directly out of the freezer or set out for at least five minutes before serving.
Farmer's Market Cinnamon Cake Donuts and Pretzels.