Saturday, April 07, 2012

Banana Cream Pie with Peanut Crust and Salty Bourbon Caramel

One of many things that is nice about living in more Southern climes is the prolonged transitional seasons. Spring and Fall are always my favorites, but growing up in the North, I was used to these fleeting mild days that you felt you had to capture before the weather got too hot or too cold (though there is some special excitement and gratitude that goes along with that ephemeral feeling). We've had a warm winter anyway, and spring started way early, granting us delighfully warm days in March. In like a lamb and out like a lamb.

I've made this pie on two occasions now, the first being for Pi(e) Day and the second for a honky-tonk St. Patrick's Day party (dubbed Achey Breaky Harp) with friends Joe Overton and the Clear Blue Sky serving up some fine classic country in our living room. It was preceded by a blue ribbon backyard cook-out complete with local burgers, steak, homemade salsa and guacamole, potato salad, fried pickles, grilled homemade pizza, and watermelon. One of the guests asked me if it was July. Pi(e) Day too, was one of those gloriously sunshiney spring days, whose weather alone deserved celebrating. What better way to celebrate than with this absolutely decadent banana cream pie with a peanut crust and salty bourbon caramel.

This, like the black bottom pie I made recently, is another recipe from Ashley Christensen of Poole's Diner in Raleigh, North Carolina. It's a classic banana cream, that reminds me of one of my dad's favorite desserts to make my brother and I when we were kids--vanilla pudding with vanilla wafers and banana slices. Christensen gives that kiddie combo an Elvis touch with the addition of a peanut crust, then takes the kiddie out of it entirely, via an "adults only" very bourbony caramel topping.

Banana Cream Pie with Peanut Crust and Salty Bourbon Caramel

For peanut crust:
1 1/4 c. unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (I used vanilla-bourbon extract)

For vanilla custard:
2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
3 Tblsp. cornstarch
2 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used vanilla-bourbon extract)

For topping & caramel:
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 Tblsp. powdered sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tblsp. bourbon (I used Bulleit)
1/2 tsp. corn syrup
3 Tbslp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract (I used vanilla-bourbon extract)
3 ripe bananas

For peanut crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Pulse peanuts in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer 1/4 c. to a small bowl and set aside for garnish. Pulse remaining peanuts until formed into peanut butter, approximately 2 minutes.

2. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to combine both sugars, peanut butter and butter until fully combined and mixture resembles wet sand, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl, until fully combined, approximately 3 minutes (mix will be clumpy). Slowly add dry ingredients, beating just until combined--do not over mix. Place dough in a greased and lightly floured 9-inch pie dish and pat dough into bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake 15-17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let cool. Crust can be made up to 2 days ahead, but make sure to wrap it well with plastic wrap.

For vanilla custard:
1. Place milk and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Meanwhile, use a whisk to combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add egg yolks and whisk until smooth (mixture will be very thick). Whisking constantly, slowly add milk mixture to yolk mixture. Pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 2-3 minutes. 

2. Transfer to a blender and add butter and vanilla. Purée mixture until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the custard. Chill until set, at least 2 hours. The custard can be made 2 days ahead, but again, make sure it is well-wrapped!

For topping & caramel:
1. Using an electric mixer (or a whisk and some hard work), beat 1/2 c. cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Cover whipped cream and chill. Whipped cream can be made 2 hours ahead, but re-whip cream slightly before assembling pie.

2. Stir sugar, 1 Tblsp. bourbon, corn syrup, and 1 Tblsp. water in a medium deep saucepan and place over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring only occasionally, and occasionally swirling pan and scraping down sides with a rubber spatula, until sugar is deep-amber in color, about 6-8 minutes. Remove caramel from heat and whisk in remaining 1/4 c. cream, butter, and salt (mixture will bubble). Let cool for 5 minutes, then whisk in remaining 1/2 Tblsp. bourbon and vanilla. Let bourbon caramel cool to room temperature. I poured mine into a Ball jar for ease of transport, pouring and later, refrigeration. Caramel can be made 2 hours ahead.

3. Spread 1/4 c. vanilla custard over the bottom of the crust. Slice bananas into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Layer half of the bananas over the custard. Top with 1 1/2 c. custard. Arrange remaining bananas over the custard, and top with remaining custard, making sure to leave a row of bananas visible around the edge. Garnish with whipped cream and reserved ground peanuts. Top with bourbon caramel when ready to serve.

While completely worth it, this pie has a lot of steps, so make sure to allot enough time for all the cooking and baking, cooling and chilling. I suggest making the crust and custard the night before, if you can, or start early the day you want to eat it.

This is easily one of the favorite pies I've ever made, and perhaps one of the most attractive. It was one of the first to go on Pi(e) Day, and drew a big kitchen crowd between two-stepping sets, when I took it out of the fridge and doused it with bourbon caramel. Both times the pie plate was completely licked clean within minutes. I'm gonna need to find out who did that and invite them to join our plate lickers club.

1 comment:

Xahnn said...

Anywhere around you can search for a good food with different specialty of taste and you will get used to it. Happy eating everyone :)


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