Roasted Banana Cream Pie

A seemingly endless state legislative session, a crawling infant, and a defunct computer have all conspired against me and this blog. But now that we have a new computer, I can now happily write a post for this long neglected blog. I was about to post a piece on a tofu and noodle dish, but the temporary return of my interest and energy in blogging is for me at least, a cause for celebration and what is there in life worth celebrating unless there’s pie?

The pie here is banana cream. Although bananas are my least favorite fruit, I have a deep, dark love for banana cream pie. When I was little, my mom once bought me a banana cream pie for my birthday instead of a cake. Normally when I tell people that story, they oddly feel sorry for me but I was not a disappointed 6-year-old. Not at all. I can only guess it’s because banana aside, banana cream pie has some of my favorite things from when I was little– vanilla pudding and whipped cream. I remember always asking for vanilla pudding cups when I was a kid and as for whipped cream, well even as an adult, I could honestly sit down with a giant bowl full of it and a spoon and be deliriously happy.

So I made a banana cream pie to satisfy a craving for one. This pie, however, is not your regular banana pudding in pie form banana cream pie. This one has a thick but quick pastry cream, rich with vanilla, and is layered with a puree of roasted bananas to intensify the banana flavor. I also added layers of firm, under-ripe banana slices for texture. Finally, the whole pie is frosted with whipped cream and sprinkled with toasted almond slices for a little crunch. It’s perfect when you cut a slice and eat it with a tall glass of cold milk. I doubt anyone would feel sorry for you if you had this instead of cake for your birthday.

  • Your favorite pie crust, pre-baked. I used a half portion of the baked flaky pastry recipe from The Joy of Cooking.
  • 3 ripe, on the verge of overripe, medium bananas.
  • 2-3 under-ripe (some yellow but spots of green) bananas.
  • 1 box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 cups heavy cream, separated
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, separated
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Place the ripe bananas on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until banana peels are a deep, dark brown. Let bananas cool enough to touch then using a paring knife, split the bananas lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Puree until smooth. Set aside.

Make the pastry cream by making the pudding according to package directions, only using cold heavy cream instead of milk and adding a teaspoon of vanilla. Chill until set. While pastry cream sets, slice the under-ripe bananas into 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Assemble the pie by spreading half of the roasted banana puree on the bottom of a cooled, prepared crust. Top with half of the pastry cream. Spread the remaining banana puree on top of the pastry cream and cover with a single layer of banana slices. Top with remaining pastry cream then cover with plastic wrap and set pie in the fridge to chill and set for at least an hour. Right before serving, whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream with an electric mixer. Let the mixer go for about a minute on medium speed before adding the sugar and remaining teaspoon of vanilla then crank the mixer up to medium high speed. Whip until you have peaks that hold their shape when you lift up the beaters, about 3-4 minutes. Spread an inch thick layer of whipped cream over the pie. If you want to get fancy, you can put some of the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and make curls around the border of the pie. (See my sloppy attempt in the picture above, but hey! I’m a lobbyist not a pie decorator!) Set a circle of banana slices around the edge of the pie then place 2-3 slices in the center. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

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Banana Pecan Marscarpone Pancakes

I could try to sell this to you as an idea for a Mother’s Day breakfast, but I’m not going to because of my proprietary nature. I’m keeping this one filed away for when I open my own bed and breakfast some day.

It’s a simple enough concept. One day a couple of years ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning and started to put together our usual Bisquick pancake and bacon breakfast. Although Bisquick results in a perfectly good pancake, I was a little bored with just plain pancakes and wanted to dress them up a little. A couple of soon to be overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and a couple of tablespoons of leftover marscarpone cheese in the fridge and I knew what I had to do. I caramelized the bananas in some butter and brown sugar with a handful of pecans toasting in there as well. The bananas tasted slightly like butterscotch and were just slightly browned and gooey, a perfect contrast to a single dollop of cold, creamy, tangy marscarpone cheese.

With this breakfast, I kept the topping but swapped out the Bisquick pancakes for ones made from scratch, enlivened with a bit of yellow cornmeal. The result was a fluffy pancake with a slightly nutty chew. Okay, so I’m not really all that possessive of this recipe– I believe recipes are for sharing and tweaking. So go ahead, and make this for your mother’s day breakfast. After all, it wouldn’t be right to make Mom wait for me to pull the funds together for that B&B.

Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Topping

  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/3 cup pecan pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 2-4 tablespoons of marscarpone cheese
  • maple syrup

Heat a griddle or large skillet, lightly brushed with oil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk through vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. This will result in a thick batter that will produce cakey pancakes– if you like yours on thinner side, add a splash of milk to thin out the batter.

Using a ladle or a 1/4 cup measure, spoon the batter onto the griddle. Flip them when you see light browning around the edges and bubbles in the center pop and craters remain in the pancakes, about 3-4 minutes, then continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes until lightly browned on the second side. Keep pancakes warm in a low heated oven until ready to serve.

While pancakes cook, make the topping. In a medium skillet, melt butter in over medium heat. Sprinkle in the pecans and brown sugar. Toast the pecans for 3-4 minutes before adding in the banana slices. Let this simmer, stirring occasionally for about 7-8 minutes or until bananas are lightly caramelized around the edges. Mix in the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Spoon topping over pancakes and top with a dollop of marscarpone. Drizzle syrup on top.