Sometimes, I get an idea for a recipe in my head that I have to sit on for a really long time before I can finally commit to making it. This Banana Cream Pie was on such recipe. First, I really struggled with the topping- should it be meringue or whipped cream? The last one I had, in Central America, was meringue. An informal Twitter poll, though, showed that most people prefer whipped cream…and also pointed out that, as a cream pie, meringue was not at all called for.
After the topping was settled, I got really fixated on a peanut butter addition. Evan and I love peanut butter banana on sandwiches and in milkshakes, and it seemed like a perfect combination for this pie. My struggle was, where to put it- nutter butter crust? Maybe too sweet. A layer of peanut butter cream on top of regular crust? I was thinking that might be a little too heavy, or sticky. Finally, with some reservations, I decided to make a layer of peanut butter mousse, then add banana slices, banana pastry cream, and cover the entire thing with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
And…it was perfection. There are no pictures of the gorgeous layers because I took it to the fire station, where they demolished it. This pie was amazing, and completely surpassed all expectations. I cannot recommend it more highly. Even people who were skeptical of banana cream pie loved it.
– 1 pie crust
– 1 pint heavy whipping cream
– ½ tsp vanilla and 1 tsp vanilla
– ¼ cup powdered sugar and ½ cup powdered sugar
– ¼ cup peanut butter (any kind will be fine)
– 4 oz cream cheese (any level of fat)
– 2 bananas and 3 bananas, sliced
– 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp butter
– 2 cups milk or cream
– 2 tbsp corn starch
– 2 tbsp flour
– 4 egg yolks
Ok, I will admit- this recipe has many steps. But it also has a lot of layers, and is amazingly delicious. None of the steps are complicated, and I’ll walk you through them. It’s so worth it- I promise!
Make the crust: here’s a truth- I use Pillsbury frozen pie crusts. They’re delicious and easy and inexpensive. Especially for complex pies, I let someone else make the crust for me. So, either thaw your premade crust, or prepare a recipe for a single shell pie. Settle it into your pie plate, crimp the edges as you wish, and prick all over with a fork (pricking with a fork, all the way through to the pie plate, allows the steam to escape so that the crust doesn’t rise while it bakes…and is very important in blind baking). Bake at 400 for 12 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Make the whipped cream: so easy! First, you want to start with a cold bowl and cold ingredients. IF you’re using stand mixer, place the metal bowl in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before you start to whip the cream. If you’re using a hand mixer or, God bless you, a whisk, make sure that you use a glass or metal bowl…plastic bowls really won’t cut it for this. Once your bowl is very cold, add the pint of cream, the ½ tsp vanilla, and the ¼ cup powdered sugar. Whip until semi-stiff peaks form- that’s when, as you pull the whisk out of the cream, a peak will hold but have rounded tips. You really want to watch this step, because if you over whip you can actually separate the milk fat and create butter. Fortunately, there’s a pretty clear ‘grainy’ stage in between where you’re still okay, so just keep an eye out for that. It takes less than ten minutes to whip cream to perfection, so have patience!
Make the peanut butter mousse: Move the whipped cream into another bowl. In your now empty but not rinsed mixing bowl, beat 1 tsp vanilla with the cream cheese, peanut butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until fluffy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in about one cup of your whipped cream. Folding is easy- it’s just gently and slowly mixing, so that everything is incorporated without losing all the air you just whipped in. Once the mousse is all mixed, you can place it and the remaining whipped cream in the fridge until the pastry cream is ready.
Make the pastry cream: you might do this in two stages. First, melt 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan with 2 bananas, cut into quarters or eighths. Saute for a minute or two until soft. Add the cream or milk, and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute, then remove from the heat and let the bananas ‘steep’ in the milk for a half an hour or so. This might be when you take care of the whipped cream and mousse.
Part 2- strain the bananas out of the cream or milk and discard. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour and corn starch. Whisk in a little bit of the banana milk, and make a lump- free paste. Add the paste back to the milk in the sauce pan, bring to a simmer, cook for two minutes while stirring, and remove from heat. In another small bowl (or the same one from before, really) separate the egg yolks and stir together. Take about a half cup of the thickened milk mixture and stir into the egg yolks. (This is called tempering the eggs. If we just added them straight to the milk, they might be shocked by the temperature and scramble…not ideal. So we introduce them gently to the heat.) Return the egg mixture to the milk, bring to a boil, and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, whisk in 2 tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla, and cool completely.
Assemble the pie: as a reminder, everything should be cool when you assemble. So, start with the pie crust and top with the peanut butter mousse. Arrange the sliced bananas in a layer and top with the banana pastry cream. For the whipped cream, I used a pastry bag to make pretty swirls, but you can certainly spoon it on and swirl nicely. I’d recommend letting everything settle for maybe an hour in the fridge, and then enjoy!