Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peanut Brittle Topped Peanut Butter & Caramelized Banana Cream Pie

   Ok, so I'm on a bit of a dessert kick this summer!  I probably have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know (other than my husband), and I find baking so much fun and easy to share with you.  I mean, you can't have enough dessert recipes, right??  Here's a recipe that I was inspired to make after watching a yummy episode of Bobby Flay's Throwdown on the Food Network.  The challenge was banana cream pie, and both Bobby and the competitor's looked A-mazing!!  I have never even thought about making a banana cream pie -- and honestly it's never been a favorite of mine -- until I saw these recipes.  I decided to combine them and make my own divine version of Peanut Brittle Topped Peanut Butter & Caramelized Banana Cream Pie!

I have to start off by saying that this pie is quite a process to make.  It's a pie that you may not always have all of the ingredients on hand (like cream cheese, a box of vanilla wafers, and heavy whipping cream...oh, and make sure you have 6 eggs) so you will need to plan ahead when making this.  Also, there are several steps, that include several hours of refrigeration, so you may want to make the filling the night before or first thing in the morning in order to actually slice and eat the pie the same day.  Trust me, all of this preparation is well worth the wait!

The beauty of this delicious pie is in the layers.  The first being the homemade vanilla wafer crust, then some the layers of fresh banana slices that are overlapping right on top of the crust.  The next layer is "the" layer of caramelized banana custard that you have slaved over the stove top to prepare.  This dreamy, creamy layer is what truly makes this pie the banana goodness that it is.  The next layer of the peanut butter whipped cream/icing that makes this banana cream pie unique and rich tasting. The peanut butter tastes SO good with the banana flavor in the pie. (This is something I love so much I may add it to other pies or cakes!) The final layer, my personal contribution to the pie, is crushed peanut brittle all over the top to add a crunch that pairs perfectly with all of the creaminess!  Try this pie for a special occasion and you'll be glad I shared it with you!

Peanut Brittle Topped Peanut Butter & Caramelized Banana Cream Pie

*The Crust
3/4 of one box of Vanilla Wafers, crushed
1 stick of butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar

Combine together in a bowl until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture looks like wet sand.  Pour in a large pie plate, and push down and around with the bottom of a flat glass or measuring cup. Or, you can  do what I did and press down with a slightly smaller pie plate to quickly and evenly spread the mixture in the pie plate and up the sides!  Then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

*The Caramelized Banana Filling
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 ounces cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cold heavy cream
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is caramelized, about 4 minutes. Add the bananas and cook until bananas start to break down, and caramelize on both sides. Add 2 cups of the milk, bring to simmer and scrape the bottom and sides of pan and carefully transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth; bring to a simmer.

In a bowl whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together until combined. Add the remaining 1 cup of milk and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk this mixture into the banana mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes.Whisk together the remaining tablespoon of brown sugar and yolks in a small bowl until smooth. Ladle some of the thickened mixture into the egg mixture to temper the yolks. Pour the yolk mixture into the pot and cook until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes, WHISKING THE ENTIRE TIME. Once the mixture has thickened let it come to a boil for exactly 1 minute, whisking a few times. Remove from the heat,wisk in the vanilla and strain through a coarse mesh strainer into a bowl.

Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Once pudding is set, whip the custard in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the heavy cream and whip until light and fluffy, about 20 seconds longer.

Transfer the filling into your cooled pie shell. Place plastic on top and let chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. 

*Peanut Butter Whipped Icing
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. creamy peanut butter (do not use freshly ground)
2/3 c. chilled heavy whipping cream
Peanut Brittle, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whip together cream cheese, and powdered sugar until creamed.  Add the vanilla extract and whip in.  Next, add the peanut butter and mix together well.
In a separate medium mixing bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream on high, until firm peaks form.  Once you have made the whipped cream, gradually add it to the peanut butter-cream cheese mixture, folding it in.  Be careful to not stir this together too roughly, because you want to maintain the integrity of the whipped cream in the topping.
You will spread this evenly over the top of the filling in the pie pan.  Top with as much crushed peanut brittle as you like!

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