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Banana Cream Pie

Most people would find it tough to choose a favorite pie, but banana cream pie would surely be on many short lists. Another diner classic that shines even more brightly when made at home, each bite features a heavenly medley of buttery crust, velvety vanilla filling, rich whipped cream and slices of ripe, sweet banana.

Ingredients:

  • Basic pie dough for a single-crust pie, (see recipe at left)
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 2 large bananas, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, shaved into curls using a vegetable peeler (optional)

Directions:

Roll pie dough into a 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish, fitting the dough into the bottom and sides. Trim the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under, then flute the edge. Using a fork, pierce the dough all over, then line with aluminum foil and freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F. Place the dough-lined pan on a baking sheet and fill the foil with pie weights. Bake until the dough looks dry and is barely golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the milk and the cornstarch. In a heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks until blended. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the yolks. In a saucepan, combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups milk, the sugar and salt. Using a paring knife, slit the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds into the saucepan and add the pod. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then return to the saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and let bubble for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a stainless-steel bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg and the vanilla pod. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling, and pierce the plastic a few times with a knife tip to allow the steam to escape. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and let cool until lukewarm.

Meanwhile, in a chilled bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate.

Spread the banana slices in the cooled pie crust. Spread the filling on top. Press a clean piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Remove the plastic wrap. Spread and swirl the whipped cream over the filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, scatter the chocolate curls, if using, over the whipped cream topping, and serve in wedges. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).