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The Ultimate Banana Split

Going to the ice cream parlor as a kid, banana splits always seemed like the ultimate decadence. With caramelized bananas, buttery toasted almonds, warm fudge sauce and fresh cherries, it’s clear that this is not your average banana split. But it’s perfect for adult tastes. Buy the best ice cream you can find, or, better yet, make your own.

Ingredients:

For the hot fudge sauce:

  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  •  
  • 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 firm, ripe bananas
  • 8 tsp. plus 2 Tbs. sugar
  • About 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
  • Whipped cream
  • 4 cherries with stems

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. To make the hot fudge sauce, in a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes, then add 1/2 tsp. of the vanilla and whisk until smooth. Let cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, on a small rimmed baking sheet, toss together the almonds and butter, then spread in a single layer. Place in the oven and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the salt. Let cool on the baking sheet.

Halve the unpeeled bananas lengthwise. Sprinkle the cut sides of each banana half with 1 tsp. sugar. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat.

In batches to avoid crowding, add the banana halves, cut sides down, and cook just until the sugar is caramelized, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.

In a chilled bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of cream, 2 Tbs. sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Using a handheld mixer on medium-high speed, beat until soft peaks form.

To make each banana split, peel 2 banana halves and arrange, caramelized sides up, in a banana-split dish or an oblong bowl. Place 3 scoops of ice cream between the banana halves. Top with the hot fudge sauce, a sprinkle of the toasted almonds and a large dollop of whipped cream. Perch a cherry on top and serve at once. Serves 4.

Variation: Many ice cream parlors make their banana splits with a scoop each of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, and you may wish to follow suit. Or, use your favorite flavor of ice cream. You can also substitute toasted peanuts or cashews for the almonds.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).