Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream.
Okay, I said it. That was painful, but I said it.
Why is that so painful? Because people like me (that cook for a living and cultivate a higher-plane palate) should not admit to having such an addiction.
But I do, and I can’t help myself.
The very first time I tried it, I was in heaven. It took me back to the days of elementary school and banana fudge bomb pops. Yes, in the 70’s, ice cream was the thing to look forward to when you were in elementary school. Between that and rolling down the hill in an oversized tractor tire with 4 more of my friends. (okay, that’s a whole different story. Let’s get back on track…)
I’ll just say this…at the tender age of 1st through 3rd grade, I could promise you that there was no better dessert on the planet. Reasons: I am a dedicated chocoholic, and my favorite fruit is bananas. Give me both simultaneously and I am at your mercy, even to this day. A band of overly sweet banana ice cream capped and held up by bands of chocolate ice cream? What could possibly be better?
It all ended the one day I dashed inside the grocery store to discover, alas, they had been removed from the shelves. That day, I admit, I cried. Inside, of course, because no one (especially not a boy) wants to be laughed at because they have feelings for some ice cream.
Fast forward to summer of 1994…
I had just started working…An arduous job pitching bales of hay for a hardware store. In the middle of August. All day, every day of the week, I hung out atop a truck, tossing that hay onto the ground for stacking. Oh yeah, I had to stack it at the end of the day. Well, this particular day seemed extra blistering, so I felt like some ice cream. I trundled myself up the block to the neighborhood Food Lion and stood under the first air conditioner vent for 2 or 3 minutes, just glad to get out of the hot sun. I strolled towards the ice cream freezer and noticed the words “Chunky Monkey” on the very first pint that faced me.
“What the heck is Chunky Monkey?” I had no idea, but the hot sweating impulse buyer in me was surely about to find out. Looked on the cover and I didn’t get past banana ice cream. I mean, there were other ingredients, but I didn’t see them. I only had eyes for the one that triggered a deep-seated emotion. Yes, sir, this was going to be a sweet end of the day.
Walked home down the hottest city block in the world, placed the new wonderfulness in the freezer, and showered.
I emerged..popped the top…dug the spoon inside…and I found CHOCOLATE…and walnuts. All of a sudden I was mentally lounging on that tractor tire in the schoolyard with my friends…nibbling on a nice cold bomb pop. Except this bomb pop had a spoon with some extra goodies…
“We’ll never be separated again,” I whispered to the spoon as I enjoyed a finally cool wind that blew the whole day away…
FAST FORWARD TO MUCH LATER IN LIFE:
It’s fall, and college hoops is about to start, and my ice cream addiction had to give way to things like PB2, and multivitamins, and supplements, in my never-ending quest to become 19 again and play basketball forever.
But some chocolaty banana love affairs simply won’t go away.
Love got triggered when the girlfriend called to say she was coming to visit, and she wanted banana bread…FRESH.
No, I didn’t know how to make banana bread. Found out the hard way that I didn’t have all the elements required, as I frantically Googled recipes in case I had time to go to the store. Naturally, I didn’t have that time. Shoot. But what I DID have was a pint of Chunky Monkey, some PB2, and some self-rising flour. And a very vivid cook’s imagination…
I looked in the cabinet to see what else I could throw in there to simulate bread in a pinch. I found a half-bag of dark chocolate chips, and an almost-gone tin of walnuts. And lo and behold, I found a banana. Ladies and gents, I was in business.
Now, if you’re wondering how I knew this would work, I found an old recipe for ice cream bread online beforehand. But I had to scramble and take a risk and remix it, because I was coming down to crunch time. I gave the ice cream time to soften, tossed what I had in a bowl, stirred it into the oven…and awaited Judgment Day. I say that to say, my girlfriend had a higher-plane palate than mine, and she was tough on food. In fact, there are restaurants that to this day, I can’t bring myself to go inside because of flashbacks. Fortunately, she had to stop for gas en route, so that bought me about 15 minutes to allow me to take the bread out and allow it to cool.
Doorbell rang and my pretty executioner sashayed into the kitchen, floating past the living room and the dog. I chuckled inside as she met the cloud of smellgood coming off the ‘bread’…but that chuckle had nervous undertones.
Then the magic words…
“Oh. Em. Gee. Did you just buy this?”
“No, dear, you asked for banana bread, so I made you banana bread.”
“But this is fabulous. There’s no way you made this. Come on, where’s the box?”
“No box. Look in the trash can?”
Then the next magic words…
“I will never eat anyone else’s banana bread, ever. This is SO good.”
I don’t remember the rest of that conversation. But I DO remember the recipe…And I’m going to give it to you…if and unless you can’t just run down the street and grab some bomb pops…
(Just so you know – I don’t think she ever ate anyone else’s banana bread to this day.)
(makes 2 9X5-inch loaf pans of ‘bread’)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place all ingredients into large bowl and stir until gently incorporated.
- Grease and flour 2 9×5-inch loaf pans.
- Split the mixture between the two loaf pans.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, watching very carefully for the last 5 minutes to keep from burning
- Remove and let pans cool completely.
- Wrap one of the loaves in foil and freeze for future use.
- The other – cut into 6-8 slices and enjoy!