Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Have you heard about Yonanas, the banana frozen treat maker? I first saw this machine when I was down at HSN. They have large studios and our Bon Appetit kitchen was close to the Yonanas set. There was a long row of the machines lined up on the counter and a different flavored frozen treat was coming out of each one....bananas and peanut butter, bananas and chocolate, bananas and berries and on and on. My mouth was watering. Watching the machine in action made it all the more intriguing. Very ripe frozen bananas were pressed into the top chute on the electric machine along with other choice ingredients. The very sharp blades within the machine spin around and process the ingredients into a creamy frozen dessert much like ice cream. You can see two lines of the sharp metal blades in the pic below. There are several lines of blades on an inner piece of the machine that spins. The ingredients go down the chute, hit the blades and a creamy dessert comes out right into your waiting bowl.

I went over to sample the sweets when the segment was done, but everyone on the set, from the camera operators to the food stylists had descended upon the table and I was out of luck. The desserts were gone!

Lucky for me, the Yonanas folks saw my disappointment and promised to send me a machine. I love bananas and eat them everyday and always go for the very ripe ones as a matter of course. With Yonanas you want to make sure to have bananas with black spots and absolutely no green whatsoever. I started hoarding ripe bananas just like the ones on the bottom of the photo so I would be ready when my machine arrived. (Peel them first, then simply freeze in a zippered top bag).
The day it arrived I was ready to go. I tend to jump ahead and like to see if machines are intuitive. This one is! In case you need help, the booklet is very easy to follow. I assembled the machine (which was really just putting a couple pieces together) and plugged it in. Being a chocolate fiend I decided to try a Banana Chocolate blend first. The recipe booklet gave me the proportions and I was good to go. I decided to go with a 55% Valrhona Equitoriale chocolate. Here is my creation....let me tell you, taking the picture before it melted meant I couldn't eat it right away, which was torture! Once I did get to dig in I experienced a creamy banana base with little crunchy bits of chocolate. Fabulous. But the chocolate does have a bit of sugar and fat and I wanted to see if I could make a Yonanas dessert that was 100% fruit.

I always have frozen berries on hand and I happened to have a bag of mixed berries including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. I disassembled the machine and gave it a quick wash, which was pleasantly easy to do. In went the bananas, then the berries and voila! Although it almost pains me to say it (I feel like I'm cheating on chocolate), I think I liked this one even better.
So now that I owned the machine, I began musing on how it could fit into my life. Ice cream is my favorite dessert and really the only reason I don't eat it all the time is because of the calories. Here was a way for me to have a creamy frozen dessert without the fat or any added sugar. There are recipes for "no-banana" Yonanas but the naturally dense texture of bananas help the mouth-feel of your frozen desserts really match that of real ice cream. (One very successful "no-banana" recipe was for Mango Sorbet).

I put the machine away, kind of sad that I didn't have it when my kids were still home as I know they would love it. It lay dormant for a few weeks and then it hit me, hey, I can make a lower calorie frozen treat - easily. Out of sight had been out of mind....I brought it out and the next day went to the local Asian market where I can always find ripe bananas and got them into the freezer pronto. I needed to wait overnight for them to freeze solid. The machine was taunting me. I would glance at it and in a very Pavlovian response, my mouth would begin to water. I felt very impatient.

So now I use it in fits and spurts. When I leave it out on the counter I definitely use it more frequently. Heading into the winter months, I am not sure how often I will take it for a spin...but hey, I just thought of something...banana and maple would be great together....on top of a waffle...maybe for Christmas morning?

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