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Published June 26, 2012, 11:30 PM

Doeden: Ice cream alternative satisfies that craving for a cool treat

I had my eye on an old ice cream maker at an antique shop a couple of weeks ago. I found it as I crouched on the floor digging through a cardboard box filled with an array of treasures someone must have dropped off at the shop.

I had my eye on an old ice cream maker at an antique shop a couple of weeks ago.

I found it as I crouched on the floor digging through a cardboard box filled with an array of treasures someone must have dropped off at the shop. It was an old hand-cranked model with a deep narrow tin inside of a round wooden container, with room for packing in plenty of salt and ice.

I took the old ice cream maker up to the counter. I was getting close to the purchase when I silently reminded myself I already have two large electric ice cream makers on a shelf in the basement. They work fine.

When our family gets together, one ice cream maker just doesn’t make enough of the frozen stuff to satisfy their sweet, rich and creamy desires. And in my freezer, I have two inserts for my Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet and Ice Cream Maker, ready to go whenever the ice cream urge hits. I convinced myself I didn’t need to bring home another ice cream maker to add to my collection.

I did bring home a craving for ice cream, though.

I’ve discovered I can have a creamy frozen treat in minutes using frozen fruit and my food processor. Yes. Just frozen fruit. No need for high-fat, high-calorie cream. No need for sugar. Just pure fruit.

The base of this faux ice cream is frozen ripe bananas, which make a thick tasty treat all by themselves when they are pureed in a food processor. Add some frozen berries and the creamy mixture can fool even the most discerning ice cream palate.

For a more neutral-flavored base, use bananas that have just begun to develop little brown spots. That’s usually about the same time many banana-loving families start to ignore them. Rather than putting whole, unpeeled bananas into the freezer as I often do when I’m building my stash for banana muffin baking day, I peel the bananas, slice them into thin rounds and freeze them overnight in a single layer on a platter.

When it’s time to make “ice cream,” just scrape the frozen banana slices into a food processor, add some frozen berries and turn on the machine.

The frozen fruit will turn into a crumbly mixture as it whirls around in the food processor, making it necessary to stop the machine and scrape down the sides several times. Then, like magic, the mixture seizes, forming a thick, luxurious mass that falls somewhere between soft serve and hard ice cream. It is scoopable and will hold its shape for a short time.

I like to put my ice cream bowls in the freezer for a while before serving the frozen dessert. Scoops of Banana-Berry “Ice Cream” will stay pretty a little longer in cold bowls.

If you want to make Banana Berry “Ice Cream” Pops, add a little bit of liquid to the frozen fruit as it transitions from crumbles to cream. If you want to keep it non-dairy, almond milk works well. I added a tablespoon of the thick white layer of coconut cream that’s found at the top of a can of coconut milk when it’s opened to give the Pops extra richness. That is purely optional.

Banana-Berry “Ice Cream” is a guilt-free pleasure that is best eaten as soon as it is made. The texture changes a bit when it has spent time in the freezer, but it is still delicious. Unless you make several batches at a time, I doubt you’ll have any “ice cream” left to put into the freezer.

Banana-Berry “Ice Cream” is so easy to make and even easier to eat. No fancy ice cream maker needed.

Sue Doeden is a food writer and photographer from Bemidji, Minn., and a former Fargo resident. Her columns are published in 10 Forum Communications newspapers.

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