Have I mentioned how much I…ahem, I mean, my toddler, loves Daniel Tiger? As I described in my Rainbow Heart Pizza recipe, we particularly love that the show so often works in opportunities for Daniel to try new foods, cook with his family and participate in family meals.
We especially enjoy the episode “Daniel Tries a New Food,” in which Daniel has his bestie Miss Elaina over for dinner and they try Veggie Spaghetti and Banana Swirl. I am pretty sure the producers selected these foods because they are fairly non-threatening to most toddlers. Who doesn’t like spaghetti and bananas?
We recently had company over ourselves so we decided to imitate art and whip up some Banana Swirl of our own. Here’s the thing about making Banana Swirl, though. Although the dish looks simple to make, it is actually pretty easy to screw up! And that can turn out to be a major #fail when you’ve got an enthusiastic toddler who’s really excited to make it with you and dig in.
It made for a pretty picture, but this version was a melty mess!
In the episode, Mom Tiger makes the dish in a blender, so I figured my high-speed Blendtec would be right for the job. Not so! We ended up adding milk to get everything to blend, which took longer than I thought and resulted in a bit of a melty mess. Still tasty, but not really “we have company over” quality, in my opinion.
So I froze even more bananas, did a little online research and determined the following Very Best Practices for making Banana Swirl (a.k.a. how to not disappoint your toddler…)
Use a food processor. Pfft to you, Mom Tiger! I like you in every other respect, but this equipment choice was a major contributor to our dessert fail. There’s something about a food processor that really helps the bananas blend together, aerate and get creamy.
Use semi-frozen bananas. They should be almost frozen, but not rock hard. If they bend to a little pressure from your finger, you’re good. Try 30 seconds in the microwave if you think you’ve let your bananas freeze for too long.
Use very ripe bananas. ‘Nuf said! Riper bananas are sweeter. I keep a lidded container in my freezer for any bananas that look like they’re not going to make it much longer, then draw on them for Banana Swirl, smoothies and my Banana Oat Blender Muffins.
After blending, return the mixture to the freezer. Mom Tiger got it right here, at least. After blending, dish out individual servings and freeze them for about an hour. This helps the mixture firm up and have more of an ice cream-like texture.
My 9-month-old was sitting happily at the counter while I experimented with the food processor method, but once she saw me give the banana mixture a taste and realized there was something edible in there, she wanted in on the sweet deal! Because we’re doing Baby Led Weaning, she was of the mentality that she could spoon-feed the dish to herself. It sorta worked (read: not really…)
And of course the MIX INS and the TOPPINGS! The sky is the limit here. We topped ours with crunchy star sprinkles and mini chocolate chips. The first time we made it we mixed in chocolate peanut butter powder. Other possibilities include:
» Peanut butter
» Cocoa powder
» Coconut flakes
» Additional fruit such as strawberries, mangoes or pineapple (freeze before using)
» Chocolate chips
» Peanut butter chips
» Coconut flakes
» Chopped nuts
» Chopped fruit
» Bourbon (adults only of course! See my husband’s version in the Instagram post above)
Have you tried making Banana Swirl? Let me know how it went!
No-Fail Banana Swirl
- 4 ripe bananas frozen and broken into chunks*
- Mix-ins as desired
- Toppings as desired
Make sure the bananas are not frozen solid. They should break somewhat easily between your fingers. Put them in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time to achieve the right texture.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend the banana chunks. The texture will first be very crumbly. Pause to scrape down the bowl and continue blending until the mixture starts to look creamy.
Add any mix-ins or flavorings you are using and continue to blend until everything is incorporated.
Scoop the mixture into individual dishes and return to the freezer for about 1 hour.
Top as desired and enjoy!
*You can definitely use more than four, but four is a good starting point.