Sunday, August 21, 2011

peanut butter banana cream pie

Skies have been rather overcast lately. The threat of rain looms constantly. Occasionally following through on its promise with bursts of lightning and roars of thunder. Everything's gray. The air smells different. Mom hates this sort of weather; she finds it depressing.

I love it, though. Three months ago, I'd hate it. Three months ago, overcast skies and rain storms meant humidity, air too thick and heavy to breathe comfortably, hair puffing up unceremoniously, and general sulkiness. Now, they mean cool nights, gentle breezes, excuses to curl up on the couch under a knit blanket with television and a good cookbook. They tell me about the autumn to come, my favorite time of year.

Particularly this autumn. Not so sure why. I don't anticipate for it to be the best autumn of my life, or anything, but then again, I don't really think of time that way. What's the point in compartmentalizing the better times from otherwise good ones? Seems silly. Too much effort. Plus, comparing now with the past isn't really...plausible. I'm a different person now than I was this time last year. Not in a positive or negative way, or anything, just...different. Older, maybe wiser, maybe more naive, what have you. So, no, it's not going to be the best autumn of my life. But it is going to be lovely.

It will be busy, of course, what with the semester starting up this week. Lots of seminars, finishing up major requirements, working part-time, volunteering, internship-hunting, etc. etc. But there will be hiking, and apple-picking, and pumpkin pie-baking, and reading, and meeting friends for coffees, and quality television, and an unending list of books, and new video games, and photography, and concerts, and traveling.

Or maybe even none of that. But even still, I love to watch the leaves change. And that's enough to make me excited.

But, you know, peanut butter banana cream pie helps. Especially when your best friend is back at the flat to enjoy it with you.

[I have, by the way, watched so much BBC that at this point, "flat" is making its way into my everyday vocabulary. It takes so much less effort to say than "apartment." Wonder why it hasn't caught on here.]

Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie
Adapted from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

For the crust, you'll need:
  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers [approximately 16 full crackers]
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp butter, cold and cut into small cubes

For the vanilla custard, you'll need:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 ripe, but firm, bananas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the peanut butter topping, you'll need:
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

To prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9-inch pie dish. In a food processor, combine graham crackers, walnuts, flour, sugar, and salt, and crush until coarse. Toss in cold butter and pulse until the mixture comes together. Press the graham cracker mixture on the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until lightly golden. Let pie crust cool completely.

To prepare the vanilla custard:
Whisk sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture is smooth and uniform, continue whisking and slowly pour in heavy cream, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until blended, and then add in egg yolks, one a at a time, and whisk. Whisk until mixture comes to a boil, and continue whisking for 5-6 minutes until mixture thickens. Finally, add in butter and whisk until the custard is uniform. Pour the custard into the cooled pie crust, and chill until set, at least one hour.

Slice the bananas into uniform pieces and toss with lemon juice. Layer the sliced bananas evenly on top of the cold vanilla custard. Return to the fridge while you prepare the peanut butter topping.

To prepare the peanut butter topping:
Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add in vanilla and peanut butter. In a separate bowl, beat chilled heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold heavy cream into the peanut butter mixture until incorporated. Dollop the peanut butter mixture over the sliced bananas. Return the pie to the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

    Noosh moved back in a few days ago, but we hadn't really gotten a chance to hang out until this weekend, what with her unpacking and me working. This also happens to be our last free weekend before term starts, so we figured, what better way to bond than bake something delicious and see what shenanigans the TARDIS is getting into?

    [Oh yes, I've gotten her into Doctor Who. I feel like I'm single-handedly propagandizing BBC television in the United States.]

    ...okay so the real reason for the baking is that Noosh brought a ton of bananas here with her, and I already had quite a few, and we can't actually eat them all before they go off. So, naturally, baking with them was the best option. Plus, ever since watching the episode of Throwdown where Bobby Flay battles Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, I've been dying to make this pie.

    Erm. It's freaking delicious. Best banana cream pie I've ever eaten. Gorgeous, subtle hint of peanut butter, strong banana flavor, amazing crust [my own creation, thank you very much!], silky smooth custard, fluffy, creamy, crunchy, freaking delicious. I wish I could patent this recipe, but all credit go to Mr. Lewis and Poliafito.

    Brilliant men, those two.

    As for me, I'm going to spend my last day of summer finishing up Doctor Who, sleeping, and watching rain storms.


    1. I have to say grudgingly that it does look quite delicious, but I still won't ask you to bake it for me.The combination of peanut butter and bananas.......... not so appetizing!

    2. I have to disagree with your mom here (Sorry!!), but the fact that peanut butter AND bananas made it into a PIE just sets the stage for one of those infamous eat-whole-pie-in-one-sitting days. Also, SIX DAYS until Doctor Who! :)

    3. @Mom: I sometimes wonder how we're related... :P

      @Jess: I agree wholeheartedly. And it ended up being, more or less, one of those infamous scenarios... Doctor Who and all... :)

    4. I love to try this on chocolate flavor..

    5. Excellent recipe! Thanks for sharing. My family is going to love it.

      I love banana recipes in general.. check out my blog on

    7. so much beauty! the topping looks rich and incredible!

    8. @ellamarie: I've seen quite a few banana cream pies with chocolate fudge ribbons, which sound absolutely incredible! So I'm sure the addition of chocolate would be wonderful here!

      @Mike: Thanks so much for the kind words! I hope they enjoy it :)

      @xlizzyx: You should! It's just delicious!

      @joythebaker: Thank you so much! The topping is definitely not for the fainthearted :)


    Thanks so much for reading!
    I'd love to hear your thoughts :)