Banana Pie

Lately I’ve been on a baking kick. I’ve made coconut cupcakes that totally didn’t turn out, lime buttercream that totally did turn out (which caused me to make vanilla cupcakes for the lime buttercream), malted cupcakes with mocha malt buttercream (cakes were great, buttercream only ok) and a coconut-lime pie where the curd and the crust were fantastic, the cream tasted good, but had a weird texture. My experiments have been a little . . . interesting lately.

This weekend the experiment was banana pie. I’m of mixed minds when it comes to banana pie – I love banana and I love pie, but sometimes banana in pie isn’t great. So I decided to start with mom’s banana pudding recipe, make my own caramel and top it with a lightly sweetened whipped cream.

The one thing I can say about this pie is that the caramel and banana work really well together. Match made well. Bob liked it – calling it one of my best pies – so there is a definite reason to keep this recipe. The only thing I would do differently is use a vanilla wafer or traditional pastry crust instead of the cinnamon graham cracker crust. But it is still really good.

Recipe:

  • Caramel:
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat until it melts and turns an amber color. Stir as little as possible to prevent crystal formation. Reduce heat to low (or remove from heat) and add butter, stirring to incorporate. If on heat, remove from heat and add vanilla and heavy cream. Mix well and allow to cool. (I ran it through a strainer just to get it super smooth, but that is unnecessary, really.)

  • Pie filling:
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until it thickens. (I did add the vanilla at the end of the cooking, just because I forgot to add it, and it still worked.) Whisk frequently so lumps do not form, and allow to cool before filling the pie crust.

To assemble the pie, take the crust (graham cracker, vanilla wafer or traditional pastry) and coat the bottom with about half the caramel mixture. Spread to an even coating.

Chop one banana and layer the slices over the caramel to cover the bottom of the pie dish.

Pour pudding over banana even out to a relatively uniform layer. Add whipped cream (~3/4 cup heavy cream and 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar) over pudding layer. Cover and chill for about two hours.

Gros Ventre, Vermentino – 2017

  • Basic info:Gros Ventre, Vermentino, El Dorado, CA – 2017
  • Type: white
  • Price estimate: $24 (from winery)
  • Look: very pale yellow with a slight green tinge.
  • Smell: lemon grass, apricot, and a bit of honey
  • Taste: Citrus, melon, tart but still smooth. White peach in the middle and a mineral/melon finish.
  • Conclusions: Very good. Perfect summer sipping wine. Lots of interest and great flavors that change as the wine warms a little. Very citrus tasting when ice cold, but the melon really shines when it has sat for about ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Other notes: Last year this was the wine that made me rethink whites. I went back and looked at my notes and the 2016 had more apple flavors and just wowed me. This one is different, we really liked it, but it didn’t have that “oh wow” moment and while we really enjoyed the bottle, it just wasn’t the same. A few weeks later we opened a second bottle of this and it was the 2016 all over again. Apple, peach, melon, mineral and a touch of saline. It was perfect and that same “oh wow” that our first bottle this year lacked.
  • From the bottle: From the winery, “Our 2017 Vermentino is perfect for warm weather drinking. It’s bright and approachable, with notes of white flowers, lemon zest, and touch of briny-ness that screams for oysters. It was co-fermented with a splash of Picpoul Blanc that adds freshness and minerality to the finished wine.”  12.4% alcohol by volume.

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