It just goes to show that good things always find an audience. In 1904 a pharmacist in Latrobe, Pa., who loved to create her own inventive fountain dessert combinations, came up with the banana split (an ice cream dessert with a banana cut lengthwise).
Word spread through students at the local college, and before long this ice cream classic caught on at soda fountains across the country.
What makes this dessert so famous? A long boat-shaped bowl filled with big scoops of different ice cream flavors and flanked by banana halves is a showstopper for sure. And to gild the lily, pineapple, strawberry and chocolate toppings glisten atop the ice cream rounds.
If that's not enough, the original recipe calls for drifts of whipped cream, crushed nuts and maraschino cherries as a final garnish. It's definitely meant for a celebration.
The recipe here, a creative adaptation of the original banana split, caught my eye for its sheer simplicity. The bananas are grilled with the skin on, which adds a deep rich banana flavor and also a bit of sweet caramelization.
A sleeker version than the original, this one also calls for vanilla ice cream, fresh summer berries and your favorite chocolate sauce. Put a sparkler in each one of these sundaes and celebrate the holiday in sweet bliss.
For a standout sundae:
• Make sure that the grill is clean so that other flavors won't interfere.
• Use the best quality fine vanilla ice cream you can find.
• For a rich fruit flavor, let the berries come to room temperature before serving.
• This can be easily double or tripled.
Grilled banana split
4 ripe yet firm bananas, halved lengthwise with the skin on
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Favorite store-bought chocolate sauce
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
Whipped cream and toasted sliced almonds, for garnish
1. Prepare a very hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high (450 F to 500 F).
2. Place the bananas, cut side down, directly over the hot fire and grill for about 2 to 3 minutes on the cut side only, until there are some grill marks.
3. Peel the bananas and cut in half again, and arrange in 4 shallow or sundae bowls. Put a scoop of ice cream in the center of each dish of bananas. Spoon the warm sauce over the top, garnish with berries, whipped cream and almonds, and serve.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.
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