Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

Oh yeah, you read that right. It's banana cream pie -- but perfected by the addition of perhaps my favorite food of all time, peanut butter. So many reasons to get carried away here: the salty ... the sweet ... the peanut butter and banana sandwich I ate almost every day for lunch in high school ... the opportunity to share something in common with Elvis ... pie ...

This recipe leapt from the pages of Bon Appetit's grievously caloric spread on "Diner Desserts" and grabbed me by the tastebuds (every one of them). Knowing how much I was sure to love it, and also painfully aware of my nonexistent will power, I took to downsizing immediately.

With every bite of this delicious dessert, David and I marveled at how perfect it was. The crust is sweet and crunchy like toffee; the vanilla pudding is perfectly balanced; and the final layer is like eating peanut butter-flavored air. Fluffy, delicious, peanutbuttery air. May just have to make it again tomorrow.

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie
(Serves 2; total prep/cook/cool time, about 2 hours)

Vanilla Wafer Crust
1 1/2 oz vanilla wafers (about 8)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 Tbsp sugar

Vanilla Pudding Layer
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch salt
1/4 c heavy cream
2 Tbsp whole milk
1/2 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter
1 banana
lemon or orange juice (just for tossing banana)

Peanut Butter Layer
3/4 oz cream cheese, room temp
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp heavy cream

  1. For the crust, either throw everything in the food processor and blend until uniform or smash wafers and sugar in a ziplock bag until fine, then melt the butter and stir together. Press into 2 individual tart pans, large muffin tins, or a mini pie plate. Bake at 350ยบ for 10-12 minutes. Cool.
  2. For the pudding, in a small saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add dairy and yolk and mix all very well. [Sorry about the yolk, there's no shortcut around this, you need the egg to thicken the pudding. Just crack an egg over a dish to catch the white and then split the yolk in half. Have the white-and-half-yolk for breakfast tomorrow.] Over medium heat, cook the mixture--stirring constantly--until it boils and thickens, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in vanilla and divide between cooled crusts. Chill 30 min - 1 hr (until set).
  3. Take the banana and slice it thin, about 1/4-inch slices. Toss in orange or lemon juice to prevent browning. Once the pudding is set, lay out bananas over surface, reserving a few for garnish, if you want.
  4. For the peanut butter layer, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar until well mixed. Add vanilla and peanut butter and blend some more. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Fold it into the peanut butter mixture, a little at a time, being very gentle. Spread over banana layer and return to fridge for another hour or two, until fully chilled and set up.
  5. Garnish with reserved bananas and eat, eat, eat.
As usual, some notes....

I used individual miniature tart pans, but maybe you'd rather use muffin/cupcake tins. The only way this pie could have been improved is if I had made them deep rather than wide. The tins might be tricky when it comes time to extricate, though. Also, you could probably get away with less-than-full-fat milks in the pudding, but you may want to up the cornstarch if you do.

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