Monday, March 23, 2015

Banana Mousse Fails Into Ice Cream

We at A Book of Cookrye, as mentioned before, have a lot of bananas in the freezer. Always up for new things, we looked up recipes online which were surprisingly normal. Most of them were variations on banana bread (muffins, pancakes, &c), though some daring person put sliced bananas into store-bought crêpes. However, this turned up in our 1934 cookbook:

A Book of Selected Recipes, Mrs George O Thurn, 1934
Looks easy enough, doesn't it? Incidentally, this is the only banana recipe in the whole book. Granted, said book has only 38 pages of recipes, but since each page has around six recipes on it, that's a lot of recipes to only mention bananas once.

Banana Mousse
2 c milk
2 eggs
1 c sugar
½ tsp salt
5 bananas
½ pint cream

Beat sugar, salt, and eggs in the top of a double boiler until thoroughly mixed (a whisk may be needed to get rid of those last persistent unmixed bits of egg). Stir in the milk.
Put over hot water and cook, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from heat and put plastic wrap over it, pressing it down so it makes contact with the surface (this prevents a skin forming). Set aside until cooled.
Mash the bananas and mix them in. For very smooth mousse, after you have mashed the bananas enough for a liquid to form, put them in a blender and pulse until thoroughly smooth. You may need to blenderize them in 2 or 3 batches. But this extra step is optional, and the banana mousse will be very lovely either way.
Whip the cream* until stiff peaks form. Fold it in, taking care to stir up from the very bottom of the pot. Gently stir the whole thing at the end to make sure the cream is thoroughly mixed in.
Freeze until firm.

*To save dishes, you can mash the bananas with a mixer, then use the same bowl without rinsing it or the beaters to whip the cream.

A Book of Selected Recipes, Mrs. George O. Thurn, 1934

I find it interesting that bananas are one of the few things in the produce section people will routinely cook long after they're overripe. Even I used to carefully cut out the brown parts of apples before making pies. But bananas? A lot of people have them in the freezer and see nothing wrong with making food out of them when they look like this.

Also those who decide to just dump the first ingredients in the pot should know that after a long time flogging them with a wooden spoon, you'll still have a pot full of this:
Kind of looks like terrazzo.

We at A Book of Cookrye, after fuming at our own absent-mindedness, managed to fix it in under 30 seconds.
We already had to get the mixer out for this recipe anyway.

Patient people would have left it sitting out to cool. Intelligent patient people would have refrigerated it. However, we do not believe in such unjustified long waits.
Ten minutes, baby!

The custard had smelled utterly divine as it cooked. A lot of people came into the kitchen to dip a spoon into the pot, and I seriously considered stopping right there and putting it into bowls. However, I'd already gotten out the bananas. Besides, what good is making a dessert without at least one step that looks like someone had the dire rear on your food?
A good source of potassium!

At any rate, a quick check of the label revealed the cream was adulterated.
If I wanted half-and-half I'd have bought it.

This may explain why the cream whipped but didn't expand all that much. Well, Mrs. George O Thurn never specified the cream be whipped to stiff peaks, much less how big said peaks should be.

However, the anticlimactically whipped cream did make this finally look decent instead of a sickly shade of brown. Seeing what color this ended up led to wondering why banana-flavored things are always dyed yellow. The part of the banana you actually eat isn't yellow, nor is anything you actually make with bananas.

We at A Book of Cookrye would like to heartily recommend banana recipes to people with lots of furry pets. Given how many fibers come off the bananas when you cook with them, a few stray pet hairs that float into your food will blend right in.

Five hours (and even a whole night) of refrigeration didn't do this much good. Perhaps I only cooked the custard until thickened when I should have cooked it to really thickened.
I think it's meant to not be banana glop.

However, always willing to salvage near-failures, we shoved the pot in the freezer and declared it banana ice cream.

It was amazing. True, it was slightly grainy, but this is one of the first times I've been asked what went in it so we could get the stuff and make another batch.
 Also, while Googling Mrs. George O Thurn whose cookbook this recipe came from, I found this.

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