The original banoffee pie is perfect as it is, but for this year’s Easter lunch I wanted to make something that was familiar and very welcome but also a bit different.
I’m hesitant to call this a straight-up chocolate banoffee pie because the chocolate doesn’t actually dominate in the way that such a name would suggest. The aim was for the chocolate to enhance the banana caramel filling, not compete with it.
Let me tell you, I still love white chocolate. Not necessarily that posh vanilla-speckled stuff by G&Bs but the kind bereft of cocoa butter and therefore isn’t actually white chocolate. Like, I used to polish off massive Milkybars during exam time. Yeah. Well. It’s that very particular powdered milk and cooked or cultured cream flavour which I love: possibly if you’re into condensed, evaporated, or UHT milk you might understand.
Roasting white chocolate until rich and brown is a way of amping up those milky flavours in quite a similar way to getting condensed milk to caramelise into dulce de leche. While it lacks dulce de leche’s wonderful lactic tang, caramelised white chocolate has got a real golden toasty warmth. The finished chocolate sets just enough so you can easily dig out of the jar with a teaspoon to make perfect crumbs. Milk chocolate peanuts are there just because I like peanuts with sweet things, particularly banana splits or coconut ice cream. (I admit, with no regrets, to eating the caramelised chocolate and chocolate peanut mixture by the spoonful. You’d do the same. Don’t lie to me.)
The chocolate pastry is just like a biscuit. I thought I didn’t get on with pastry recipes which begin with soft butter due to an earlier experience with collapsing walls, but this was surprisingly good. Getting myself into the mindset that I was making biscuits (cookies, that is) helped the dough turn out well for me. It’s a bit crumbly but easily patches up and bakes into a crisp chocolate base. It’s a good complement to the filling as it’s not too sweet. If you want to ensure the base stays crisp and really underscore the chocolate flavour, try sealing the baked pastry case with a very thin layer of melted chocolate.
I’m pleased with how this year’s banoffee pie turned out, lighter in texture than last year’s because I’ve had extra practise at pastry-making and chose to whip the cream by hand this time. While every component is rich and luxurious, it doesn’t feel leaden.
This is obviously both good and bad news; you can reflect on the pros and cons of the situation by making and trying a slice of pie, of course.
BANOFFEE PIE WITH CHOCOLATE PASTRY + CARAMELISED WHITE CHOCOLATE AND MILK CHOCOLATE PEANUT TOPPING
Adapted from Dowding’s original recipe and Lorraine Pascale’s chocolate banoffee pie in Green & Black’s Ultimate: Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection ed. Micah Carr-Hill (2010)
Makes a 23 cm pie, giving 8 – 12 slices. I made this 1 night in advance, cream included, and leftovers lasted another night. It came to absolutely no harm in the fridge, though the caramel oozed out of the cut slices.
A word about caramelising the white chocolate: For my jar, I used 200g G&B’s eating white chocolate for 1 hour at 120 degrees C and then about 30 minutes at 130 degrees C before I gave up. It got blond and marvellously toasty enough to be worth the effort, but still not as dark as I wanted. Do it how you like.
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
100g granulated sugar
125g softened unsalted butter
175g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
Good pinch of salt
397g can of dulce de leche (Carnation caramel)
Pinch of sea salt (optional)
3 – 4 medium bananas, nice and ripe
300ml double cream (more if you want it billowy)
Small handful of chocolate-coated peanuts
1 – 2 tablespoons scraped crumbs of set caramelised white chocolate (recipe here)
You will need a 23 cm loose-bottomed flan tin.
In a medium bowl, mix the egg, vanilla, and granulated sugar. Beat in the soft butter until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Fold gently, just until the mixture looks barely crumbly; use cool hands (rinse in cold water if needed) to gently form into cohesive ball. You might find that the seemingly dry mixture is surprisingly sticky and soft, but don’t add extra flour or cocoa. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the cool pastry out to a circle about 28 cm wide and roughly as thick as a pound coin (~3 mm). Transfer pastry on rolling pin to a 23 cm flan tin, draping and pushing the pastry so it comfortably rests in the tart tin. Press (but don’t stretch) the dough into the flute-edged flan ring and down into the base circumference. Cut off the obvious overhang. Take a small hazelnut sized ball from the excess pastry, roll it in flour, and use it to press the pastry lining right into the base circumference to create a neat circle. Do a final neat trim of the edges; I leave it just a few millimetres higher than the tin ring.
Chill the pastry base uncovered for about 15 – 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/180 fan.
Remove pastry base from the fridge with lightly crumpled baking paper and weigh it down with a good layer of dried grains/pulses/whatever. Bake pastry for 10 – 15 minutes or until the edges are just firm, then remove the paper and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes until base is also firm and sandy to the touch, gently pricking with a fork if it puffs during baking. (Yours may take longer; my darker bakeware cooks things a bit hotter and faster.)
Let the pastry case cool for about 5 minutes but no more before removing from flan ring, lest it becomes difficult to remove. I leave it on the metal base which I transfer to the serving platter. Let the unmoulded tart cool completely (about 10 - 15 minutes cooling time near an open window).
Spread pastry base with all of the dulce de leche; this should be a nice thick layer. Sprinkle caramel with a tiny bit of sea salt if you wish. Peel and split the bananas lengthways, trimming any bruised bits. Lay them on top of the caramel in a single very snug layer following the curve of the tin. You may have to chop the bananas into shorter pieces to get a good layer.
Whip the cream just until it softly holds its shape. Contrary to last year’s advice I now advocate doing it by hand with a balloon whisk: you have greater control. Spoon it over the pie, completely covering the bananas.
Put the chocolate coated peanuts into a plastic bag and crush to bits with a rolling pin or similar. You could also whack it in a pestle and mortar or whatever. Use a teaspoon to scrape the set caramelised white chocolate straight from the jar into little crumbs–it’s easy.
Sprinkle some of the crumbs over the top of the pie just before serving. Have extra crumbs in a little bowl for people to sprinkle over as they please.