One would think that national holidays are reserved for commemorating momentous events. However, in our foodie culture even s’mores and banana splits are feted with a national holiday — they share the limelight on Aug. 10.If we are to go ape over the banana split, let’s at least do it in style. I propose creating an adult version with an assortment of liqueurs. For the kids, a combination of their favorite toppings works.
The person laying a solid claim to creating the original, iconic banana split was a 23-year-old pharmacy apprentice and soda jerk named David Evans Strickler, who made tricked-out sundae combinations at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to impress the college coeds. Strickler’s banana split, a three scoop (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) extravaganza flanked by a whole banana sliced lengthwise, smothered in chocolate and strawberry sauces, blanketed in whipped cream, sprinkled with chopped nuts, and topped with a maraschino cherry, cost a whopping 10 cents in 1904; twice the price of a regular sundae.
Despite the cost, it swelled in popularity among the student body at Saint Vincent College, then by word-of-mouth to ice cream lovers across the land. (It even became the signature dish of Walgreens pharmacy in the Chicago area). Strickler, the intrepid entrepreneur, also needed a vessel to impressively display his edible Picasso, so he elicited a glassmaker to create the classic “banana boat” that is still used today for serving banana splits.
Inspired Top Bananas
• Going Bananas: Try this bananaphile’s bliss with banana ice cream and sliced bananas topped with banana caramel syrup, banana chips and banana flavored whipped cream.
• Elvis Pelvis Split: Rock ‘n’ roll with a combo of bananas and peanut butter ice cream smothered in a warm peanut sauce.
• The Aloha Spirit: This tropical twist envelopes vanilla bean ice cream with pineapple syrup, toasted coconut shavings and chunks of salted macadamia nuts.
•Tropical Treat: Caribbean-style split swaps out the banana for fried plantains (a starchy, low sugar member of the banana family that is usually pan fried). Add some scoops of coconut ice cream and top with mango, papaya or lime syrups or purees and a dollop of whipped coconut cream.
• Ciao Down: Make an Italian split with assorted gelato scoops, a drizzle of warm, melted Nutella sauce, and sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts.
• X-Rated Banana: This drunken split will give you a pleasant buzz when you drizzle the espresso ice cream (or any other high octane flavor) with an assortment of liqueurs including banana schnapps or Crème de bananes, Kahlua coffee liqueur or Godiva chocolate liqueur.
• Guilt-free Split: Make it a healthier one with organic bananas, frozen yoghurt or non-dairy treats like iced almond or rice milk or sorbet, fresh fruit toppings (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sliced nectarines), toasted pecans, almonds or walnuts and a frugal dollop of organic whipped cream (if you must).
Boons of Banana Splits
If the banana split is created with mindful common sense, including calorie, cholesterol and sugar consciousness, it will have some nutritional health benefits, such as, a load of the essential mineral potassium to maintain the salt and water balance in the body, calcium for bone health, immune boosting Vitamins B-6 and C, Vitamin A to dial up eye health, and dietary fiber.
The world’s most behemoth banana split was painstakingly created in May 2013 in Selinsgrove, Pa., as a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It stretched five miles long and was comprised of 5,000 gallons of ice cream, 26,400 bananas and the same number of maraschino cherries, 500 gallons of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, 1,000 gallons of strawberries and crushed pineapple, 15,000 ounces of whipped cream and 700 pounds of crushed peanuts. Tums anyone?
Lickety-Split Banana Caramel Pecan Syrup
Here’s a caramelized banana syrup to drizzle on waffles, French toast or pancakes, as well as on a banana split.
2 large ripe but firm bananas (sliced in 1/4-inch rounds)
1/4 cup of sweet butter
1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of toasted chopped pecans
1/4 cup of water
Method: In a small skillet or saucepan combine the butter, sugar and water, and heat on medium until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to a syrup. Add the bananas, extracts and nuts. Remove from heat and serve warm.
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