Raw Salted Caramel Banana Pecan Ice Cream

Yes it may be the middle of winter, and pretty cold outside, but that does not stop me from making and eating ice cream.  I love ice cream, and I have to have a stash in my freezer at all times.  The best part is experimenting with new and different flavors.  I sometimes draw inspiration from flavors I see in stores or hear about, but often times I simply use what I have at home.  Like bananas.  I had a ton of bananas on my counter last week.  I know, so what else is new right?  Many of us seem to have that these days.  I guess it is not unusual anymore to someone who works out a lot, eats a high raw or vegan diet and makes lots of smoothies.  But then my Dad who was over visiting me, and he was like "Whoa...you planning on making enough loaves of banana bread for a crowd?" I told him it was my stash that I always had.  Anyways, so I had a larger amount than usual and I thought a banana flavored ice cream was in order.

Since bananas and caramel are a match made in heaven, I made a salted caramel banana pecan.  Simply heavenly combination.  I made a raw salted caramel AND flavored the banana ice cream with salted caramel ingredients like dates, lucuma and maple.  The pecans added a special nutty quality to the ice cream, and little crunchy bits in contrast to the smooth ice cream.  This flavor combo was so good, ice cream companies should take note.  If you are not afraid of ice cream in the winter, trust me you need to make this!

Raw Salted Caramel Banana Pecan Ice Cream
Makes about 6 cups

Raw Caramel Swirl:
1 cup medjool dates, pitted (soaked in filtered water for 30 minutes if not soft, then drained)
2 Tbsp raw pecan butter
3 Tbsp raw coconut nectar, or maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp filtered water

Ice Cream:
1 cup coconut water
3 cups young coconut meat*
2 cups ripe bananas, sliced
1/4 cup lucuma powder (optional)
1/2 cup raw date paste (or maple syrup)
seeds of one vanilla bean (or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract)
1 Tbsp maple extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut butter, warmed to liquid

1 cup chopped raw pecans

To make ice cream base, to a high speed blender or food processor, add coconut water, coconut, bananas, paste, lucuma, vanilla, maple extract, sea salt, and process until very smooth, about a minute or two. Add the coconut butter slowly so it gets incorporated and doesn't clump up.  Process a minute more.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to directions.
Set aside.  When the ice cream is done churning, remove from ice cream maker, stir in pecan pieces, then pour 1/3 into a freezer safe container with a lid. drizzle 1/3 of the caramel over it, then pour half the remaining ice cream over that.  Drizzle with half the remaining caramel, then top with the remaining ice cream then the remaining caramel.  Place in the freezer and let sit for at least four hours or overnight to firm up to scoopable consistency.

*you may substitute 3 cups raw cashews soaked 4 hours and drained well for the young coconut meat if it is unavailable, or use 3 cups canned full fat coconut milk (if you are ok with it not being completely raw).

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