When I was in London for a conference a couple of years ago (oh the days….), I kept seeing something called banoffee pie on desert menus.
I didn’t pay much attention to the offering mostly because in my head, banoffee translated into banana+coffee. Weird.
But then over the holidays during a rewatching of Love Actually, my interest was piqued when the Juliet character shows up at Mark’s (who will always be Rick in my head) house with a faux peace offering of banoffee pie.
Fine I thought, I guess I’ll see what all the fuss is about. First things first, banofee= bananas+toffee, a much more palatable notion than bananas+coffee. Usually the crust is made from digestive biscuits or graham crackers. The bake shell is then filled with dulce de leche. You can do store bought but making your own is even easier (recipe included below).
Then the creamy caramel is topped with a layer of sliced bananas and the whole thing is crowned with a cloud of whipped cream (in this case, laced with espresso…so I guess this really is bananas+coffee after all).
I was 100% ready to not like this. I was 100% ready to proclaim it cloying and too rich. I was 100% ready to stop eating it as soon as I could find something wrong with it.
Alas, I was 100% wrong. Banoffee pie is 100% delicious. The whole is aggressively better than the sum of its parts. Somehow the dulce de leche and bananas sort of melt together while the crust has just enough salt to cut through the sweetness. Really, you should make this.
makes a 9-10 inch pie
for the dulce de leche
12 ounce jarred sauce or, make your own (it’s very easy and cheap). If making your own, you’ll need a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
If you are making your own dulce de leche. Remove the label from the can. Submerge completely into a pot of water. Boil for about three hours making sure to top-off the water when it dips below the level of the can. Allow to cool completely before using. You can–and probably should–do this the day before.
For the crust. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine graham crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Press crumb mixture into a pie tin, gently coaxing the sandy mixture up the sides of the pan. I like to use a measuring cup to press the crumbs. Bake for about 15 minutes, until crumbs are set into a crust. Allow to cool completely.
Using an offset spatula, spread dulce de leche evenly into the bottom of the pie.
Slice bananas, one by one as you go and arranged slices tightly on top of the dulce de leche. Dulce de leche will be thick but press bananas into the caramel just a bit.
Pour cold whipping cream into a medium bowl. Add vanilla. With a hand mixer, beat cream until frothy. With the mixer still running, slowly add in sugar, espresso and salt. Whip until cream forms soft peaks that hold their form.
Spread or pipe whipped cream across top of bananas. Top with chocolate shavings. Keep in fridge.
Originally, I didn’t plan on giving these just sweet little cookies their own blog post. Originally, they were meant as a means to an ends for next week’s post.
As a result, I did not given them their photographic due. And for that I’m sorry. But, you can learn from my mistakes.
Do not underestimate the deliciousness of these humble crackers. Toothsome due to the wholewheat flour, satisfyingly crisp and just spicy enough to stand on their own, these grahams are quietly addictive.
The only thing that makes them better is pairing them with a hot cup of strong, black coffee.
Crispy Whole Wheat Graham Crackers
slightly adapted from Stella Parks in Bravetart
3/4 C (5 1/2 ounces) + 3 TBS sugar, separated
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 + 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, separated
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/4 C (3 ounces) golden syrup (I buy mine here Lyles Golden Syrup), sorghum, unsulphered molasses or honey.
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter at room temp
2 1/2 C (12 ounces) whole wheat flour plus more for dusting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3/4 C sugar, baking soda, salt, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, golden syrup and butter. Mix on low to moisten, then increase to medium and beat until somewhat light, roughly 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and add-in flour. Mix to form a soft ball (mine was somewhat sandy and just barely came together).
Scrape dough onto works surface and knead gently to form a ball. Divide in half. Use immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to one week. If using from fridge, allow to soften for 30 minutes to come to room temp before rolling out.
Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat to 350 degrees.
Mix together remaining 3 TBS and 1/4 tsp of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
Generously flour a large sheet of parchment and place one portion of dough in center. Pat into a 5X6 inch rectangle. Sprinkle with flour, flip and dust again. Working from the center out, roll the dough until roughly 15X11 inches and very thin. Slide parchment with dough onto baking sheet. Repeat with second half of dough.
Score each sheet of dough to desired sized crackers (for grocery store score each sheet into 12 2 1/4 by 4 3/4 inch rectangles and dock with a bamboo skewer (totally optional). Sprinkle each sheet with half of the sugar cinnamon mixture.
Bake until crackers are tawny brown and firm (finger may still leave a faint indentation), about 20 minutes. Immediately cut through along score lines. Cool to room tempt directly on baking sheets. Can be stored in an airtight container for you to 3 weeks at room temp or 3 months frozen.
First things first, there isn’t a recipe at the end of this post. Really, this is just a collection of pictures of work in progress.
A few years ago, after taking a baking course, I spent about a month playing with laminated dough. I was pretty successful, producing fluffy croissants and golden crusted pain au chocolat. But then the house got hot (summer) and I ruined not one but two really nice muffin tins attempting to make kouign-amann. I had to set this flakey dough aside for a while.
But, I’ve been meaning to return to it.
And finally did a month or so ago. Laminated dough is time consuming and fickle. So, I spread things out over a couple of weekends and took my time.
Over the first weekend I made Tartine’s croissant dough. I then split it in half and froze each half, double wrapped in plastic.
The second weekend, I allowed one of my half-batches of dough to thaw in the fridge and attempted Tartine’s famous morning buns.
Here is the thing. While the final product was delicious, I didn’t get much rise on the final proof. I wasn’t sure if this was because the house was relatively cool, or if the dough was overly laden with cinnamon sugar. Or if I’d failed the croissant dough.
What came out of the oven was caramely and definitely laminated. But, there wasn’t much dough development.
The buns looked more like puff pastry that croissant pastry.
The good thing is that I still have the other half of the dough in the freezer. Maybe next weekend…or next month…I’ll pull it out and try some croissants to get to the bottom of things.
I first heard mention of blender mousse on an episode of Samin Nosrat and Hrishi Hirway’s pandemic inspired podcast, Home Cooking. While I had to look up which episode the reference is in (Episode 4: Guess What? Chicken Butt is Delicious with special guest appearance by Yoyo Ma), I remember I was scrubbing the shower while listening to it. Oh lockdown fun.
Anyhow, Samin Nosrat was answering a question about desserts that can be made without an oven and she cited a recipe by Natasha Picowitz and appears in the New York Times.
Mousse. In a blender. Oh the novelty. So of course, I had to try it.
It’s a little like my favorite ganache recipe where blades (in this case, blender blades) pulverize the chocolate that is then melted with a sugar syrup (that also cooked the eggs) and whirled until everything is smooth as silk. The recipe is both genius and weirdly fun (it’s very satisfying to chop chocolate in the blender for some reason). Once the chocolate mixture is spun back down to room temp, it’s folded into gently peaked heavy cream.
Yes, you know and I know what comes next.
A few minutes of gently folding, David, and into the fridge. So easy. So, so delicious. I made this for Valentine’s dinner and we both devoured it.
Blender (though I’m sure your food processor would also work) Chocolate Mousse
adapted from New York Times
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C granulated sugar
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or roughly chopped
4 large eggs, room temp
1/4 C espresso, or strong coffee brewed and cooled
1/4 C light rum or liquer (I used Kahlua because I didn’t have Baileys)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a handheld electric mixer), whip the cream into soft, glossy peaks (about 5 minutes). Set aside in the fridge.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the sugar with 1/4 cup of water until dissolved. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, turn off the heat.
Add chocolate and eggs to the blender. Blend on medium-high speed while slowly pouring in the hot sugar syrup. This will melt the chocolate and cook the eggs. Keep the machine running until the mixture is extremely smooth, then steam in the espresso, rum/liqueur, vanilla and salt. Keep blending until the mixture has cooled to room temp, pausing to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed.
Fold 1 cup of the chocolate mixture into the chilled whipped cream until smooth. Then add the rest of the chocolate mixture to the cream mixture, folding until there are no streaks.
Pour into individual vessels and set in the fridge until firm, at least 1 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve chilled.