Banana Nut Fudge: our hyper-local flavor of the year!
"How do you come up with new flavors?," inquire many. To answer this common question, we sincerely say, "that depends!" Sometimes new flavors require time, arduous effort, and intense discussion, but at other times they literally and figuratively come straight to us. We didn't have to search far for our newest and most thrilling flavor, Banana Nut Fudge. Thanks to a few key pioneers, this decadent flavor was one that came directly to us!
Our relationship with Jon Meredith of Sweet Eats Fruit Farm began with a serendipitous meeting. Our co-owner and chef, Anthony, and Jon crossed paths two years ago at the Sustainable Food Center's 2015 Farm to Plate, where Jon asked Anthony which plant he would want grown in Texas to use in ice cream. Anthony swiftly responded, "bananas!," assuring Jon that it must be possible to grow them because he had seen a tree on his grandparents' neighbors' Gulf Coast property. That's right, folks, we're talking TEXAS-GROWN BANANAS, and Jon agreed to grow them! As you can imagine, Anthony was over-the-moon excited about the prospect because local bananas means local banana ice cream, a match made in... Texas!
Jon's first crop didn't survive the 2016 winter so he moved the plants to his greenhouse and continued to e-mail status updates over the course of the following year. "Snapped a picture of two of the banana trees in the greenhouse. They were only 6 inches tall when I planted them in February!," he wrote in July 2016. Progress!
Jon opted for Dwarf Cavendish bananas, a petit, quick-ripening, high-yield variety that could fit in his greenhouse. By October 2016, the trees were flowering; by January 2017, we were confident that the crop would succeed; and in April 2017, the beautiful fruits finally arrived at our North Austin kitchen!
Although the bananas are the most prominent part of the Banana Nut Fudge ice cream, the flavor also wouldn't be the same without the Nut Fudge. Lick's kitchen manager, Emily Nelson, caught wind of Texas-grown peanuts in late 2016 from another Austin-area food pioneer, Barton Springs Mill, who handed us yet another hard-to-find dream ingredient (Anthony's great grandpa was a career peanut farmer just south of San Antonio!). Once we got our crazy ice cream-making claws on the Tokio, Texas peanuts, it was a no-brainer to pair them with fudge sauce in our first ever banana ice cream, our most unique and hyper-local of flavors!
To be honest, the most difficult part of developing Banana Nut Fudge -- and many of our new flavors -- was deciding on its name. "Banana with Fudgey Nuts" and "Banana Fudge Nut" contended for the title (and won the most laughs) but were quickly eliminated. "Banana Nut Fudge" became the cherished name for such a special flavor to Anthony and all of us at Lick. This flavor is a true representation of our approach to ice cream making and our commitment to our local farmers: if we can't source an ingredient from these parts, then we either don't make it at all or we patiently wait until they come to us!
**Banana Nut Fudge made its debut at all of our Austin and San Antonio scoop shops on July 1, 2017. Due to the limited availability of the bananas, the availability of Banana Nut Fudge is also very limited. There are a mere few days before we run out, so get YOUR crazy ice cream-loving claws on it while it lasts!