banana cream pie

The reason this recipe even made it into my dinner party is because you can make almost all of it the day before. Being someone who often forgets to think of dessert when planning a menu, and someone with a healthy fear of from-scratch dough, I wouldn’t advise you to take this on if I thought it would be more trouble than it was worth or that it would cause too much stress. But the truth is, it’s kind of perfect for when you have company coming over, since there’s only 5 minutes of pre-serving work, which is nice since a finishing touch before serving seems to add an air of specialness, I think (a little fluffing and primping before showtime) and, honestly, I can’t imagine going to the effort of making this pie, easy but time-consuming, unless it was a special occasion like a dinner party. It’s for when you’re pulling out all the stops.

Oh and about the final result? It’s the most banana-y banana cream pie ever, and the only thing I might change next time, is to try it without a chocolate crust, because I just wanted the banana flavour to sing even louder. I wished I had more. I wish I’d spent more time caramelizing the top with a torch, but I was too anxious to split this open, building as I had been, on and off for a whole day. Please make this when you invite me over. I’ll bring very, very good port to serve with.

(See how this recipe fits into an indulgent deep-winter dinner party menu.)

Banana Cream Pie with Whole Grain Chocolate Crust
(Via Bon Appetit)

Filling
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon dark rum

Crust
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unbleached bread flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon (or more) ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
7 bananas (about), peeled
Additional sugar
Whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Filling
Whisk first 4 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in milk. Add yolks; whisk to blend. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until pastry cream thickens and boils 1 minute, about 8 minutes total. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and rum. Remove vanilla bean. Transfer mixture to bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Crust
Combine first 7 ingredients in processor. Blend until finely ground. Transfer to large bowl. Using fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix orange juice, 1 tablespoon ice water, and vanilla in small bowl. Sprinkle over chocolate mixture, tossing until dough comes together in clumps and adding more water by tablespoonfuls if dry. Using floured hands, gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap; chill dough at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 375ยฐF. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish (including rim) with nonstick spray. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch round. Peel off top parchment. Using bottom parchment as aid, turn dough over into prepared dish. Peel off parchment. Fold overhang under and crimp crust edges decoratively. Pierce crust all over with fork; freeze 10 minutes.
Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans. Bake crust 20 minutes. Remove foil with beans. Continue to bake crust until dry and firm to touch, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust completely on rack.
Spread 1 cup pastry cream over bottom of crust. Slice enough bananas into 1/4-inch-thick rounds to cover cream in overlapping circles. Cover bananas with remaining pastry cream. DO AHEAD Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Slice 3 (or more) bananas on slight diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick ovals. Arrange in overlapping circles atop pie. Sprinkle with sugar. Caramelize, if desired, using handheld torch. Alternatively, cover bananas with whipped cream, sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles, and garnish with additional banana slices.