Chocolate ‘Ice Cream’ (with bananas)

Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

You know when you buy a hand of bananas and suddenly they’re all too ripe and no-one wants to eat them and you get annoyed because you’ve spent the money and now it’s being wasted and it doesn’t matter what you do it seems like you can never get it right and why is life so unfair?

Take a breath. Calm down.

Firstly, freeze your bananas. If they’re getting past the eating-as-a-fresh-banana stage, then peel them and pop them into a ziploc bag and put them in the freezer. They can be defrosted and used in cakes and muffins and what-not at a later stage.

If you don’t want them to stick together, so you can take out one or two at a time, then freeze them separately before you place them in the bag. They will live in there quite happily for many months.

And don't they look attractive?

And don’t they look attractive?

Then you can make ice cream out of them.

Yes. I said ice cream. Frozen bananas can be used to make a soft serve ice cream which is wonderful for those with a lactose intolerance. Cold affects the performance of your taste buds, so the banana flavour fades right away and you are left with a cold, creamy substance that you can add other flavours to. Like chocolate.

This requires a food processor with a metal blade. I’m sorry, there’s really not an alternative to the use of an appliance for this.

The metal blade of a food processor is the secret ingredient here.

The metal blade of a food processor is the secret ingredient here.

Also, I had quite a few bananas I wanted to use as I wanted the freezer space. So the pictures you see here will be of about three times the quantity that will be made from the recipe provided.

Making the actual dessert is super simple. Get the kids involved (just don’t let them lick the blade…)

Cut your bananas into chunks and put them into the processor bowl.

Chunky bananas.

Chunky bananas.

Now sift in a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder. I used Dutch process cocoa because that’s what I had. If you’re an Aussie and you have some to spare, then try using Milo instead.

Add cocoa.

Add cocoa.

Now add some vanilla extract and a touch of salt. The salt will help to accent the sweetness of the bananas.

I used sea salt flakes - you don't have to.

I used sea salt flakes – you don’t have to.

Then add a dollop of sweetener if you really want to. I added a touch of honey, but it’s really not necessary. Bananas are full of natural sugars – don’t for a moment start thinking of this as a low calorie alternative to regular dairy ice-creams.

*Diabetics be warned, this will make your sugars spike.*

I added some totally unnecessary honey.

I added some totally unnecessary honey.

You may like to add a few tablespoons of a nut butter here. Peanut butter works fine, or you can try almond or sunflower butter instead. The oils in the butter give the final dessert a smoother texture and “mouth feel.” I didn’t have any, so I didn’t.

I did find that it wasn’t blending as smoothly as I would have liked, so I drizzled in some buttermilk that I had in the refrigerator. Adding yoghurt would also work – and this can be dairy, soy or coconut – or you could just add a little vegetable oil.

None of these things is absolutely vital.

Put the lid on your processor and pulse a few times to get it going.

It will form a thick paste.

It will form a thick paste.

Keep blending until you reach the desired texture. I wanted a smoother blend and added a drizzle of buttermilk to loosen it up a little. I stopped blending when it looked like this.

Chocolate soft serve Icecream

Chocolate soft serve Icecream

You may serve it immediately. If you are making it with kids, you’ll probably have to serve it immediately.

Otherwise, place it in a sealed container and re-freeze.

Put in a container and freeze. Temporarily.

Put in a container and freeze. Temporarily.

When the time comes to serve it up, remove it from the freezer at least 15 minutes beforehand to soften.  You may end up with a sprained wrist otherwise.

Enjoy.

Chocolate 'Ice-cream' (banana)

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

3 medium bananas, peeled, cut in chunks and frozen

½ tsp vanilla extract

pinch salt

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

optional:

  • sweetener such as honey or maple syrup
  • 3-5 tbsps peanut butter or similar
  • 2-3 tbsps Greek yoghurt or buttermilk

Method

Place the metal ‘S’ blade in a food processor.

Combine the first four ingredients in the bowl and blend until smooth. Add the optional ingredients if you wish.

Serve immediately.

May be stored in a sealed container in the freezer, but remove at least 15 minutes before serving if you do so. The warmer the ice-cream the more it will resemble soft serve.

Variations:

  • Mix through chopped nuts or choc chips.
  • Use another frozen fruit e.g. strawberries, blueberries, frozen mango etc., instead of the cocoa powder for a fruit flavoured dessert.

 

Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

I spent yesterday in various parts of Melbourne, so there was very little done in the Budget Bounty kitchen. Although I did pop into one company to price containers for some food-based products I’m thinking of selling in the future. Maybe. Perhaps.

Anyway, leftovers were the order of the day when we got home and we were very happy to have those porcupine meatballs to warm up and serve with a quick mashed potato. This is a picture from the night before, when we dished them up onto a bed of sweet potato that we had cooked in the slow cooker.

Porcupine meatballs, cooked in the pressure cooker.

Porcupine meatballs, cooked in the pressure cooker.

Both times they were yummy!

Today I kept myself a little busier. I have been given more lemons, so more lemon butter was made (natch!).

Lemon butter anyone?

Lemon butter, anyone?

I made a double batch, because I wanted to give some away and I wanted to make these. Hidden Treasure Muffins, but made using the lemon butter instead of Dulce de Leche this time. The Boy was keen to take some into the office tomorrow.

I wanted something low fuss for dinner, so I filled my small crock pot with my Lentil and Barley Hot Pot.

That’s smelling luscious and I’m looking forward to tucking in soonish. I also decided to do something with a bag of frozen, over-ripe bananas that are taking up space in my freezer and annoying me.

And don't they look attractive?

And don’t they look attractive?

So I turned them into chocolate ice-cream. The Boy came in as I was finishing and decided it was his duty as The Man of The House to lick the bowl.

Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

Chocolate soft serve ice-cream.

He declared it to be “good.”

Yes. I will be posting instructions for this very soon. I’m going to have my dinner first though.

See you all soon!

Apple and Oat Bars

Stay calm and eat Apple and Oat Bars...

Last night, The Boy declared – out of the blue – that I should do a muesli (granola) bar recipe. Because school goes back next week or something and this could be useful to people.

I think he just wanted muesli bars.

I also think he could have told me before I did the fortnight’s shopping and could stock up on the expensive stuff that goes into these snacks.

So, I compromised. I’m good at that.

I made these little Apple and Oat Bars from stuff I already had and which – most likely – you already have too. Because that is how we roll in the Budget Bounty kitchen.

Simple AND good-for-you-ish.

Simple AND good-for-you-ish.

The recipe for these came from one of the first cookbooks I ever bought for my now massive collection. It’s called Good Cooking by the people at Good Housekeeping and was published way back in 1988. Which is why I have changed one of the ingredients from margarine to butter…

It’s a recipe that literally takes only minutes to put together and which you could quite easily do with smaller versions of yourself HELPING.  Ahem.

You will need some butter, some honey, some brown sugar, some rolled oats and an apple or two. Also a bowl, a baking tin and a microwave proof jug and spatula.  Sound complicated?

After setting your oven to 190°C get out a set of scales and your microwave proof jug. Into your jug measure your butter, brown sugar and honey, like so:

Melt these things together.

Melt these things together.

Heat them for 1 minute at a time at 80% power until the butter is melted. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, if you wish.

While it is melting, measure the oats into a medium sized mixing bowl and line a baking tin with parchment. The original recipe called for an 18 cm/7 inch square cake tin.

Pour your now liquid ingredients into the oats and mix well.

Add the wet to the dry. Stir.

Add the wet to the dry. Stir.

Press half this mixture into the base of your tin. Do NOT do what I did and use a silicon tray. You want the oats to crisp up and they just get soggy if you follow my example. Honestly.

Press half your oats into something that isn't silicon and is preferably metal...

Press half your oats into something that isn’t silicon and is preferably metal…

Now get a large cooking apple (around 250 g worth), peel it and slice it thinly.  Arrange the apple slices in overlapping rows to cover the oat base.

Cover your base with overlapping slices of apple.

Cover your base with overlapping slices of apple.

Sprinkle your slices with cinnamon. I was cooking for an adult who likes it, so I also used ground ginger on mine.

Sprinkle with your choice of spice.

Sprinkle with your choice of spice.

Top with the rest of the oats, press down firmly and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.

Cut it into portions while still hot and in the pan. Leave in the tin to cool. You want your butter and honey to set before you try to move anything, or it will all fall apart.

Elevenses, Anyone?

Elevenses, Anyone?

Store in an airtight container somewhere cool. Wrap in cling film and send as part of a school lunch, serve as an after school snack or use to accompany a much deserved cuppa.

Easy. Affordable. Tasty.

Apple and Oat Bars

  • Servings: 12 -15
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

100 g/4 oz butter

60 g/2½ oz brown sugar

2 tbsp honey

225 g/8 oz rolled oats

1 large cooking apple (250 g/9 oz) peeled, cored and thinly sliced

ground cinnamon.

Method

Heat oven to 190°C/ 375°F.

Lightly grease or line an 18 cm/ 7 inch square shallow baking tin.

In a microwave proof jug or bowl, combine the first three ingredients and heat at 80% power for 1 minute intervals until melted. Stir together. This may be done in a small saucepan on the stove top if wished.

Measure the oats into a medium-sized bowl. Pour liquid ingredients over the oats and mix well.

Divide the mixture in two and press half into the base of your prepared tin.

Arrange the sliced apple over the top of the oats in overlapping rows.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Top with the remaining oats and press down gently.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Cut into slices while still hot and then leave in the tin until cool.

Variations:

  • For a gluten-free version, substitute a gluten free muesli or granola mix for the rolled oats.
  • Try using different spices for variety. A Pumpkin Pie spice mix might be just the thing for you.
  • Sprinkle a handful of sultanas over with the cinnamon.
  • Add a scattering of choc chips over the apple for a special treat.

 

Apple Cinnamon Scrolls

Apple Cinnamon Scrolls

This is another dish that builds on one covered previously – good old Scones! It’s moreish and quite delicious.

It’s also very easy. Actually, it’s almost criminally easy.

Criminal in that there is very little incentive not to just make a batch each and every day.

I created this dish in an attempt to recreate the apple scrolls I’m quite fond of getting from a local bakery. However, during our current budgetary regime, I simply can’t justify paying $4 for one of them. I can make a whole batch of these (8) for less than $2. Honestly.

It also takes about 30 mins from start to finish. Make it with the kids and then get them to make it for you. Often.

Herewith: start with a batch of scone dough. You’ll find the recipe here. Go make that up right now. We’re happy to wait for you. Once you get to the bit where you flatten it out, stop and head back here.

Shape and flatten your dough, using only your hands.

You are here.

Preheat your oven to 230ºC/475ºF. Now is the time to grab a small bowl and place ¼ cup of brown sugar into it.

Start the madness with some brown sugar.

Start the madness with some brown sugar.

Then add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon and mix well.

Add spice.

Add spice.

Peel a cooking apple and dice finely.

Take one Granny Smith.

Take one Granny Smith.

Mix into the sugar and spice.

This is your filling. Easy, wasn't it?

This is your filling. Easy, wasn’t it?

Now spread this over your scone dough as evenly as you can.

Add to your scone dough.

Add to your scone dough.

Roll it up from the long side and gently cut into evenly sized pieces.

Divide into evenly sized pieces.

Divide into evenly sized pieces.

Line a baking sheet with paper. Don’t miss this bit or you will have a big clean up job to do! Then place your slices on the paper cut side down. Squeeze them gently to round out any flattened edges. If you wish, you can brush with a little milk to aid in browning.

Place your scrolls on a tray.

Place your scrolls on a tray.

Bake for 10-15 mins, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

This is what you want.

This is what you want.

Can you see that shiny brown stuff on the paper? That’s caramel. Aren’t you glad you lined the pan?

Thought so.

Transfer the cooked scrolls to a rack wrapped in a clean cloth to keep them soft. Serve when you can resist no longer.

Apple Cinnamon Scrolls

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

1 x quantity Basic Scone Dough

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cooking apple e.g. Granny Smith

Method

Heat the oven to 230ºC/ 475ºF.

Prepare the scone dough and then pat out into a rough rectangle.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together.

Peel the apple and dice finely.

Mix the apple thoroughly into the sugar mixture.

Spread the apple as evenly as possible over the scone dough.

Roll the dough from the long side, making a sausage shape.

Cut into 8 even pieces. Start by cutting in half, then cutting each half in two and so on.

Line a baking tray with paper and place the slices of the roll onto it cut side down. Squeeze gently into a rounder shape.

If you wish, brush the tops of the scrolls with milk to make them brown nicely.

Bake 10-15 mins until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cool in a clean cloth to keep soft – or serve immediately.

Variations:  scatter a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans over the apple mixture before rolling up.

Hidden Treasure Muffins

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

So, you’ve made yourself some Dulce de Leche, or even some Lemon Curd – now what?

Make these.

Simple, tasty, made from things you’re likely to have already and hiding a sweet(er) surprise, what’s not to love about these morsels?

You now you want one.

You know you want one.

A batch or two of muffins mixed up on a Sunday afternoon and stored in an air-tight container can provide you with a week’s worth of school/work lunch treats. That can save you quite a bit of money over the medium to longer term, especially if you provide your own beverage as well.

They taste better than most mass-produced cakes (there’s a certain floury taste to things made from a premix) and you get to look mysterious when people beg you to tell them where you bought them…

Get picky. Eat only the best, and that usually means things made from scratch – it doesn’t mean things that are too difficult to make yourself. I promise.

These particular muffins make use of things you’ve already learned how to make here: dulce de leche and/or lemon curd.

Before I start to guide you through it, though, just a quiet word. Muffins are sensitive souls. They need a gentle touch – one that will let them know they are loved and then leave them alone…

In other words, don’t overmix them!

As soon as all the flour is incorporated, stop. Just stop. That is all.

Treat them gently, and you too could have a platter that looks like this.

A veritable treasure trove.

A veritable treasure trove.

If you do happen to overmix them, it simply means your muffins won’t rise as much and will be slightly denser in texture.

This is not a tragedy.

This is a reason to try again and see if you can improve your results.

Shall we begin?

Preheat your oven to Moderately Hot.

Start by sifting your Self Raising flour and baking soda together into a large mixing bowl.

Add your brown sugar, but be careful to pack it into your measuring cup first! When you tip it into the mixing bowl it will look like those sand castles you used to make with your bucket at the beach.

This is a brown sugar sandcastle.

This is a brown sugar sandcastle.

Mash it up with your spatula or wooden spoon to get rid of lumps and stir into the flour.

How are you doing so far?

Believe it or not — you’re nearly done!

Melt your butter. This can be done in a small saucepan over a low heat on the stove, or in a microwave.

I use a pyrex jug for mine and zap it at 50% for a minute and then repeat until it’s liquid. Then I stir the buttermilk into the milk.

Mix your butter and buttermilk together.

Mix your butter and buttermilk together.

If you can’t find buttermilk anywhere, then a 50/50 mix of plain yoghurt and milk will also work; alternatively add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and wait 5 minutes.

Break your egg into your butter mixture and whisk well with a fork.

Then make the ever-necessary well in your flour and pour the liquid into it.

Add the wet to the dry

Add the wet to the dry

Then stir – quickly and gently. Try stirring around the outside and then slicing underneath. It’s hard to describe and I think I may need to post a video at some stage.

In the meantime…just don’t beat the life out of it.

When all the ingredients are just combined. Stop. This is not a cake batter, it will not be smooth and liquid. It will look lumpy – like this.

Stop when it is just mixed together.

Stop when it is just mixed together.

Place some muffin cases into your muffin tray. You could just grease the cups, but the paper cases make eating your snacks a much cleaner experience, means they don’t stick together when stored and also make it easier to pack them for lunches.

If you don’t own a muffin tray (I’ve had mine for nearly 20 years, add it to your list.) then use a flat baking sheet or pizza tray and place double thickness muffin cases on top and close together. You could even do this in a cake tin, if you wished.

Dollop spoonfuls of the mix into the bottom of your muffin cups. Don’t spread or smooth the batter, just leave it as it falls.

Fill the bottom of your muffin cups.

Fill the bottom of your muffin cups.

Now for the fun bit. Deploy your fillings. I used a teaspoonful of dulce de leche per muffin in this example. It’s quite sweet and I thought that would be sufficient. You may use more, of course!

I would use a tablespoon of Lemon Curd for this purpose, but it’s still up to you (and how much you have to hand!)

It helps to fill a coffee cup with boiling water and dip your metal spoon into it before dipping it into your cold filling. The heat will cut through the cold caramel and help it to slip nicely off into the cups. There is no need to dry your spoon between dunkings.

Use a cup of hot water to help spoon out your filling.

Use a cup of hot water to help spoon out your filling.

Now cover your caramel with the rest of the muffin mix.

Hide the treasure.

Hide the treasure.

Pop into your hot oven to bake for 20 mins, while you wash up ;-).

If your oven is not fan-forced, you may wish to rotate the tray at the half-way point to ensure even browning.

When done, test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the thickest muffin. If it comes out clean of raw batter, it’s cooked. Just remember you may hit caramel or lemon curd too!

Allow to cool in the tray for 10-20 mins and then move to a cake rack to cool completely. Set up a guard if you wish to keep them for lunches during the week to come…

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Muffins: If you tire of using your Dulce de Leche or Lemon Butter in these, and the budget permits, then try sifting a ¼cup of cocoa in with your flour and using a cup of Nutella to fill with.

You’re welcome.

 

Hidden Treasure Muffins

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients:

2½ cups self raising flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (Baking Soda)

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

125g butter, melted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

2/3 cup Dulce de Leche or Lemon Curd

Method:

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan, or line with paper cases. (I find this makes transporting them a lot easier.)

Heat your oven to Moderately Hot – 200°C or 400°F.

Sift flour and bicarb into a large bowl.

Add brown sugar and break up any lumps as you stir them together.

In a pyrex measuring jug (for ease) heat your butter in a microwave for 1 minute at 50% power. Repeat until melted. (This step can be done in a small saucepan over low heat if a microwave is not available.)

Add butter milk to jug and whisk together, then add eggs. Mix liquid thoroughly.

Make a well in your flour and pour in all the liquid at once.

Fold together until just mixed. DO NOT BEAT!

Cover the bottom of your muffin cups with a tablespoon or so of the batter.

Place a spoonful or so (it is up to you how generous you wish to be…) of your caramel or lemon curd on to this and then top with the rest of the batter.

Bake on the top shelf of your oven for 20 mins, rotating the tray halfway through.

Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer through the thickest part of a muffin. If it comes out clean of batter, it’s done.

Leave to cool in the muffin tray for 20 mins or so, before removing to a cake rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!