It's been a looooong time since I participated in Club Baked, a group of bloggers that are baking their way through Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. I don't know how someone so excited to join such a group could just let it go. I could make excuses, but I won't. Let's just say I was a bad girl. I needed to get my priorities straight. Imagine my surprise when I realized that, even though Club Baked has gone on without me and the group had baked a lot of the recipes in the book that I was most interested in, there were still a lot of great recipes to try. When I checked things out recently, I noticed that Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie was up next.
Now, I was familiar with this pie. I'd seen it featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay a few years ago. Since I am a big fan of Matt and Renato, I was very displeased when they lost the Throwdown. Not surprising, however, because their version of banana cream pie is not what you'd expect. It's not the classic banana cream filling topped with whipped cream, it's more like banana pudding meets fluffy peanut butter. Both pies are wonderful, and I was happy to try out Baked's Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie.
Preparation started many days before I was going to make the pie. Yes, I purchased all the necessary ingredients that I did not already have, like the Nilla Wafers for making the crust, the small block of cream cheese, the bananas. I already had some Penzeys vanilla beans for making the vanilla pudding layer, and this house is never without peanut butter. I put a Post It note on the bananas, "Save 4 bananas for pie" so they would not get eaten. When the bananas were the stage of ripe that I like, nicely spotted but still relatively firm, I made the pie.
The first step was making the crust, which is made from Nilla Wafers, butter, and a little bit of sugar. The crust is baked, then set aside to cool while the banana pudding filling is made. I was a little nervous about making the pudding, but the vanilla bean had me at hello when I split it open and scraped the seeds. Vanilla extract has nothing on real vanilla beans. When the cooked vanilla pudding was done, I poured it into the cool crust. Then I licked the spoon. Then I swooned. Then I licked the spoon again. Then, even though I am lactose intolerant and this pudding is made with whole milk and heavy cream, I got out a spatula and got every last bit of that pudding out of the saucepan and into my belly. Then I got a clean spoon and, risking stomach discomfort, took a dip out of the pie for another taste test of the pudding. Seriously, it was all I could do not to bury my face in it.
I put the pie in the refrigerator to chill. Matt and Renato's recipe has the baker slice a few bananas and toss them in a little orange juice to prevent the bananas from turning brown (lemon juice works, too.)
I put the sliced bananas on top of the luscious vanilla pudding, then made the peanut butter topping, which is simple. It's just a little cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar blended with a mixer. The next step is to beat some heavy cream until it's whipped, then gently fold the cream into the peanut butter mixture until it's smooth, creamy, and uniform in color. (Doing this a little at a time is best.) The peanut butter layer is then spread over the bananas, and the pie should chill for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours.
We could not wait that long. Because of the time of day that I started making this pie, we had this as a late evening snack, and it had only chilled for about 2 hours. Before serving, 1 more banana was sliced and tossed in OJ and placed around the outer edge of the pie. Since it had not chilled as long as it should have, our first slices of pie were soft and maybe a little extra messy, but that did not affect the flavor or the reaction of the taste testers. My son Ryan promptly called it the best dessert ever. My daughter Katie also loved it. I was not going to let my lactose problem stop me from eating this pie, so I took a Lactaid tablet and got my fork. The pie was wonderful; creamy vanilla pudding and soft bananas, topped with this wonderful fluffy peanut butter cream. I really enjoyed the banana and peanut butter combination. This recipe won't exactly suit your needs if you want a conventional banana cream pie, but it is definitely a wonderful pie that is worth making, over and over again. And making a double batch of the vanilla pudding isn't a bad idea, either!
Today's Club Baked recipe is hosted by Natalie of Just About Food. Other posts about this Club Baked recipe will be posted here.