I don't know who first conceived of the idea to make National Pi Day also National Pi(e) Day, but whoever they are, I want to get down on my knees and thank them for their brilliance. Truly, it's almost as clever as coming up with the original mathematical theory for figuring out the diameter of a circle itself and certainly a whole lot tastier!! Plus it gave me the excuse to try out this scrumptiously decadent Banana Butterscotch-Pudding Pie that I've had my eye on for a while now. The filling is creamy, luscious and almost caramel-like, perfectly smothering the banana layer below, the chocolate cookie crust adds just the right amount of crunch and do I really need to describe how delightfully those little clouds of whipped cream do their thing?! Ok people, let's hear it for that little irrational, infinitely decimal-repeating number! Go Pi!
I have to admit that my heart sank a little when I saw the finished results of this one--I mean, despite the whipped cream rosettes, it's not exactly the prettiest dessert out there but all that disappointment vanished with that first dreamy bite. Everything just goes so well together!
First there's the chocolate wafer crust which is perfectly crisp and duh, chocolate-y.
Then there's a layer of fresh, thinly sliced sweet bananas
Topped with a layer of golden brown almost toffee-like pudding that you will have to exercise supreme self control not to eat just as is, otherwise there will be none left for the pie!
And then the entire thing is topped with slightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream which you think would be overkill but somehow keeps all the rest of the layers from being too sweet or overpowering.
None of the layers are difficult to pull off (although you will need to wash a decent amount of bowls when all is said and done) and the end result is just different enough from ordinary banana cream pie to keep your tastebuds surprised. Even if geometry and math aren't exactly your favorites, this is one pi(e) you can really get behind!
Banana Butterscotch-Pudding Pie
Makes about 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus chilling and baking of crust); Chill Time: At least 3 hours
For the Crust
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate wafers (I used Nabisco Famous Wafers and ground them in the food processor)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 ripe bananas
For the Topping
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To make the Crust: Generously butter a 9 or 10-inch pie plate and set aside. Place the cookie crumbs and the sugar in a medium bowl and combine well. Add the melted butter and mix until all the crumbs have been moistened. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of pie plate in an even layer. Chill the pie for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and bake the pie for about 10 minutes, until it's slightly firm. Remove from the oven and transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
3. When the crust is nearly cool, you can start making the filling. Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is a thick liquid-y paste. Transfer to a large bowl and place a mesh strainer across the top.
4. Place the cornstarch into a small bowl and add a few tablespoons of the milk. Whisk the mixture together and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the rest of the milk and the salt,. When the milk is hot, give the cornstarch mixture another whisk or two to make sure it hasn't separated and whisk it into the hot milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs quickly and then pour a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper them. Whisk the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly. until the mixture begins to boil again and is very thick. Pour the mixture into the strainer sitting atop the brown sugar/butter mixture. You will have to push the mixture through with a spatula since it is very thick. Add the vanilla and use a whisk to mix well so that everything is smooth and combined. If there are some clumps of brown sugar, you can fill a bowl with hot water and place the bowl with the pudding mixture into it so that the heat helps to dissolve them as you whisk. Once the mixture is completely smooth, set it aside.
6. Peel the bananas and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Line the bottom of the crust with them. Pour the pudding over the bananas and smooth the top. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the pie. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until the pudding is very firm.
7. To make the Topping: Place the heavy cream in a cold bowl. Using chilled beaters or a whisk attachment, whip the cream on high speed until it begins to be solid. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until the cream holds peaks. Now you can either spread the cream across the pie or pie the cream decoratively around the edges. If you pipe the cream, you will likely have a lot of cream leftover which you can serve on the side. You can also decorate the top with extra banana slices, chocolate shavings or extra cookie crumbs. Keep the pie refrigerated until ready to serve.
8. Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz. I kept pretty close to the recipe but omitted the 2 teaspoons of rum from the filling and the 2 tablespoons from the topping 'cause we're not big rum fans.