Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ultimate Banana Cream Pie

A couple of months ago, we took a friend out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, Depot, right here in Old Town Torrance. The meal was excellent, as always. Chef Michael Shafer knows his stuff. And he definitely knows about banana cream pie.

We ordered it to share among the three of us that night, and this is what we got...

The thing was massive. It had a shortbread crust, filled with milk chocolate ganache, topped with heaps of cream bearing chunks of fresh banana, raspberries, toasted pecans, and a sprig of mint. Oh, and caramel dripping off the heap of cream onto the plate. Yep, that's what you're looking at. Heavenly.

After I indulged, I thought...I could make this. I really could.

And after I posted this bad boy on Facebook, I got a lot of 'likes'. I also told my Aunt Lucy that I'd make it for her someday. And that day came this week.

For her 60th birthday, my cousins and I threw her a party and I got to make her (one of the) dessert(s)! She's made at least 18 cakes for me, including birthdays and my wedding cake, so it was time to honor her with some sweet stuff. This is how I made it:

Cut up butter in chunks and place in a microwave safe container to melt it down to liquid,
Add the butter, flour, cornstarch, and sugar to a mixing bowl and mix until it all comes together,
Press dough into a tart pan or several individual ones, being careful to get it about 1/4 inch thick all around and bake it in the oven. 
Start your ganache on the stove top, pouring in 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 cups of chocolate,
Stir with a whisk until it gets smooth and glossy,
and pours thick, like this into the bottom of the tart shell.
Then whip the cream for the topping, adding powdered sugar to sweeten it slightly,
cut up the bananas in big chunks,
and start dishing up the cream,
add a layer of banana,
more cream, and raspberries,
and finally, the nuts and caramel syrup! 

The Ultimate Banana Cream Pie, inspired by the pie at Depot Restaurant
For the Crust:
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
3/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup sugar

For the Ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups chocolate (semi-sweet, milk, or dark, whatever you prefer)

For the Cream and Toppings:
1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 medium-large bananas
1/2 pint raspberries
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
3-4 Tbsp caramel syrup (I used Smuckers Caramel Flavored Syrup)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, blend the melted butter, flour, cornstarch, and sugar until the dough comes together (about 1-2 minutes). Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan for the scalloped edges (or several individual ones). A regular cake pan or glass dish would work too, but for presentation, I like the pretty decorative crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

In a saucepan, add 1 cup heavy cream and chocolate (chips or chopped up). Heat on low-medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture looks smooth and glossy. It should also be thick like syrup.

Once the shortbread crust is cooled, pour in the chocolate ganache, and let it set on the counter top. In the meantime, cut up the bananas into large chunks (1-1.5 inch pieces). Whip up the remaining heavy cream and powdered sugar with a mixer until fluffy peaks form.

When the ganache has set, spoon half the whipped cream on top, then add the bananas in one layer. Add the rest of the cream to cover all of the bananas to prevent browning. Then decorate with fresh raspberries, pecans, and caramel syrup. Share this dessert with friends and/or family! 

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