If you’re looking for a poetic story behind chef Tony Maws’s incredible banana split at The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, you won’t get one. Maws, the chef and owner of Cambridge’s award-winning Craigie on Main, simply added the classic frozen dessert to the menu shortly after opening the Tap & Trotter in Somerville about a year ago.
Which is not to say the sundae was an afterthought.
“We certainly didn’t invent the banana split, but we loved the idea of the banana split,’’ Maws told Boston.com.
In the version currently offered, that idea morphs into ancho-chocolate and banana cinnamon ice cream, bourbon-caramel-infused bananas, milk jam caramel, and spiced candied peanuts, topped with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. It’s sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, spicy, fruity—and yet still recognizably a banana split.
The ice cream flavors change from time to time, but that’s okay according to Maws, who says there are no rules except the ones he makes—like never cooking bananas.
In order to keep the base for his split from getting “funky’’ (which is what Maws says happens if you cook them), he uses a modernist cooking technique called cryo bathing to infuse the bananas with the bourbon-caramel sauce without damaing the fruit’s delicate texture.
First, he splits the bananas down the middle, then puts them in a vacuum-sealable plastic bag with the delectable (but not too sweet) sauce. Then he seals the bag and sucks out the air before freezing it.
In the summer months, you might find a cherry on top of your sundae, but now’s not the season and, as Maws put it, he’s “not going to buy store-bought Maraschino cherries because they’re disgusting.’’
The dish can easily be split by a couple of people (hello, date night!), but if you’re an ice cream fan, make sure the other person eats a hefty dinner—you won’t want to share.