Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Banoffee Pie

"Banoffee pie?"  Juliet asked Mark, standing at his door with adorably messy hair tucked under a cap (not that Keira Knightley could ever look anything but adorable), unaware that she was moments away from learning of his secret-but-completely-inappropriate love for her.

One of my favorite Valentine's movies, and Christmas movies, and good for all holidays and any occasion movie about love...  is Love Actually.

A few months ago, I read - against my better judgement - a scathingly mocking review of the movie, a review that pointed out every flaw, every weakness, every inconsistency, every unrealistic element.

I was annoyed.  After all, we don't watch movies like that because they're realistic, am I right?  We watch them because they tug at our heart strings, make us feel good and give us hope that all things are possible in love.

Banoffee pie is an English dessert that's actually fairly new, having been developed just over 40 years ago in 1972 at a restaurant called The Hungry Monk in Sussex, and its name was coined from its filling of bananas, toffee and cream in a pie crust.

Traditionally, the toffee for the pie is made by boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk until the sweet milk turns into caramel or dulce de leche, but for my pie, I chose to use my own salted caramel sauce.  And while I'm not sure it's traditional, I also smothered the bananas in thick vanilla bean custard as well as caramel, with plenty of freshly whipped cream on top and a sprinkling of toffee bits.  It's one of the best cream pies I've ever made, and Jamie can't get enough of it.

And while my version may be more labor intensive than just boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk, slicing bananas and topping with whipped cream, I think the extra effort in cooking the salted caramel sauce and the creamy vanilla bean custard is well worth the end result, which is a pie that ends up tasting lighter, less sweet, and much more complex than its traditional ancestor.

I'll admit, I'm a little suspicious of recipes that are too simple, and I like adding more complexity, but not for the sake of being complex or difficult to make, but for the sake of creating the most delicious tasting dessert I can possibly imagine.

When I asked Jamie if he wanted to take the rest of the pie to work on Monday to share, he looked at me like I was crazy.

"This pie is mine," he said, through a mouthful of bananas, caramel and cream.

One Year Ago:   Yellow Roses and Cherry Chocolate Chip Muffins
Two Years AgoRoasted Banana Honey Nut Muffins

Banoffee Pie

All-Butter Pie Crust:
·         1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
·         ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
·         3 tablespoons ice water

Vanilla Bean Custard:
·         2 cups whole milk
·         Seeds of 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste)
·         ¼ cup granulated sugar
·         ¼ cup corn starch
·         4 egg yolks
·         3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

Bananas, Cream and Caramel:
·         1 cup Salted Caramel Sauce, room temperature
·         1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
·         1/3 cup powdered sugar
·         3 large bananas (or 4 small/medium)
·         1 tablespoon lemon juice
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·         2 tablespoons toffee bits

Baker’s Note: Make the crust and custard one day in advance so that both are cooled and ready to go when it’s time to assemble the pie.  Loosely cover the baked pie crust, once it’s cooled, and keep at room temperature; keep the custard chilling in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.  Also, while I made a butter pastry crust, a salted graham cracker crust would also be delicious.

Bake the Crust:
Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Sprinkle with the ice water, toss with a fork, then turn out onto a clean counter and pull the dough together with your hands until it sticks together enough to be rolled out.

Dust the counter and pastry lightly with flour and roll dough out to ¼ inch thick.  Transfer to a deep-dish pie pan and turn the edges under themselves, making them look pretty.  Freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and press greased side down and fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered until browned, another 10-15 minutes.  Cool completely.

Make the Custard:
In a saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean seeds or paste, sugar and cornstarch.  Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks to break them up.  When the milk mixture begins to bubble around the edges, slowly stream about a cup of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking them constantly to temper them.  Scrape the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan.

Whisking constantly, bring the custard to a boil over medium heat, then cook for 1-2 minutes until thickened.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth.  Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, right against the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Whip the cream with the vanilla and powdered sugar until medium/stiff peaks form.  Set in the refrigerator.

Slice the bananas and toss with the lemon juice (to prevent browning and for a touch of freshness), cinnamon and nutmeg.

Loosen the chilled custard with a spoon and spread half the custard into the pie, top with half the bananas and drizzle with half the caramel.  Repeat with the rest of the custard, bananas and caramel.  Top with piles of whipped cream and sprinkle with toffee bits.

Yields 8-10 servings

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen