Monday, January 3, 2011

Savannah Banana Pie

Julia has definitely been following this journey through American Desserts with a great deal of interest. She has been reading through the cookbook, helping me with my photography, asking with regularity what the next recipe might be, and, of course, taste-testing enthusiastically but critically.

So when her birthday rolled around next week, she knew exactly what she wanted her "cake" to be: Savannah Banana Pie. And strangely enough, that pie turned out to be on my baking schedule. Funny how that works...

This pie is quite the concoction. It involves bananas and caramel and whipped cream and toffee. It's sweet and rich and creamy and crunchy. Perfect for the swarm of teenaged girls who came over for pizza and birthday pie before heading out to Paris for a day of laser tag.

I cheated a bit on this pie--instead of cooking condensed milk, I bought a jar of "confiture de lait", which is basically dulce de leche. If you can find dulce de leche, you can do the same.

But I also had to do some extra cooking: I couldn't find Almond Roca or an equivalent at the store. Sometimes I can find Daim's, a Scandinavian toffee candy, at the store, but not that day. So I made the Mahogany Toffee from Rose's Christmas Cookies. Kind of a pain, but very yummy.

This pie disappeared within minutes of serving. I didn't actually even get a piece of it--just a bite and then a few tastes while cleaning up. It does offer a nice contrast of textures, but it is quite sweet. I was busy and/or lazy and impatient and so the pie did not get its proper chilling time. It therefore was quite soupy. Don't be like me if you make this pie.

Here's the recipe. Make it for someone sweet (or someone who loves sweets!) on a festive occasion.

Savannah Banana Pie

8 oz. Amaretti or any other almond macaroon-type cookies
6 T. (3 oz.) butter, melted

Heat the oven to 375. Line a 9-inch pie plate with aluminum foil. Pound or process the amaretti into crumbs; stir in the butter. Dump into the pie plate and use a measuring cup to press the crumbs on the bottom and part way up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool, then freeze for at least an hour until completely firm. Take the crust out by the foil, peel off the foil, and then return the crust to the pan.

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk (or dulce de leche)
3-4 ripe bananas--I used about 3-1/2

If you have dulce de leche, you can relax. If not, consider doing this step even before you make the crust. Heat the oven to 425. Get out a Pyrex pie plate and a large baking dish that can contain it--probably a jelly roll pan. Pour the milk into the pan and cover it tightly with foil. Put the pie pan in the larger pan and put in the oven. Pour water in the larger pan so that it comes about 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary. The milk should caramelize. Take the pie plate out of the oven and let it cool completely.
Slice the bananas into the crust and make them into a smooth layer. Drizzle or dab on the dulce de leche to cover the bananas. Let chill for 4-8 hours.

3 oz. Almond Roca or other toffee candy
1-1/2 c. (12 0z.) whipping cream (I think 1 cup would be plenty)
2 T. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla

Chop the toffee into fairly small pieces--Maida says thin slices--and set aside. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla. Mound the cream around the banana filling, leaving the center exposed. Sprinkle the toffee on top of the cream. Refrigerate and serve cold. Burn off with a brisk game of laser tag.

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