banoffee pie

When my son was just a couple weeks old, I was feeling well enough in body and spirit to tackle the kitchen. As satisfying as Berger cookies are, my sweet tooth craved more. And we had reached a period where I could count on naps occurring frequently and somewhat predictably. So I took a few baby steps into the kitchen, starting with refrigerator cookies, rum balls, and icebox cakes. Cookies were easy; I could prepare the dough during one nap, refrigerate the dough until the next nap, and bake them during the next nap. Icebox pies were similarly easily and nap-friendly. There was nothing complex to them, and they felt a little more sophisticated than just eating slightly sweetened, freshly whipped cream and berries.

When I was feeling a little more ambitious, I revisited a recipe I had clipped and  saved: Saveur’s classic banoffee pie. “Banoffee” is a portmanteau of the two main ingredients, bananas and toffee. I had tried making banoffee pie a few times already, with mixed results:

 

Apparently it’s a classic dessert in the UK, and my husband had fond memories of banoffee pie. However, I had never had it, and only recently have I seen it on a menu at a restaurant (more on that later). So I had nothing to compare it to personally, and I was relying on my husband’s memory to guide me. And I think we all know the difficulties in trying to recreate a childhood memory in the kitchen.

That said, the Saveur recipe is pretty amazing, childhood memories be damned. I can’t speak to its authenticity, but does it matter if it’s authentic, as long as it tastes good? There are no seasonal ingredients, so you can make it anytime. There’s minimal measuring if you use the standard sticks of butter, cans of condensed milk, and sleeves of Digestives.

A few notes:

  • Some people recommend making toffee by immersing the entire unopened can of condensed milk in boiling water for hours. I’m opposed to heating up a closed system, so I prefer the Saveur method.
  • I add a little espresso powder to the toffee for added depth. I also cut back on the brown sugar a bit.
  • I like to add some bananas to the layer of toffee before refrigerating – if you’re using really soft, ripe bananas, they kind of melt into the toffee layer instead of sitting on top.
  • A graham cracker crust will do (and if you use a prepared graham cracker crust from the store, I won’t tell), but we use Digestives as tradition dictates. You can even find them at Target! 
  • I once topped the crust with a coating of melted chocolate and let it cool before adding the toffee. It added to the candy bar feel.
  • A nut flour crust would be great with this, and you could sprinkle the top with nuts (again, breaking with tradition, but it would fit right in with this toothsome treat).
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