Most of you veterans already know that you can have a banana split using sugar-free ice cream, sugar-free bottled chocolate syrup or hot fudge sauce, topping it with sugar-free whipped topping.
But have you tried it with a locally produced sorbet - the frozen confection usually associated with gourmet meals as a palate cleanser between courses? And with a homemade chocolate sauce?
Phillip Bricker and Chris Ballard joined forces to open The Wooden Spoon Appalachian Creamery on Charleston's West Side. It's there they perfect their sorbets and ice cream flavors from farm-fresh, West Virginia grown ingredients.
The newly established (five months) business is gaining ground and culinary attention. The Wooden Spoon won the 2007 West Virginia Recipe Challenge at the State Fair. That grand-prize package of goods and services helped them get up and running.
It wasn't long until they tasted victory once more when their champagne and strawberry sorbet was the people's choice winner as best dessert at this year's Taste of Charleston.
Bricker has been a Type I diabetic for the past eight years. He manages it with a daily tablet and diet. Toward that end, he said he doesn't eat desserts, but has developed a sugar-free berry sorbet, along with his regular sorbets and ice cream.
Bricker revealed he recently switched from Splenda to stevia as his sweetener. "My product, which is 70 percent fruit, was selling well, but people tended to turn away from it when they heard Splenda."
There isn't space today for all that could be written about stevia, but it is a naturally growing herb that is sweeter than sugar, native to Paraguay. Bricker says it has been used in Asia and South America for ages as an artificial sweetener and deemed safe for use here. He found it in the Healthy Life Market at Drug Emporium.
I was curious how his sugar-free sorbet would be as the star ingredient (with the banana playing second banana) in a split.
On a recent afternoon, I reworked a chocolate sauce recipe for poached pears for the fudge topping, purchased a can of light ReddiWip after reading the label (no hydrogenated oils as found in Cool Whip), toasted some sliced almonds, grabbed a bunch of bananas and headed for the Wooden Spoon and a visit with Bricker and his sorbet.
Daughter Lisa Dixon and year-old granddaughter Tori went along as backup taste testers.
Bricker and I put our heads together and spooned up our version of a healthier banana split. He did say it was the first time he had ever tried chocolate with his sorbet.
The original chocolate sauce recipe called for sugar even though it was in a diabetic cookbook. I cut the amount. I'm continually amazed at the degree of sugar called for in diabetic recipes - it can most always be reduced by half and still work.
Bricker suggested an optional small sprinkling of banana chips on top of the split with the toasted nuts for interesting flavor and texture.
The Wooden Spoon sorbets may be enjoyed from the menu at the Bluegrass Kitchen, Bridge Road Market Café and the State Capitol café. Eight-ounce containers are available for retail purchase at the State Capitol café, the only location serving sugar-free.
The Wooden Spoon, 1007 Bigley Avenue (old Purity Maid bakery building). Phone 205-4290 for sales from small individual orders to large wholesale and retail lots and catering information.