The banana split is a fun, crowd-pleasing dessert that isn’t just for children. The secret to a sophisticated, grown-up interpretation is to keep it relatively austere: if you use too many ingredients, such as the traditional strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice creams and their corresponding sauces, the flavours get muddled. Banana splits with butterscotch ice cream, sugar-and-spice pecans and dulce de leche Dulce de leche is a popular ingredient that was traditionally made by simmering cow’s milk with sugar and a small amount of baking soda for hours, or until it was caramelised. Another way to make it is by putting an unopened can of condensed milk in a pot, adding water so it’s completely submerged, then simmering it for an hour or longer, then cooling it; when you open the can, the milk is transformed into a thick, brown caramel. You don’t save much time with the second method, but you don’t have to stand over the pot stirring the ingredients, although you do have to make sure the can is submerged throughout the process. Nowadays, though, jars of dulce de leche can be found in supermarkets. The butterscotch ice-cream recipe is adapted from one in the book, The Perfect Scoop , by David Lebovitz. For the sugar-and-spice pecans, adjust the spice level according to your own taste. I like just a hint of chilli and black pepper, but you can make it spicier, if you like. It’s worth seeking out some of the smaller, more flavourful varieties of bananas, instead of using the type found at most supermarkets. Leftover ice cream will keep in the freezer for about two weeks. For the sugar-and-spice pecans: 250 grams (9 oz) pecan halves 10 grams (2 tsp) egg whites 25 grams (5 tsp) granulated sugar ½ tsp fine sea salt 1/8 tsp chilli powder, or to taste 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste For the ice cream: 70 grams (2 ½ oz) unsalted butter 90 grams (3 oz) light muscovado sugar 70 grams (2 ½ oz) dark muscovado sugar ¼ tsp fine sea salt 180ml (¾ cup) whole milk 500ml (2 cups) cream, divided 6 large egg yolks, at room temperature 1 tsp vanilla extract 30ml (2 tbsp) whisky or brandy To serve: 1 jar dulce de leche 6-8 ripe bananas, depending on size 200ml (¾ cup and 1 tbsp) cream, chilled 1 Make the sugar-and-spice pecans. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Whisk the egg white until frothy, then add it to the pecans and mix until they’re lightly but evenly coated. 2 Sprinkle the sugar, salt, chilli powder and black pepper over the pecans and mix thoroughly. Spread the nuts on an aluminium foil-lined baking tray and bake at 180 degrees (350 degrees) for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pecans are ready when they’re dry and lightly toasted. 3 Cool the pecans, then divide them into two portions. Chop half of them (these are for the ice cream); the remainder is for sprinkling over the banana splits. 4 Make the ice cream. Put the butter into a medium-sized saucepan and heat until melted. Stir in the sugars and salt. 5 Add the milk and 300ml (1 ¼ cup) of cream. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugars dissolve and the mixture comes to a simmer. Turn off the flame. 6 Set a fine-meshed sieve over a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Pour a ladleful of the milk/cream/sugar into the yolks and whisk immediately. Add more of the milk/cream/sugar in two additions, whisking immediately after each one. Pour the mixture from the bowl into the saucepan and place over a low flame. 7 Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture constantly in a back-and-forth motion, making sure to scrape the entire bottom of the pan so the liquid doesn’t stick. It’s thick enough when it coats the back the wooden spoon and leaves track marks when you draw your finger across it. 8 Immediately pour the mixture through the sieve into the bowl, then whisk in the remaining cream. Leave at room temperature and whisk occasionally until cool, then stir in the vanilla extract and whisky or brandy. Refrigerate until cold. 9 Process the mixture in an ice-cream machine. When the ice cream is thick, stir in the chopped sugar-and-spice pecans, then pack the mixture into an airtight container. Freeze for several hours. 10 To make the banana splits, whisk 200ml (¾ cup and 1 tbsp) of cream until it forms soft peaks. 11 Peel the bananas, cut them in half lengthwise and put them in individual serving dishes. Add scoops of the ice cream and drizzle liberally with dulce de leche. 12 Spoon some of the whipped cream over the ingredients, then scatter the sugar-and-spice pecan halves on top. Serve immediately. Like what you read? Look for more food and drink in SCMP Post Magazine .