The first time I had banana-based ice cream was probably about 15 years ago. I hadn’t been vegan very long. I had already been vegetarian for many years, was making my way in a very un-vegan-friendly world. I didn’t miss ice cream too much, as there were a few non-dairy brands available at the time, but going cheeseless was a little tough.
There was a vegan food festival put on by EarthSave at Lincoln Center one hot summer’s day. I don’t remember what it was called it, but I know they didn’t use the word “vegan,” because they didn’t want to scare anyone off. It was the first time I had been to any kind of veg-friendly festival, and it seemed magical. Dr. Furhman, Marion Nestle, and Wayne Pacelle spoke, long before most people knew who they were, and there was lots of vegan food to partake in.
One of New York City’s raw food restaurants (I can’t remember who it was, but I think it might have been the now defunct Bonobos) had a stand selling banana ice cream, and I decided to give it a try. I could pick the type of fruit we wanted mixed with it, so I picked cherries. They’re my favorite fruit, and I just can’t get enough them in the summer! To make it, frozen bananas were fed through what looked like a meat grinder (I’m sure it wasn’t) along with the cherries. It was simple and delicious. I was amazed.
I recreated the treat at home using my food processor and was soon hooked. The addition of a little bit of chopped chocolate made it even more heavenly. Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt had been a staple in my diet before going vegan, and at the time, none of the non-dairy ice creams available had a similar flavor. Of course, Ben and Jerry’s has vegan Cherry Garcia now, but this is a much healthier treat!
Since then, “nice cream,” which is what banana-based ice cream is now known by, is quite popular. I’ve seen recipes on some of my favorite blogs for all kinds of deliciously creative flavors, and I love them all! My original Chocolate Cherry Nice Cream might not be the most original, but with just three or four ingredients, it’s super easy to make, and it remains my favorite.
- 2 bananas
- 1 ½ cups cherries, pitted (fresh or thawed frozen cherries)
- Splash of almond milk, optional
- ½ cup dairy-free chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
- Slice the bananas into small chunks, place in an airtight container, and place in the freezer. Freeze for 2 to 8 hours. (The longer they’ve been in the freezer the better.)
- In a food processor or blender, process the banana chunks and 1 cup of the cherries. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. If the mixture seems to thick, add a little almond milk. Once smooth, add the rest of the cherries and the chocolate. Give it one or two more pulses, just to break the cherries up.
- Serve immediately if you like soft ice cream, or transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid.