This no-churn, 2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream is incredibly easy to make, so just go ahead and make a double batch!
533 steps. That might not sound like a lot, but it is. Especially when those steps take you up a very narrow, winding stairwell to the top of the Cologne Cathedral. Last summer, Laura and I visited Cologne, Germany as part of our Amsterdam-Basel Viking River Cruise. In addition to my love of Roman history, I am particularly interested in medieval history as well. Although not completed until 1880, the cathedral in Cologne was actual started in 1248. Yes, it took over 600 years for the cathedral to be built! (To be fair, there was a solid 400 year break for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the enormous construction cost.)
Laura had actually visited the Cologne Cathedral on a work trip to Germany a year earlier, but she was excited for me to see it. She knows my love for medieval history, and she knew I would lose my mind at the size of the cathedral. As we were making our way into the city center, I kept my eyes peeled for any glimpse of the church. At one point, I thought I saw it, and I asked Laura if that was the Cologne Cathedral. Her response was nope, and you’ll know it when you see it. Sure enough, we came around a street corner and the twin spires of the Cologne Cathedral soared above us. (The cathedral was the tallest building in the world until it was outpaced by the Washington Monument in 1884.)
How such a huge (and when I say huge, I mean huge!) building could be constructed during the Middle Ages is absolutely stunning to me. Even today, the Cologne Cathedral ranks as the largest Gothic church in northern Europe. And I climbed to the very top of it.
Laura had attempted the climb the year before, so she stayed down below with my mom while I happily set off climbing the wide stone staircase. About 50 steps in, though, that staircase turned into a narrow, twisting, steep corridor. At first, I was totally fine with this, and I was trudging up those stairs at a nice clip. But as I caught glimpses through the narrow windows on the outside of the staircase, I started realizing how high I actually was…and I started to get more than a little weak in the knees. I never thought I was that afraid of heights, but the Cologne Cathedral challenged me!
I did make it to the top, although there was definitely a point near the end when I was hanging on to the rail of the stairs with two hands while I willed my feet to take one step at a time. The staircase was perfectly secure, but it was enclosed only by bars at that point…and the ability to see through the bars to the ground far, far (far) below was a more than a bit unnerving. The reward was worth it, though! From the top of the cathedral, a stunning view across Cologne and the entire Rhine river valley is the prize awaiting those who make it to the top. If you get the chance to climb to the top of the Cologne Cathedral, do it! I’m not going to lie. The climb was challenging both physically and mentally…although I think it was more mentally challenging than anything. But it’s worth it!
But let’s turn our attention back to food. After all, this is a food blog! Cologne is home to a vibrant food scene with dozens of brauhauses serving up traditional German food and beer. Laura and I met back up with my mother, sister and brother-in-law and we grabbed lunch at a busy brauhaus on the edge of a bustling square. (Our philosophy when traveling is to get away from the touristy areas and then look for a busy restaurant. More often than not, this leads us to some delicious local food!) We enjoyed classic German dishes like sauerbraten, schnitzel, and spaetzle (we ordered communal plates and then shared), and we also had a couple Kölsch-style beers.
Kölsch is a style of beer first brewed in Köln (the German spelling of Cologne). This beer is very light in both color and body, and it pairs well with German food which is typically quite heavy. Fun tip: In Cologne, waiters constantly circle the tables with trays of small (~7-8 oz.) glasses of Kölsch. If your glass is empty, they will put another beer in front of you. Without asking. The way to signal that you’re done is to put a coaster on top of your empty glass. I was planning on only drinking one beer, but that second one just magically appeared in front of me as soon as I finished the first. (It’s also customary to order a Kölsch for your waiter.) So if you ever find yourself in Cologne, make sure to drink a Kölsch…but make sure you keep that coaster nearby, too!
So what does this 2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream have to do with Cologne? Well, nothing. But this 2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream does have a lot to do with our Viking ship! The food on board the ship was incredible. I’m talking amazing cheeses, breads and all sorts of entree options, both local and traditional. Every night, the dessert menu included some sort of ice cream. (This was in addition to the warm cookies that were available right outside of our room all day long.) Laura loves ice cream, so she opted for ice cream nearly every night.
However, one night, there was no ice cream. (There were other amazing desserts…just no ice cream.) We had been sitting at the same table for our entire trip, and we had gotten to know our waitstaff quite well. Laura pulled Claire over to the side and asked if the chef happened to have any banana ice cream left from the night before. Claire disappeared into the kitchen and came back shortly with a huge bowl of banana ice cream. I was already impressed with the service aboard our Viking Longship Lofn, but this stands out as one of the more memorable examples.
While I didn’t think to ask Chef Oliver for his banana ice cream recipe (he probably would’ve shared it!), I did come back and recreate this 2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream. Laura loves banana-flavored desserts, and I had told her that the bananas on the counter were off limits as I was making a dessert. She came home from work and immediately started searching the house. She had seen the condensed milk, so she thought I had a no bake banana cream pie up my sleeve. Nope, not this time. She failed to notice the simple container tucked into the corner of the freezer. After I let her search a bit, I finally pointed it out. (I’m not that mean!) Needless to say, we both enjoyed this 2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream for dessert that night while we reminisced about our river cruise down the Rhine.
I highly, highly recommend this 2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream! It’s super easy to make, and it’s incredibly creamy. Truthfully, you can make this ice cream without the condensed milk, but I find the milk really adds a nice touch to the texture of the finished ice cream. No churn. 2 ingredients. How can you go wrong there? Grab a spoon and dig in!
Have you ever been on a river cruise? We’re thinking about booking another one next year, and I’d love to hear your recommendations!
This post was inspired by our Viking River Cruise down the Rhine River. Click below for other posts inspired by this trip!
Days 1+2: Amsterdam, The Netherlands (Ontbijtkoek)
Day 3: Cologne, Germany (2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream)
Day 4: Middle Rhine, Germany (Rüdesheim coffee)
Day 5: Heidelberg, Germany (Flammkuchen)
Day 6: Strasbourg, France (Pain d’Epices)
Day 7: Black Forest, Germany (Black Forest Cake)