Banoffee = Banana and toffee. Those two elements are very delicious together, soft and unctuous indeed, only improved further by the crunchy texture of the sweet crust, and airy-cool vanilla-bean whipped cream, sprinkled all over with shredded chocolate “snowflakes” for good measure. Light and decadent at the same time, it is the most heavenly and satisfying dessert I have had the pleasure of tasting.
I first tried this pie in Turks and Caicos, at a half English and half Italian owned restaurant called Magnolia’s. We go to that restaurant twice, maybe three times during our stay every year, partly because of this magnificent dessert. (And their coconut-curry shrimp) Upon my return home the last time, I contacted the restaurant by email for the recipe. I begged them, throwing roses at their restaurant, explaining that we are the most faithful appreciative patrons they have and that in frigid ol’ Canada , we don’t have Banoffee..at least not the way they do it sniff-sniff. They kindly obliged and sent it to me. Although, I chickened out when I read you had to boil cans of condensed milk to make dulce de leche (caramelized milk) . My husband said, “That can’t be”! My mom said, “I’m sure you have to open them first!” (BTW: Don’t do that) I was crestfallen and the project fell to the back burner. (I now learned that it is really ok to boil cans of condensed milk without your kitchen blowing up)
Then just a couple of weeks ago I saw April Bloomfield make a Banoffee pie on the Mind of a Chef (Netfilx). That’s it! I bought her cookbook and got busy. This is her recipe which I followed to the letter!
Suggestions before you start:
1) Make your dulce de leche in advance and store in the cupboard. It lasts for months according to Nigella Lawson’s web site.
2) Do not use overripe bananas, it doesn’t suit the dessert, unlike banana bread. As it remains in the fridge, bananas continue to ripen causing the taste to change and intensify – perhaps weirdly.
This dessert is best enjoyed the same day its assembled.
3) Store uncovered in the fridge. I stored mine in a cake carrier and the next day it created a lot of moisture in the container , “wilting” the whipped cream.
4) I like pastry and cake flour. I made two balls of dough, one with all-purpose and one with cake and pastry flour. The one made with the pastry flour was smoother and had a nicer feel to it.
5) Alternately, you can always make this dessert with a quick graham cracker crust to save time and it will taste amazing!
Here’s a short video of the process. Enjoy!
Special Equipment: a 10 inch fluted nonstick tart pan with a removable bottom; parchment paper
For the filling:
Two 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk, labels removed
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise – seeds scraped out with a knife and reserved
3 tablespoons finely grated bittersweet chocolate
For the crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (Cake/Pastry flour is best)
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces and chilled (Partially frozen is even better)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
Keep bowl and beaters in the freezer until ready to whip the cream
Chilling your butter cubes in the freezer for a bit will keep your dough colder as you process it.
Check out the pictures at the end to view the different steps and textures of the flour etc..
You can do this step the day before: Put the cans of condensed milk in a large pot and cover them generously with water.
Bring the water to a boil and boil for 4 hours. Be sure the water is boiling and the cans are covered with water the entire time (this is very important)—add more boiling water to the pot if the water level threatens to get too low.
Remove the cans from the pot and let them cool completely; keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. The result is amazing! :
Sift the flour into a food processor, and then add the sugar butter and salt. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Add the yolks and pulse until crumbly dough forms. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and lightly knead just until smooth.
Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cut the chilled dough into 2 or 3 large pieces and grate it on the large holes of a box grater.
Use your fingers to press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan to create an even layer, the bottom about ¼ inch thick and the sides about ½ inch thick.
Work swiftly you don’t want the dough to warm up too much. Gently prick the bottom here and there with a fork, and then pop the pan into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Cut out a 13 in circle of parchment paper and line the dough with it. Fill the tart shell with raw rice or dried beans and set the pan on a baking sheet.
Bake the tart shell until the rim is light golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the parchment paper and the rice or beans and bake until golden brown all over about 15 minutes more.
Peel half of the bananas and slice them straight or on the bias into approximately ½ inch thick pieces. Starting from the outside and working your way to the enter, arrange half of the bananas in concentric circles on the bottom of the tart shell, so each piece overlaps slightly.
Gently dollop the caramelized condensed milk on top of the bananas, and spread it evenly over the slices. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill, up to 2 hours.
While the pie is chilling, combine the cream and the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Use a knife to scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream; discard the pod. Use whisk or a handheld electric mixer to whip the cream to soft peaks. Cover it too, and chill in the fridge.
Peel and slice the remaining bananas. Add another layer of bananas over the caramelized milk.
Give the whipped cream a good, brief whisk, and then using a large spoon, dollop it over the pie until it almost completely covers the bananas.
Sprinkle the grated chocolate over the top.
Serve straightaway, when it’s still good and cold.