What is nice cream and why should I be interested?
Nice cream, sometimes referred to as banana ice-cream or nana ice-cream, gets it’s name from the base fruit used to create this soft serve: bananas. Nice cream is a healthy alternative to traditional ice-cream. And since it’s a fruit and is sweetened naturally by the fructose found in the banana, it’s been deemed socially acceptable to eat at breakfast or dessert.
The theory behind creating nice cream is quite simple: blend frozen bananas to a glorious result. This is achieved by blending frozen bananas in a food processor or high speed blender. The beauty of nice cream lies in the fact that bananas are naturally sweet, and when frozen bananas are blended, they become super creamy and rich. Add to it, any flavourings you’d like and you have a naturally sweetened, dairy-free treat that’s free of chemicals.
What should I expect?
Nice cream is one of those things that you either feel excited or skeptical about. It’s a smooth, creamy consistency, that’s softer than soft serve, in my opinion. It combines with flavouring quite easily, so if you whip up a chocolate nice cream, it’ll taste like chocolate, with a banana aftertaste and smell, and it melts easily since it’s all natural. It’s something you’ll have to try for yourself, but seriously, do try it. I’ve even had someone who doesn’t like bananas tell me that they really enjoyed my nice cream. It is amazing, and oh so healthy. What’s not to love?
So, how can I make my own?
As we’ve said before, all you need is a food processor and some frozen bananas. However, when you’ve seen countless exotic creations online, sporting multiple layers, colours and flavours, and your creation ends up looking more like milkshake than soft serve, you begin to wonder what you’ve done wrong. Fear not, the solutions are pretty simple, and through trial and error I’ve discovered these top tips:
1. Make sure that your bananas are ripe.
Now I know that sometimes the thought of trying something new gives you an itch to do it…right now. But trust me when I say that you need ripe bananas. Not half-ripe, not almost ripe, but completely ripe. You certainly shouldn’t see any green spots on your bananas. On the contrary, you’re looking for spotty bananas, with peels that have softened. Bananas that are still ripening have not reached their sweetness potential yet, and will yield an unpleasant, almost flavourless nice cream.
2. Freeze your unpeeled, chopped bananas overnight.
People say that you can freeze bananas with their peels in tact, but after trying this once, I decided not to repeat it. The peels may come off easily, but you’ll have to strategically score them and then peel. If that doesn’t go well, you’ll find yourself cutting the peels from the flesh. Thereafter, you’ll have to cut the frozen banana into pieces before blending. What works best for me is to peel ripened bananas, then chop them into quarters. I place it in a reusable zip-lock bag, and freeze overnight.
Pro-tip 1: By cutting the bananas into quarters, you’re able to keep track of how many bananas you’re using, if that’s of any value to you. I find it useful for creating recipes, and also for achieving the desired consistency.
Pro-tip 2: I usually buy two bunches of bananas when we go grocery shopping. I leave one bunch for fresh use in our fruit bowls, smoothies and baked goods. The other bunch, I prepare and freeze so we always have an option available for making nice cream or thick shakes. It’s also a lifesaver for the days we’ve actually run out of fresh fruit.
3. Only blend 2 bananas at a time.
I come from a large family, so I’m accustomed to scaling recipes to yield enough for larger numbers. When I first tried this with nice cream, I added 10 bananas to my food processor. This resulted in a liquid consistency that had to be frozen for a few hours. I ended up using it the next day, and frozen nice cream – though it takes ages to freeze initially – turns into a solid block overnight. So while it tasted magical, the consistency left much to be desired. For these reasons, I recommend blending 2 bananas at a time. It happens to be a serving size, which works out perfectly, but even when you’re nice cream to share, it’s worth doing 2 bananas at a time, to achieve that creamy, dreamy, fluffy consistency.
4. Return batches to freezer while busy.
When making breakfast nice cream for the hubs and I, I usually allow the first serving to sit while I blend up the second. However, when preparing multiple flavours, I find it useful to blend a batch, then return it to the freezer in a bowl while working on the rest. It won’t freeze, but since nice cream melts quickly, it really helps to keep it chilled.
5. Serve immediately.
Sure, you can freeze it for a couple of hours, and it won’t be frozen, but in my opinion, it’s best served immediately. Plus, after whipping up some, it takes a lot of self restraint to not dive in! 🙂
How do I flavour my nice cream?
The combinations are endless. You can flavour it any way you like. Here are some ideas:
- Cacao powder = chocolate nice cream
- Cacao powder + strongly brewed coffee = mocha nice cream
- Strawberries = strawberry nice cream
- Blueberries = blueberry nice cream
- Matcha + natural sweetener = matcha nice cream
- Vanilla extract + cinnamon = vanilla nice cream
- Peppermint essence + matcha / green food coloring = mint nice cream
Be sure to check out some of my recipes.
**Please note that I use a food processor to make my nice cream, and developed this guideline through my own experiences using a food processor. Some of these points may not be relevant if you’re using a high-speed blender.