Monday, January 21, 2013

Recipe: Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie from Baked Explorations

I volunteered to bring dessert to our friends' New Year's dinner party. I opted for a maple bourbon cheesecake, but alas, the drawback of finding recipes on random blogs via pinterest is that sometimes the instructions stink. This led to a, shall we say, less than beautiful cheesecake.

We had little time and an ugly as all get out cake, so after I stomped about and had a bit of a hissy fit, my darling hubby stepped in to save the day by heading back to the grocery store to get me ingredients for something else.

The guys behind Baked know how to make a gorgeous and delicious dessert, so I eschewed Pinterest and went old school with an actual cookbook - Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.

Banana cream pie is surely one of the most delicious and comforting desserts out there, and peanut butter is such a divine combo with bananas, so I knew this recipe was certain to blow the maple bourbon cheesecake out of the water. And sure enough it did. It was easy to prepare, appealing to look at and just as heavenly as it sounds!

The crust was simple to make and a classic accompaniment for banana cream pie. The vanilla pudding is very subtle and would also be good on its own. The peanut butter icing is pure bliss and may have compelled me and the Mr. to lick the bowl and beaters clean. It would make a great icing for other desserts as well, such as chocolate cupcakes.

Turns out my cheesecake actually tasted pretty good, too, despite its uggo appearance, but this was the clear star of dessert. Yum!

From Baked Explorations (Instructions below adapted from Epicurious)

Vanilla wafer crust:
6 ounces vanilla wafer cookies
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sugar

Vanilla pudding filling:
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 firm but ripe bananas, peeled, divided
3 tablespoons orange juice, divided

Peanut butter layer:
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
Purchased chocolate covered peanuts (optional)


For vanilla wafer crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in processor; blend until mixture resembles moist crumbs, about 1 minute. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish and press mixture onto bottom and up sides of dish. Mine was a bit uneven, but this is a rustic enough dish that perfection is not required. Bake crust until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Mine took quite a bit longer than 12 minutes, so it could be up to 17 minutes. Remove from oven; press crust with back of spoon if puffed. Cool crust completely.

For vanilla pudding filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in cream, then milk. Add yolks and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; whisk to blend. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until pudding thickens and boils, about 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Spread warm pudding in cooled crust. Chill until filling is cool, about 1 hour.

Thinly slice 3 bananas on diagonal. Combine banana slices and 2 tablespoons orange juice (this will keep them from browning) in medium bowl; toss to coat. Transfer banana slices to paper towels and pat dry. Arrange enough banana slices in single layer over vanilla custard filling to cover completely.

For peanut butter layer:
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter. Beat cream in another medium bowl until firm peaks form. Fold large spoonful of whipped cream into peanut mixture to loosen, then fold in remaining cream in 2 additions. Spread peanut butter layer evenly over bananas. Chill at least 3 hours. Can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

Thinly slice remaining banana on diagonal. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, then pat dry with paper towels. Arrange banana slices around top edge of pie. Arrange chocolate covered peanuts around edge of pie, if desired, and serve to great acclaim!



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