Friends, family, internet strangers, I’ve done it. I’ve made the most incredible thing. My raison d’etre. My coup de grace. My other french saying that I actually don’t have any idea what it means.
It’s a banana cream pie. WAIT. STOP. Stop that face you’re making. Clear your mind of preconceived notions of banana cream pie. DO IT. Because once I thought similarly. Banana cream pie?? I pictured fake-banana-flavored pudding. Too-sweet whipped cream. Store-bought crust. Banish those thoughts. What this pie is, is too good for this world. It’s better than all of us, this pie.
It’s the best thing. Superlatively everything.
Let me explain. Caramel. Chocolate Ganache. Vanilla Pastry Cream. Flaky Pie Crust. Fresh bananas. Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream Topped with Chocolate Shavings. That should clear things up.
If the way this pie turned out is a harbinger for 2010, then I am excited. So here’s to 2010. May it be the best year yet. Well, ok, listen, may it at least be better than 2009, which was a terribly banshee bitch of a year. So really, 2010, the expectations are low. Way low. But it would be nice to be pleasantly surprised here. Do. you. read. me?
Which brings us to resolutions. Since I read this article about how the human brain can’t handle too much forced willpower at once (surprise), I’m going to make this really easy on myself. I already exercise. In fact, I might exercise too much. So, in 2010, more travel. More vegetables. More adventure. More love. And more banjo. Let’s get started!
Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate and Caramel
(one) fully baked and cooled 10-inch flaky tart dough pie shell (use a 1/2 recipe of this one)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c heavy cream (very cold)
2 tbsp. sugar
1/3 c caramel (recipe below)
2 1/2 c pastry cream (recipe below)
2 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3 oz bittersweet chocolate bar for making curls
Have the pie shell ready for filling. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat.
Using a offset spatula, pastry brush, or the back of the spoon, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the bottom of the pie shell. Refrigerate for 10minutes to set the chocolate.
While the chocolate is setting, pour heavy cream into a mixing bowl and whip with a whisk or a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until thickened. Add the sugar and continue to whip until it holds medium-firm peaks.
Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator and drizzle the caramel evenly over the chocolate. Transfer the pastry cream to the shell. Arrange the banana slices evenly over the pastry cream, and then lightly press them into the cream.
Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the whipped cream on the top. Cover with chocolate curls and powdered sugar (optional).
Chill the pie until the pastry cream is set, at least 3 hours. Serve the pie cool. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
YIELD: about 1 1/2cups (you won’t use it all!)
2/3 c heavy cream
1/4 vanilla bean
1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp light corn syrup
3/4 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Place over medium-high heart and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add them to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.
YIELD: 2 1/2 cups (you WILL use it all!)
2 c whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c + 1 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Have a bowl ready for cooling the pastry cream with a fine-mesh sieve resting on the rim.
Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Add the salt, place over medium-high heat, and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally and making sure that the milk solids are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
When the milk is ready, slowly ladle about one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the hot milk and continue whisking over medium heat until about 2 minutes. I order for the cornstarch to cook ad thicken fully, the mixture must come just to the boiling point. You want to see a few slow bubbles. Remove from heat and immediately pour through the sieve into the bowl. Let cool for 10minutes, stirring occasionally to release the heat and prevent a skim from forming on top.
Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon pieces. When the pastry cream is ready (temp should be at 140F) whisk the butter into the pastry cream 1 tablespoon at a time, always whisking until smooth before adding the next tablespoon.
To cool the cream, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the top of the cream (the plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming on the surface). Chill.