Yes, you can grill dessert! Make a grilled banana split

Mmmm what a perfect summer treat! Nathan Lippy's grilled banana split with a brown sugar butter rum sauce.

One of the questions I’m most often asked is about what can be grilled for dessert. This quandary has stumped even the best of char masters. Here is my opinion: If you want a dainty little morsel with tuiles, edible flowers and perfectly tempered chocolate, go to a nice bakery. If you want a charred, savory-meets-sweet, caramelized creation of epic tastiness, get out the grill.

Grilling dessert can be a slippery slope. The success of your grilled sweetness will most likely depend on picking the right ingredients. Today, I’ll be explaining my take on a grilled banana split with a brown sugar butter rum sauce. One of my favorite sweets to grill is pound cake. It’s fairly dense while still light, and it holds up really well to the heat of the grill. The moist texture also adds weight and helps to achieve the beautiful grill marks that will make your dish absolutely gorgeous. 

Check out the cooking demo here 

My wife has a passionate love for bananas, but only if they are green… like, really green. I’ve tried my best to explain to her that the sweetness of a banana develops as it ripens, yet, she refuses to eat them if they are too “yellow” -- it’s an ongoing battle. Bananas are great on the grill if you remember one very important thing: high heat! Anytime you grill something that has a light protein strand or is delicate in texture, you must use high heat to cook it. If you cook bananas at a low heat you will end up with mushy baby food. A second tip on grilling bananas, to my wife’s pleasure, is to use a mildly green banana. They tend to be a bit more sturdy and hold up on the grill a bit better. To go with these tasty treats I like to add a maple rum sauce. It’s so simple you don’t need a recipe, but I’ll give you one anyway. Here it is: 

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 cup rum
  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • Add all three to a small sauce pot over medium high heat and reduce for 20 minutes (or until its thick like maple syrup.)

So simple, and trust me its wicked delicious! Save that sauce in your dessert arsenal as it has many uses. Grilling dessert isn’t impossible, it just takes a bit of preparation and thought. Instead of bananas, you can also try pineapple or peaches. If you wanted to get really crazy, you could put a small sauce pot on the cool part of the grill, add some chocolate chips and a touch of heavy cream, throw some wood chips on the grill and close the lid…boom bam smoked chocolate ganache! Now go get the grill out and have a party.

Grilled banana splits

Recipe by Nathan Lippy

Serves 4

Time: 20 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • Olive oil, for grill
  • 1 pound cake, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 medium bananas, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 pint chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup whipped cream

In a pot over medium heat melt together the butter and sugar and continue to cook until the sugar dissolves. Add the dark rum, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and becomes a syrup.

Preheat a grill pan over high heat. Brush the grill with olive oil. Grill the pound cake on both sides until lightly charred.

Place bananas, cut side down, on the grill and cook until caramelized. 

To assemble the banana split layer the pound cake, banana slices, and a scoop each of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Drizzle sauce over the top and garnish with whipped cream.

Chef Nathan Lippy is the host of "Grill This" and "Crash Course Culinary 101" on the HUNGRY Channel and www.NathanLippy.TV. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter