I’m feeling a little cramped in the city these days. Like most Vancouverites, we live in a one bedroom apartment. Although it technically has doors on two of the rooms, it’s basically a 630 ft2 multifunctional rectangle. The living room/office/dining room/kitchen/workout room/dance floor has become a cozy space that we love to spend time in. However, I think we are both relieved that it’s now patio season which we means that we have an additional 7 x7 ft area to spread out; by Vancouver standards, this is basically a second bedroom. Turns out, everyone else in our building has also figured this out and is taking full advantage of their outdoor spaces. It seems like everyone and their dog is out basking in the sun after work.
With spring in full swing, people are having more friends over to enjoy good eats and local beers. I’d like to say that this story is about a great BBQ that we had with friends, featuring juicy burgers and seasonal produce. However, it’s really about our neighbour’s gathering that we accidently-on-purpose eavesdropped on. We actually share a patio with our next door neighbour, separated only by a tall frosted glass barrier. We rarely SEE our neighbours but we certainly HEAR their loud 8-year-old boy. I can’t tell you much about him except for the well-known fact that he loves food. I know this because I can hear him on most nights raving about his dinner. Now I should preface this story by saying that we don’t actually know our neighbours’ names, but I’ve nicknamed the boy “Ivan” – there has been absolutely no indication that his name actually is Ivan, but I will continue to use it until I’m told otherwise.
Anyways, while Tal and I were enjoying our dinner on the patio a few weeks ago, we overheard Ivan raving about the popsicle he was eating. When a neighbour below heard Ivan, she popped her head over the railing to get more details. At this point I stopped all dinner conversation with Tal, obviously more intrigued by the details of this mysterious popsicle than by Tal’s recount of his day’s events (although captivating, food always wins). Ivan’s mom leaned over her railing and whispered “It’s actually just a frozen banana, but he LOVES them!” WHAT? Seriously? Obviously my first thought was that this kid has VERY low standards for dessert. But then I thought, maybe Ivan was on to something here.
Well turns out, this dessert IS amazing! After some trial and error (errors that were still happily eaten by my tasting panel) I think I have come up with a few crowd-pleasers. These cool treats are a great replacement for commercial ice cream bars and popsicles, because they are made with real food and are just as satisfying. Even better, they take less than ten minutes to make! Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, and these Chocolate Covered Banana Pops are a perfect example of this.
Chocolate Covered Banana Pops
Prep time: 10 minutes Freezer time: 30 minutes Yields 8 popsicles
4 moderately ripe bananas, cut in half
6 oz (170 g) good quality dark chocolate
1 tbsp coconut oil OR any other mild-flavoured oil (ex. safflower, sunflower, canola, peanut)
8 popsicle sticks OR chopsticks
Toppings: peanuts, pistachios, coconut flakes, etc.
1. Melt chocolate and oil in a tall bowl or cup. If microwaving, heat for 1 minute and then stir.
2. Line a baking pan with waxed paper.
3. Insert popsicle sticks half way through the bananas. Take the bananas, one at a time, and dip them into the melted chocolate until they are coated.
4. If adding toppings, sprinkle on immediately.
5. Place dipped bananas on the baking pan and then freeze them for at least 30 minutes.
6. To store, wrap the popsicles individually with wax paper and store in a container in the freezer.
Note: Allow pops to thaw for ten minutes before serving.