ban(ana + t)offee pie

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I think what the English call “toffee” is what Americans call butterscotch or caramel sauce. This toffee recipe didn’t work; it was too watery. Since I only have one oven rack, I emptied both cans of condensed milk into one pie plate. Although the milk browned, it might not have been thick enough. How thick should toffee become? I wish the recipe had given a temperature or described the consistency. It still tasted pretty good though;  not too sweet with the interesting texture of the crunchy biscuit base, the sticky sweet toffee, and the smooth lightly sweet bananas with the crème fraîche. I also used a 9-inch springform pan instead of a pie plate. If you want a less thick biscuit crust use the pie plate.

Banoffee Pie (adapted from Nigella Lawson, Epicurious, Carnation)

400 grams digestive biscuits, processed in a food processor to a fine crumb
200 grams unsalted butter
2 tins (14 oz each) condensed milk
2 large ripe bananas or 4 medium
1 chocolate (for grating and decoration) or cocoa powder (for sprinkling), optional

Crème Fraîche
1 1/2 cups whipping cream or heavy cream
1/2 cup or one carton sour cream or plain Greek-style yogurt, optional
2 tablespoons sugar

Melt butter and add crushed biscuits, spread crumbs on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate then chill for 1 hour. It will make a 1/4 inch deep crust all around.

Prepare to make the toffee. This can be made one day ahead.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Pour each can condensed milk into 9-inch pie plates. Cover tightly with aluminum foil; place in shallow pans (pan should be larger than pie plate). Fill pans with hot water to come halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Do not let water touch the foil cover. Bake in 25 minute increments checking to be sure the water doesn’t boil out. Altogether it should take about 2 hours, or until thick and light caramel-colored. It took me 1 hour and 40 minutes. Pour toffee into small mixer bowl; beat until smooth.

Put the toffee in the refrigerator to thicken and cool. When thoroughly cooled, spread the toffee over the biscuit base, smoothing it as close to the edge as possible.

Slice up ripe bananas and arrange them on top of the toffee.

Whip up the crème fraîche and spread on top of the banana slices. Alternatively, serve the whipped crème fraîche on the side.

To make crème fraîche, put all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until stiff peaks form. Because crème fraîche is tangy, leave out the sour cream/yogurt if you want sweetened whipped cream.

If desired, grate some chocolate or make some chocolate curls, or drizzle melted chocolate over the whipped crème fraîche. I sprinkled unsweetened cocoa on top. Chill at least 2 hours, then serve.

strawberry pie with graham cracker crust

DSC05095

The glaze of this strawberry pie really is that ruby-jewel color! There is absolutely no food dye in this pie glaze, and the photograph is not photoshopped. I used to make this pie in the summer-time in Milwaukee, a long time ago when it was a two-newspaper town! So it brings back memories of college days, of friends and neighbors, and the children when they were babies.  So when I saw imported strawberries on sale for the unbelievable price of Baht 59 (US$1.60) per pint, well…As they say, food is memories.

Strawberry Pie with Graham Cracker Crust (adapted from: The Milwaukee Journal)

1 1/2 quarts strawberries, hulled and drained
1 cup sugar
3 -4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

9” graham cracker crust
1 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbl melted butter.

Make the crust: Pat crumbs into a pie pan and bake 10 minutes at 350 until golden brown. Cool thoroughly.

Crush 1 cup strawberries. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in water and crushed berries. Cook over medium heat, stirring to boil. Reduce to low heat for 2 minutes. Mixture should be thick and translucent. Set aside to cool.

Place whole berries in pie shell, reserving the best for the top. Pour cooled glaze evenly over the strawberries. Chill for 2 hours at least. Serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche, if desired.

Crème Fraîche
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek Style yogurt
2 tablespoons sugar

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Whip all ingredients until stiff peaks form.

freezer banana cream pie

DSC03307We went to Xinn Tien Di, a Chinese restaurant that specializes in dim sum in the Gaysorn Shopping Center. Gaysorn was so wanting for customers–all those Western luxury brands, and not a single customer in sight. The street protests have started to put a deep dent in the flow of tourism.

At Xinn Tien Di, the lunchtime crowd had just filled up all the tables by the time we sat down. We ordered six dimsum dishes–little dumplings filled with shrimp, pork, and fish– and, to top up our appetites, a plate of fish in black bean sauce with noodles.  In the picture at left is sticky rice, mushrooms, and shrimp wrapped in banana leaf and steamed. The taste was delicate: the slightly earthy taste of the shiitake mushrooms, the freshness of the shrimp, and the smooth stickiness of the rice that captured the seasonings so they didn’t all steam away. The cost was surprisingly reasonable: Baht 1050 for two people.

We were still quite full after dimsum–it wasn’t heavy so much as it was satisfying, and the memory lingered all afternoon in our stomachs. We were ready for a light supper by 7 p.m. and dessert. I made this banana cream pie last night because it takes 12 hours to chill and harden. The only baking required is to make the pie shell. Just before serving I sliced up a large banana into slivers, dipped each sliver into fresh lime juice to preserve the color, and placed them on top of the pie. I ate the few leftover slivers–bananas and lime juice definitely are a match. I sprinkled demerara sugar on top of the bananas on the pie. You can brulée the top of the sugared banana slices if you have a kitchen torch, which I do not. I should get one–I’ve always wanted to set my food on fire.

freezer banana cream pie
freezer banana cream pie

Freezer Banana Cream Pie (adapted from Yahoo! Shine Food)

For the pie shell:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, optional

Pre-heat the oven to 350˚F or 185˚C.

Pulse all ingredients in food processor to evenly distribute the butter and salt, if using. Transfer to one 9” pie plate and press the crumbs on the bottom and sides. Bake for 12 minutes. Set aside to cool on a wire rack until cooled completely.

For the filling:

2 ripe bananas (approximately 1 cup)
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream, whipped until stiff peaks form

In a large bowl, mash 2 ripe bananas with the back of a fork. Add condensed milk, salt, and vanilla. Combine one-third of the whipped cream mixture into the banana mixture. This lightens the banana mixture so you don’t over-mix it when adding the whipped cream. Add whipped cream to the banana mixture and gently fold with a silicone spatula. To fold, cut the mixture in the middle of the bowl and push the banana-cream mixture towards the side. Flip and do a quarter turn of the bowl. Continue folding and turning the bowl until the mixtures are combined. Pour into cooled pie shell. Freeze for 12 hours.

For the topping:

1-2 bananas
2 tablespoons demerara sugar

When ready to serve, thinly slice 1-2 bananas and layer on top of the pie. Sprinkle with sugar. The original directions say you can brulée the top. If you wish to do this, use superfine sugar instead of the demerara, because it is the sugar that melts and browns in brulée. Alternatively, you can brown the bananas in a little butter on the stove top. Slice and serve.