I’ve always been more of a cake gal than a pie gal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fruit pie—piping hot with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. But when it comes to pies, my heart’s always beaten just a little bit faster over cream pies. Chocolate cream, coconut cream and especially banana cream. It’s funny and surprising how much I adore banana cream pie and banana pudding (and basically any other kind of banana dessert), yet I detest bananas by themselves. I’ve finally just come around to tolerating them in fruit smoothies (even enjoying them frozen and combined with peanut butter, honey, almond milk, ground flax and oats). But when someone eats a banana in front of me and that scent makes its way over, I scrunch up my nose. It’s strange, I know. I’m pretty much just like Ron Swanson, when eating bananas are concerned…
I like switching up the crusts when making banana cream pie. Sometimes I go for a toasted walnut-shortbread crust but sometimes I just want chocolate. This press-in crust (made in a food processor) is as simple as they get. Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, a little brown sugar, melted butter and salt, done.
For the custard, it’s got to be rich (with good eggs and whole milk or half and half/heavy cream) and flecked with vanilla bean. Slice up three bananas so you can be sure to get banana in each bite, layer the bananas and custard and whip up some cream for topping and it’s a done deal. Definitely one of my favorite desserts. Any time I see banana pudding or banana cream pie on a menu, my eyes widen and my heart flutters. It’s the ultimate swoon. See for yourself.
Banana Cream Pie
Serves about 8-12
For the custard:
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 cups whole milk or alternatively 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup half and half or heavy cream)
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. corn starch
- 1/4 tsp salt
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk (and/or half and half/cream), vanilla bean seeds and pod and salt. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, egg yolks, corn starch and sugar in a large bowl, whisking together until smooth. As soon as the stove mixture has reached a boil, remove from heat. Gradually add half of the stove mixture to the egg mixture, whisking quickly, to temper. Add the rest and bring the pot back to the stove (on medium-medium high heat), whisking constantly until the mixture becomes thick and pudding-like. Remove from heat. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the butter (by Tbsp) and stir until melted and combined. Let the custard cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap (directly over the custard, so you don’t get pudding skin) and refrigerate for at least two hours; preferably four. You can put the bowl of custard in an ice bath to speed this process up if you’re in a hurry.
For the chocolate crust:
- 1 package of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (if you can’t find these, Oreos are fine but be sure to remove the icing. I’ll leave you to your own devices on the best method for doing that) ; )
- 1/2 stick (or 4 oz.) of melted, unsalted butter
- 1/8 cup of light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375. Combine the wafers in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the melted butter, salt and brown sugar and pulse to combine thoroughly. Press into a 10-inch pie or tart pan, making sure to go up the sides and keep an even layer of crust. Bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is set. Let cool completely.
- 3 ripe bananas (peeled and sliced to desired thickness—I prefer mine thin)
- 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp sugar (powdered or granulated is fine)
Once the crust is cooled, evenly place banana slices from 1 1/2 bananas on top of the crust. Then spread half of the custard mixture in an even layer. Repeat with the remaining banana slices (from 1 1/2 bananas) and top with the remainder of the custard.
Whip the heavy cream and sugar in a chilled bowl of a stand or hand-held mixer until stiff peaks form.
Top the pie with whipped cream however you’d like. (You can use more whipped cream but it will be harder to see what kind of pie it is, like I failed to do in the picture)! Garnish with dark chocolate shavings or curls or a light dusting of cocoa powder. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
*Note: If you know it’s going to be several hours or a day before you’re going to serve the pie, hold off on making the whipped cream until the last minute. Otherwise it will lose it’s body and become flat and melty. Plus, fresh whipped cream always tastes better!