Divine Dining: Banoffee Pie
While living in Ireland, I discovered something truly magical. I’m not speaking of pots of gold, leprechauns or four-leaf clovers. I’m speaking of the magical concoction that is banoffee pie.
I realize it sounds like I just named a character from Dr. Seuss, but let me parse that word for you: ban (from banana) + offee (from toffee) = banoffee pie. This delightful combination of caramelized sweetened condensed milk, bananas and fresh whipped cream pillowed atop a crispy graham cracker crust is phenomenal. It is a staple of Irish and English desserts, like apple pie is to us.
I’ve updated it a bit by making it in mini pies for individual servings, which makes it much easier to serve and allows you to eat oh, three whole pies, without too much guilt. After one taste of this delectable confection, you’ll want to eat more and more of it.
The Irish/British folk have actually invented a word for that as well: moreish. There is just nothing more moreish than banoffee pie. Enjoy.
Makes 9 mini pies.
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (DO NOT buy the can with a pop-off lid. Because you boil the milk in the can, you want a regular, sealed can.)
1 sleeve of graham crackers, finely pulsed in a food processor or smashed in a food storage bag until fine crumbs
1 T sugar
5 T butter, melted
2 bananas, sliced
fresh whipped cream
Turning sweetened condensed milk to toffee can be a tricky business. Here is the safest and easiest way to do it: put a large saucepan on medium heat. Place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk, with the paper label removed, in the pan and cover with water until completely covered by water, with two inches of water above the top of the can. Boil gently for 2 hours, adding more water as it evaporates to ensure that the can is completely covered by water at all times. This is a great time to clean your house or, you know, watch a couple of episodes of NCIS, whatever strikes your fancy. After 2 hours, remove from the pan and let cool. Again, do not open. (If you would like to skip the step of making your own toffee, you can buy what is called “dulce de leche” in the grocery store section with sweetened condensed milk, which is already toffee.) Meanwhile, prepare the crusts for your mini pies. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 9 paper cupcake liners and lightly grease. As you can see from my picture, I did not do this, and we had a bit of a falling apart situation. So do as I say, and not as I do, and you’ll have adorable pies that are easy to serve and eat. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter and spoon evenly among muffin liners. Press firmly to form a crust along the bottom and halfway up the sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Now you can open that glorious can of sweetened condensed milk and discover that it has turned a light golden brown color and taken on a phenomenal toffee flavor. Resist the urge to grab a spoon and go to town on that can! Spoon a layer of toffee into each pie crust, then add sliced banana and top with a very generous dollop of whipped cream. Shave some chocolate on top and serve immediately. Moreish, aren’t they?
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The Rev. Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.