by Stephanie Zonis
Not long ago, my younger sister Laura told me about a banana cream pie she'd eaten on a business trip. At the time, I had been thinking about black bottom pie, and I decided to try to combine the two. This dessert is the result. A graham cracker-walnut crust holds a bottom layer of chocolate custard, topped by sliced bananas. These, in turn, are covered by a rum custard. The pie is served with additional sliced bananas, a rum whipped cream, and grated bittersweet chocolate. A great dessert for company!
You'll need a 10" heatproof glass pie plate. The bananas you'll use must be ripe enough to have some sweetness, but you don't want them "dead ripe"--that is, the peel should be golden with a number of brown "sugar spots", but if the peel is mostly brown, the bananas are mushier and don't handle or keep as well. You need to allow at least 4 hours of chilling time once the pie is completed, and it should be served within 24 hours of completion. Also note that you cannot freeze this! Because the pie contains rum, it's probably better suited for adults, although you can omit the rum if you wish (substitute vanilla extract in the custard, and add one additional tablespoon of confectioners' sugar in the whipped cream). Incidentally, the brand of rum I use is Myers'.
1-1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
5 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
4 cups whole milk
3 ozs. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 Tbsp. dark rum
1 large, ripe banana
Grated or shaved bittersweet chocolate
1-2 large, ripe bananas
1-1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place graham cracker crumbs in medium bowl. In food processor fitted with steel blade, combine walnut pieces and sugar. Process only until walnuts are finely ground (you don't want walnut paste here, so watch it carefully). Turn ground walnut mixture into bowl with graham cracker crumbs; stir thoroughly with large spoon to mix well. Stir in melted butter until well-combined.
Turn mixture into 10" heatproof glass pie plate. Use about 2/3 of crust mixture to form crust sides, making sure to form a high rim that comes slightly above the edge of the pie plate. Compact remaining crust mixture evenly on bottom (be careful not to get crust too thick where bottom joins sides). Bake in preheated oven 8-11 minutes, or until rim is a slightly darker gold than rest of crust. Remove from oven; cool completely before filling.
In 2 quart, heavy bottomed pot, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside. In small bowl, combine egg yolks with about 1/4 cup milk (the amount need not be exact); with fork, beat to blend well, then set aside, along with remaining milk. Place chopped bittersweet chocolate in small, heatproof bowl near stove. Place butter in medium heatproof bowl near stove. Have nearby the dark rum, a fine strainer, and a two-cup capacity, heatproof, liquid measuring cup.
Heat remaining milk in small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm (this step can be omitted, but it speeds the cooking process). Add about 1/4 cup of warmed milk to the sugar-cornstarch mixture; with whisk, stir (do not beat) to combine. Stir in yolk mixture, then gradually add remaining milk. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil--if using a whisk to stir, make sure you get into the corners while stirring. If there are any undissolved lumps of cornstarch, press them out with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Just before it boils, the mixture will become very lumpy and look awful, but if you continue stirring gently, it should smooth out as it boils. Boil and stir one minute. Remove from heat.
Immediately place the strainer over the two-cup liquid measuring cup; strain in about 1-1/2 cups custard. Turn this custard into the small heatproof bowl (the one with the bittersweet chocolate) and let stand for a couple of minutes to melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, strain the remaining custard into the medium heatproof bowl (the one containing the butter). Add the rum to the medium bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the butter and rum into the custard only until incorporated (do not beat or handle more than necessary). Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of this rum-butter custard (this will prevent a skin from forming), then pierce the plastic wrap in about a dozen places with a toothpick or knife tip to allow steam to escape. Place in refrigerator. Now, with a clean rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate into the custard in the small bowl, again handling gently and as little as possible. Repeat plastic wrap procedure with small bowl, except do not chill (leave at cool room temperature). Let stand 30 minutes. During this time, tear off a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover the top of the finished pie. with a toothpick or knife tip, pierce in about twenty places. Set aside.
Just before the 30 minutes are up, peel the banana and slice thinly--I make my slices about 1/8" thick. Turn the chocolate custard (which will still be warm) into the cooled pie crust, and spread evenly over the bottom. Working quickly, place banana slices all over the chocolate custard (you can make concentric circles, as I do, or just place them randomly). Now, remove the rum custard from the fridge (it will still be warm, too), and pour slowly onto the banana slices, again spreading evenly. The pie will be quite full. Place the pierced piece of plastic wrap (try saying that three times fast) directly on the surface of the rum custard. Place the pie in the refrigerator and chill at least four hours before serving.
About 20 minutes before serving, place a medium bowl and beater(s) in the fridge or freezer to chill. Have ready the grated or shaved chocolate and the bananas for serving. Assemble your plates and forks.
In the chilled medium bowl with chilled beater(s), beat the cream at high speed just to soft peaks. Add the confectioners' sugar and rum. Beat in at low speed until incorporated, then return to high speed to stiff peak stage.
Now, quickly peel and thinly slice the bananas. Cut slices of the pie; place each slice on a plate. Place several banana slices, overlapping, on top of each piece of pie. Place a large spoonful of the rum whipped cream along one side of each pie slice, then lightly sprinkle all with the grated chocolate. Serve immediately!
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This page created November 1998
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