Banana Cream Pie Ice Cream Cake
When I was in culinary school, one of our instructors had a fabulous recipe for a banana ice cream cake with chocolate covered almonds and a Ritz cracker crust. Apparently, he was executive chef for several years at Nick’s Fishmarket, Tom Selleck’s restaurant in Honolulu, and this was one of his signature dishes. The Ritz cracker crust was Chef Eddie’s wife’s idea, but he allowed his crew to come up with a name for the cake. I believe it was called a Vanbanna.
The first time I made this cake, always without the chocolate covered almonds, because vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered almonds, as Chef Eddie used, is hard to come by, my husband thought he’d died and gone to heaven. Ritz crackers happen to be one of his favorite things to eat. But I didn’t remember making the cake after having kids. Ever. What a shame! I’d made ice cream cakes for lots of birthdays for different people, inspired by the one we made at school, but never for my own kids. So, when my son saw ice cream cakes at an ice cream shop and asked if I could make him one for his upcoming birthday I said, “Yes! I can!”
I have no idea where Chef Eddie’s recipe went, though I’m supposing it’s in a box in the attic of my mountain farmhouse down south, with other things we just didn’t have time to go through before we moved, so had to wing the recipe for my son’s cake. Still, I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice. Once I had the technique down, and remembered Chef’s strict warnings to never let the ice cream melt too much before mixing in the instant pudding that gave it creaminess and solidity, I just went to town on them. One I made for my nephew’s first birthday, the little boy who has been a man for several years now, which makes me feel as old as King Tut, had layers of Reese’s Pieces and crushed Heath Bars throughout it with an Oreo crust. Another I made for my cousin who has worked at the Disney parks for decades. His was in the shape of Mickey Mouse and made to look like the Mickey Mouse ice cream bars on a stick I remembered buying from the ice cream man in his refrigerated truck when I was a kid– chocolate ice cream cake ears and a vanilla banana round face.
I usually decorate the edges with piped whipped cream, but for my son’s I whipped up a quick buttercream frosting. I didn’t think my first attempt at writing on his cake looked neat enough.
But the nice thing about an ice cream cake is that frosting will lift right off under the tip of a knife so you can try again. The second time was acceptable and left me room for his name.
The tricky thing about an ice cream cake is getting it cut and served before the lit candles and room temperature melt it. I still have no idea how my sister and I served my nephew’s around the pool at her apartment complex on the north shore of Oahu. I do recall transporting it in a cooler full of ice after I pulled it out of my freezer on the southern half of the island. And I remember, because I totally botched my son’s when I forgot that all portions of the cakes must be made in springform pans, that my nephew’s was in the shape of a giant ice cream cone. One vanilla banana cake in a round sprinform pan, another chocolate cake in another springform pan, cut into the shape of a cone. By using the edge of a springform pan, I was able to cut the top of the ice cream cone portion to perfectly fit the round cake that would make the ice cream “scoop”. I made my son’s chocolate portion, the one that was to be the “cone” in a rectangular pan, forgetting that I would have no way to get it out once it was frozen solid. So he had two whole cakes!
The boys loved the ice cream cake, and my husband thought that once again he’d died and gone to heaven with that first bite after years and years of his terrible wife denying him one of his all-time favorite treats. Whoops! Note to self: ice cream cake makes a happy husband.
Here is my warped and lacking version of Chef Eddie Fernandez’s Vanbanna. I’ll share my chocolate ice cream cake recipe in another post.
I tube of Ritz crackers
1/2 c. melted butter
Banana Cream Pie Filling:
7 cups soft, not melted, vanilla ice cream
1 (3.4 oz.) package of banana cream pie instant pudding (Chef Eddie may have used 2, now that I think about it.)
1 c. whole milk
1/4 c. butter
2 c. confectioner’s sugar
Pinch of salt
2 T whole milk
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1/4 c. butter
2 c. confectioner’s sugar
Pinch of salt
4 T whole milk
1/4 c. dark cocoa
To make the crust, place the package of Ritz crackers in a gallon zip baggie and crush them to coarse crumbs using a rolling pin.
Stir in the melted butter.
Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8″ spring form pan. Chill.
Scoop the ice cream into a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Whip just enough to cream it.
Sprinkle in the pudding mix and combine. Don’t stir it so much that the ice cream melts.
Stir in the milk just until combined.
Pour into the pan with the crust in the bottom.
Smooth the top.
Immediately place it in the freezer until it’s frozen solid, several hours or overnight.
Whip together the two batches of buttercream frosting by combing all of the ingredients and beating until smooth.
Fit one piping bag with a star tip. The other with a writing tip. I used chocolate for the writing, white for the decorations.
Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then pop open the springform pan latch.
Decorate as you would any cake, but work quickly so it won’t melt.
Yield: 8 to 16 servings