It's rainy and cold out today...as usual...and while that's nothing new, this recipe for Banana Cream Pie is! It's a new twist on an old favorite and at first I wasn't sure if I liked it...but it grew on me, with each bite, and each slice...until by the end of the pie I was wishing I'd made two. The mister, being a dessert racist (he only likes lite-colored desserts) is also very much a purist when it comes to the Holy Trinity of Pies...Banana Cream, Coconut Cream and Lemon Meringue...he doesn't like anything changed, he wants the same old pie the same old way year in and year out - so I expected him to hate this pie. And he did. As soon as I said, "Mexican Banana Cream Pie," the mister said, "No thanks." At least he was polite. But deep down inside, where the mister didn't know it, I knew he would like this pie. It has everything in it that he loves...light flaky pastry, bananas, sweetened cream, caramel sauce (Dulce de Leche) and just a hint of cinnamon. I didn't take his no for an answer, instead I cut him a piece and told him he could have a slice of cinnamon cream and bananas in pastry...and he bit...quite literally, into his slice of Mexican Banana Cream Pie, licked his lips and called it a winner.
My new favorite pie crust has to be this one - graham crackers, dry-roasted peanuts and butter...it's dang good! Sometimes graham cracker crusts leave me with a granola taste - but the peanuts take care of that - there's no granola taste whatsoever - nothing but buttery crunchiness which goes perfectly with the layer of Dulce de Leche, which is the base of the pie! Surprise! Buttery crunchiness with caramel! It's not a party in your mouth, it's a fiesta!
Fresh bananas are placed on top of the caramel, followed by whipped cream with a hint of cinnamon. It's delicious. Muy delicioso. But, just to make sure you hear Mariachi music in your head, the top of the pie is drizzled with more Dulce de Leche and topped with peanuts...how do you say BadaBing in Spanish?!?!
Give this one a try at your next fiesta...it's sure to bring a round of applause! One last pic...cactus leaves come with thorns/spikes/prickles...and to remove them it takes a steady hand and a good pair of pliers! I don't think I'll be buying them again...but they were very festive!
Mexican Banana Cream Pie - Adapted From Marcella Valladolid, Food Network
(Marcella Valladolid is one of my very favorite Food Network chefs...every recipe I've made of hers has been spot on...if you haven't tried any of her dishes - try this one, although I modified it, cutting the cinnamon in half and using salted peanuts in the crust - which I thought it needed. One of my very favorite recipes of Marcella's is this, which I make for special occasions - it's worth the time and calories!)
1 package graham crackers (about 9 whole crackers)
1/2 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, plus 1/2 cup chopped, for garnish
1 stick butter, melted
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup store bought Dulce de Leche (recommended: Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche), plus extra for drizzling on top of pie
3 medium bananas, sliced
For the crust: Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Add the peanuts and process until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until combined. Transfer the crust mixture into a 9-inch pie dish, pressing and forming the crust evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow the butter to solidify.
For the cream filling: Using a hand-held mixer, whip the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until fluffy with minimal lumps. Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon, whipping at low speed until just combined. Add the cream and whip to soft peaks.
To assemble the pie: Spread the Dulce de Leche on top of the chilled crust. Top with the sliced bananas, forming 2 layers if necessary. Pour the whipped cream on top and spread evenly to completely cover the banana layer. Refrigerate and chill until set, about 2 hours.
To serve: Top the pie with a 1-inch border of the remaining chopped peanuts. Warm the remaining Dulce de Leche in the microwave until melted. Drizzle the Dulce de Leche on top of the pie and serve. Serves 8.