Banana Cream Pie
Banana cream pie is an old-fashioned favorite, and here the addition of rum and spices takes this nostalgic favorite over the top. We like to use a vanilla bean for both the flavor and the pretty flecks that are visible in the custard, but you can substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract if you like. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. The caramel sauce and crust can be prepared up to two days in advance, and the entire pie can be assembled a day before serving it. You can even use purchased caramel sauce instead of making your own if you prefer.
For the crust:
- 4 1/2 cups (9 oz./280 g) vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the caramel sauce:
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) half-and-half
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
For the filling:
- 4 bananas
- 6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) rum
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) whole milk
- 1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) cornstarch
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, seeds and pod reserved
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
To make the crust, preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a food processor, pulse the cookies until fine crumbs form. Add the sugar and salt and pulse a few times to mix evenly. Add the melted butter and pulse until the texture resembles wet sand. Gently press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch (23-cm) pie dish, pressing until compact.
Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
While the crust is cooling, make the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter and salt. Cook, whisking gently, until the sauce thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and cook for 1 minute longer. Transfer the caramel sauce to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.
To make the filling, halve 2 of the bananas crosswise, then cut into thin slices. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, combine 4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g) of the butter, the brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the banana slices and gently stir until the liquid thickens slightly and the bananas are coated, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the rum, then place over medium-high heat, and simmer until the the liquid reduces to a syrup glaze, 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Spread the mixture in the crust. Thinly cut the remaining 2 bananas and arrange on top.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the milk and the cornstarch. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the milk mixture. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) milk, the granulated sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds and pod and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod.
Add the hot milk, 1/4 cup (60 ml) at a time, to the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour the mixture back into the pan. Stir constantly over medium-high heat until the mixture boils. Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter until melted. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and pierce the plastic a few times with a knife to let the steam escape. Let cool to room temperature. Spread the custard on top of the bananas.
To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the sugar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Pipe or spoon over the pie.
Drizzle the caramel sauce over the whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-SonomaThe Pie Cookbook (Weldon Owen, 2016)