I think they should change the name of Thanksgiving Day to “Thankgoodness Day.” Thank Goodness… for Pie Day!! What other day of the year allows you to throw out the diet and eat any pie you want? eat lots of pies? at the same time? I can’t think of one.
One day a year, all kinds of families travel all over America to just sit together and eat pie. When it comes down to it, there really are only two kinds of families—families that like cream pies and families that don’t.
My husband’s family likes cream pies.
Thanksgivings at his family home were full of every kind of pie you could think of, every kind of pie, that is, except the kind of pie I like… fruit pie. Yep, I’m from the “other” kind of family. My sons seem to have inherited the fruit pie gene as well. So, out of necessity, I decided to make this Mini Banana Cream Pie Recipe a regular at our Thanksgiving dinner.
Banana cream pies are usually a little tricky. The whip cream and custard can separate if traveling long distances and I just hate cutting into a beautiful banana cream pie and seeing bananas that have blackened already.
This recipe for Mini Banana Cream Pie solves all those problems. I make small, individual sized pie shells and keep the pastry cream and the whipped cream separate until ready to eat. That way, you don’t have to cut the bananas until the last minute. GENIUS! Even if I do say so myself.
I got the idea from a restaurant that serves little banana cream pies for two. The little pies got me thinking… if you can assemble a pie at the last minute… why can’t you travel with the separate components and assemble them anywhere?
Now, I can keep both kinds of families happy.
How To Make Pastry Cream
For some reason, pastry cream seems mystical… intimidating. It’s not, well, maybe a little.
Here is a quick Step by Step How to Make Pastry Cream.
Warm the milk over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the beans into the milk. Add the vanilla pod to the milk, as well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat.
Sift the sugar and cornstarch into the eggs yolks and beat with a whisk until they lighten in color and are thickened enough to form a “ribbon” when the whisk is lifted and the egg yolks fall back into the bowl.
Temper the egg yolks by whisking 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks and beat. Slowly pour the remaining milk into the egg yolks. Whisk continuously so that the eggs do not curdle.
Return the mixture to the pan and heat over medium heat until thickened. Do not boil.
Strain mixture though a sieve. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the pastry cream so that the cream does not form a “skin” on the top.
Keep the pastry cream chilled with the plastic wrap on the surface until ready to assemble the Mini Banana Cream Pies.
Making homemade pastry cream is not difficult, it is just a little confusing your first time—all that pouring of the milk mixture back and forth. The key is not to boil the milk after you mix the eggs into it.
You can use Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs if you are worried about the eggs. That way, you won’t have to raise the temperature of the eggs as high and risk scrambling them.
If you do happen to scramble the egg a little, use this nifty tip a chef taught me. Just put it in the blender and frappe.
- For the pie crusts:
- 12 graham crackers
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup pecans
- ½ cup white chocolate, chopped
- ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- For the pastry cream:
- 2 cups milk
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 large Davidson's Safest Choice Egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 large bananas
- 1 can caramel sauce (garnish)
- Whipped Cream:
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 ounces white chocolate, shaved
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare the pie crusts by breaking the graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the crackers are the size of large peas.
- Add sugar, cinnamon, pecans and white chocolate. Pulse again until mixture is like coarse sand.
- Drizzle in the melted butter and blend in evenly without over processing the graham crackers and fold in the mini chocolate chips (preferably by hand).
- Press the graham cracker mixture into ramekins or muffin cups. The crust should be between ¼ and ½ inch thick.
- Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the nuts are toasted and the chocolate is melted. Check frequently to make sure they don't scorch or burn. You will know they are done when you begin to smell the nuts.
- To prepare the pastry cream, pour milk into a sauce pan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk. Add the vanilla pods to the milk, as well. Bring milk to a simmer, immediately remove from heat and set aside to steep for 15 minutes.
- Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until the egg yolks thicken and lighten in color. Temper the eggs by pouring about ⅓ of the milk into the eggs mixture while whisking vigorously.
- Pour egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and return to medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is just about to boil. Quickly remove it from the heat.
- Stir in the butter.
- Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve.
- Pour the cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The plastic should touch the entire surface of the cream so that it does not form a "skin" while cooling. Set the bowl in an ice bath until cool and then chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour or over night.
- Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla to soft peak stage. Chill until ready to use.
- Assemble the Mini Banana Cream Pies:
- Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and spoon some of the pastry cream into the pie crusts.
- Slice the bananas over the cream.
- Drizzle with Dulce de Leche or caramel sauce.
- Top with whipped cream.
- Garnish with shaved white chocolate.
-posted by Sandy