Monday, February 18, 2008
Sugar High Fridays: Banana Dreams
Rachel of Vampituity presented an incredibly, beautifully unique theme for this month's Sugar High Fridays (the once a month celebration of a themed dessert, created by The Domestic Goddess) - "pies that evoke your dreams!" Inspired by Pie Ranch (*see below), which helps adolescents realize their dreams through pies, this month's theme is a true testament to food as art - creating a pie representation of a dream.
As soon as I read the theme, I knew I wanted to bake one of my grandmother's pie recipes. I discovered my love of cooking through helping my mother and grandmother in the kitchen, and my very first kitchen memory is of helping my mother prepare Grandma's pumpkin pie recipe. From that day on, I was hooked - I've never forgotten that pure feeling of joy and comfort, sitting on the counter (I was too small to reach the counter-top!) beside the mixing bowl, stirring spices into the pie filling, somehow knowing, even as a small child, that this simple act connected the generations of our family in a gesture of love and caring as we created a dish to be shared. Grandma's pies are all classics - I contemplated her pecan pie recipe (which has now become my most-requested pie), the aforementioned pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, cherry-apple pie... The list continues almost indefinitely, but then, on Valentine's day evening, Zach mentioned that one of his favorite desserts was one his grandmother always prepared for him when he was small - banana pudding with Nilla wafers. Right there, I decided that, in the spirit of grandmothers' love and the continuation of recipes across the generations, I would create a pie variation on the classic banana pudding/cookie combo that holds so many memories. Because, you see, my dream is for everyone to be able to experience the joy of a family recipe, and the act of gathering together, in love, around the kitchen table.
Banana-Nilla Cream Pie with a Chocolate Oatmeal Crust
2 1/4 cups oats
½ cup raw sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
6 T light canola margarine, melted
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup raw sugar, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
approx. 1/2 box Nilla Wafers (or a similar vanilla-intensive cookie)
approx. 4 ripe bananas, sliced
~ Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
~ Combine all the crust ingredients, and mix well. Press into the bottom and sides of a pie pan, squishing firmly to create an 1/8" thick crust (you will probably have some crust mix left over, but it's wonderful for a variety of fillings, including cheesecake!).
~ Moving on to the filling, mix 1/2 cup raw sugar, the flour, and the salt together in a small saucepan. Add the 3 egg yolks, whisk until combined, then cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from the heat, and stir in vanilla.
~ Spread a small amount of the custard filling across the bottom of the pie crust. Cover with a layer of Nilla wafers, followed by a layer of bananas.
~ Pour half of the remaining custard over the bananas. Cover with another layer of Nilla Wafers, and another layer of bananas. Pour the rest of the custard over the bananas.
~ Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.
~ Spread the egg white mixture across the top of everything in the pie pan, making sure to seal the edges well.
~ Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 20 minutes - until browned. Refrigerate, and serve cool - topped with whipped cream!
*Please consider making a contribution to a non-profit helping to transform the world of food through pie - Pie Ranch. Please specify "Pie Ranch/Green Oaks Fund” in the "Designation" field of the online donation form (Pie Ranch is fiscally sponsored by the Rudolph Steiner Foundation) at: http://tinyurl.com/3bmn4c