Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Birthday, Another Dessert

Thank goodness my coworkers' birthdays are spaced out! Today we celebrated the only September birthday. This particular person loves anything banana and had originally requested a banana pie that had been in Southern Living a year or so ago. The problems were a) he had already had this pie before and therefore could judge my pie based on his previous experience (no good) and b) that one was too easy. I have to at least put some elbow grease into these things to make it look like I slaved in the kitchen for hours! So when I found this recipe from bon appetit, it sounded like a winner. The reviews were mostly positive and even those that weren't had easy remedies. I followed the recipe pretty much as is, my additions and subtractions will be italicized.

Banana Cream Pie

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (depending on your pie plate, you could reduce to 2 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1 cup whole and 1/2 cup 1%)
3 large egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I only used 2 large bananas.)

Bourbon caramel glaze:

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 T. bourbon or rum

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and mashed banana in large bowl to blend. Add unsalted butter and stir to moisten evenly. Press onto bottom and up sides of 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake crust until set and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.

For filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Discard vanilla bean. Transfer custard to large bowl; cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour.

For caramel:
Combine all ingredients except alcohol in small saucepan. Stir all ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce to a simmer and stir until desired consistency. Remove from heat and add alcohol (if desired). While caramel is still warm, spread 1/2 over warm crust. Let cool completely.

Stir custard to loosen, if necessary. Spread 1 cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with sliced bananas. Spread the remaining 1/2 caramel over bananas, then 1 cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard. Chill banana cream pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Cut pie into wedges and serve.

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