Bananas Foster Cream Pie
Week Thirteen: Laissez les bons temps rouler Pie
One night, when I was a kid, my mom proudly trotted out her original Brennan’s cookbook (from 1961 no less) for some dinner company. “Tonight,” she declared, “tonight, I will make you the original Bananas Foster from the restaurant that invented it!”
Everyone oohed and aahed and looked on in eager anticipation as Mom prepared her infamous chafing dish. This being the same chafing dish used to cook eggs after a rather spectacular failed attempt to cook them in the fireplace during an extended winter storm black out — but that’s another story. She lit the flame underneath the dish and added the butter, sugar and carefully sliced bananas. Then, after pushing them around the dish for a few minutes, she produced, with a flourish, the rum. More oohing. Now we were going to see some action. She poured it in and with practiced theatrical flair, she lit the match. The room practically hummed with excitement. There was going to be actual fire, FIRE, right there on the dining room table. It was almost too much.
She showed the lit match to the room. Indeed, it was well-lit. She plunged it into the chafing dish and… nothing. Well, not nothing, the liquids actually put out the match. Needless to say, it was anticlimactic at best. Mom, confused but always a problem-solver, quickly assured the room that she simply hadn’t added enough alcohol. She added more rum, lit another match, we all edged forward in our seats and… nothing. No flame. Now Mom was stumped, but persistent, and added more rum. Another match. More nothing. And again. And again.
I’m not sure how many times she repeated this process, but by the time she stopped the chafing dish was floating at least half full with sadly unflamed rum. Well, it was about then that Mom gave up on the whole flambé thing and just suggested we have warm rum and bananas over ice cream when someone pointed out that the flame beneath the dish was a bit pathetic and ill-equipped to handle the task of heating all that rum. Mom agreed and solved this by sticking every candle she could make fit underneath the chafing dish, and soon she had a good rolling boil going.
Now my story wouldn’t really be worth telling if Mom had just stuck with the plan and served us some mock Foster, but, Mom, being human, thought she’d give it one more try. For those that don’t know, rum (or any alcohol) really flames best when it’s properly warmed. See, that’d been the problem all along, the rum was just too cold. Well, um, not anymore.
Ever see that Simpson’s episode where Homer puts 4 or 5 cans of lighter fluid on the grill then sets it on fire? It was pretty much like that. We’re lucky we didn’t lose the dog.
Anyhow, despite the fact that we almost lost our home, as so many do, in a tragic dessert-related fire, I still love bananas foster. So when my brother-in-law suggested I make a banana cream pie I thought, what the hell, I have insurance.
BANANAS FOSTER CREAM PIE
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers (about 9 crackers or 1 package)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 stick butter
Preheat oven to 350°.
Melt butter and thoroughly combine with crushed graham crackers and sugar in a medium bowl. Press mixture firmly onto the bottom and sides of a greased 9″ pie pan. Chill the crust for an hour before baking; bake for 10 minutes until the sides are a light golden brown. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare filling.
(from Brennan’s New Orleans Cookbook’s “Bananas Foster” — the original, natch)
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
2 ripe bananas, sliced into discs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 oz banana liqueur (can substitute with rum)
2 oz rum
Melt brown sugar and butter in a chafing dish or shallow saucepan. Add banana and saute until tender. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Pour on liqueur and rum and flame. Baste with warm liquid until flame burns out.
Strain banana from sauce/liquids and place in a bowl for assembly. Keep sauce in pan on stove (not on an active burner) to add to the custard.
Bananas Foster Custard
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
all Bananas Foster liquids/sauce
2 tbsp butter
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Slowly whisk in milk, constantly stirring until it’s steaming and slightly thickened.
In a separate bowl slowly pour about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks by whisking constantly. Whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture; stirring continuously. Switching to a heat proof spatula, stir in the butter and sauce and continue to cook until mixture thickens. At first the mixture with become quite lumpy, keep stirring and eventually it will smooth out and thicken to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat and refrigerate for 30 minutes until cooled but not set.
1 medium banana, sliced into discs
Cover prepared shell with banana slices, then cover with cooked bananas from the Bananas Foster. Fill remainder of pie shell with cooled custard. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
Whisk together whipping cream, vanilla and sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form (frosting consistency). Pipe or spread onto finished pie to decorate as desired. Sprinkle cinnamon on top to finish.