Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bananas and toffee and cream, oh my!

Banana cream pie was one of my favorite childhood desserts, and in Sacramento, my favorite was the one my friend Elaine did for the restaurant she and her husband David owned, Bamboo.

But the Brits one-upped us in the 1970s when the owners of The Hungry Monk, a restaurant in East Sussex, invented Banoffi Pie, which combines the flavors of banana and toffee. It's really easy, too.

Banoffi Pie

3 cans sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of salt
1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
3 large bananas
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour condensed milk into pie plate, sprinkle with salt and cover tightly with foil. Put in a roasting pan, then add about a half inch of boiling water. Bake, refilling pan to halfway with water about every 40 minutes, until milk is thick and a deep golden caramel color, about 2 hours. Remove pie plate from water bath and transfer toffee to a bowl, then chill toffee, uncovered, until it is cold, about 1 hour.
While toffee is chilling, clean pie plate and bake empty pie crust in it (pie weights will keep it from puffing up too much). Cool crust completely in pan on a rack, about 20 minutes.
Spread toffee evenly in crust, and chill, uncovered, 15 minutes.
Cut bananas into 1/4-inch-thick slices and pile over toffee.
Beat cream with brown sugar in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks, then mound over top of pie.
The toffee can be made up to two days before.

If you want to make your own pie crust, here's the original recipe from The Hungry Monk:
For the pastry:
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg and 1 egg yolk

Place the flour and sugar in a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and then rub it in to the flour / sugar until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Work in the egg to form a paste.
Chill for half an hour then roll out to 1/8-inch thick and line the deep pie tin.
Prick the base, line with parchment paper and weigh down with dry beans.
Cook for 15 minutes then remove the beans and paper.
Put the crust back into the oven and cook until it is evenly golden.
Remove from the oven and cool.

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