As it often happens, I’ll be dining out at a restaurant and love something so much that I want to recreate it at home (case in point, my super favorite Pita Jungle cauliflower and tahini)! This banoffee pie is no exception, but I had no idea it would be so easy to create. It barely requires any cooking at all, and can be ready to eat in under 2 hours! I first tried this lovely dessert at one of my favorite Phoenix-area restaurants, Cornish Pasty Co. (try the Royale with Cheese — you won’t be disappointed) They serve British comfort food at its finest! I order the banoffee pie almost every time I go (ditto to their amazingly good spinach, walnut, and mushroom soup!).
The first time I ever even heard of the classically British banoffee pie was a very brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene in the movie Love Actually when Keira Knightley’s character mentions it as testament to her terrible taste in desserts. She spoke so quickly that for a long time, I had no idea what she even said. I did a little research and found out that banoffee pie is a crumb-crust pie with sticky caramel-y brown sugar toffee filling, fresh sliced bananas, and whipped cream — banana and toffee, hence the portmanteau of “banoffee”! The toffee filling is so sticky sweet that the crust and whipped cream are virtually unsweetened. Traditionally, digestive biscuits are used to make the crumb crust, but I thought I’d change it up a bit and use crushed pretzels. The crust is formed almost identical to any graham cracker crust would be, then the toffee mixture is cooked very quickly, poured into the crust and left to chill in the fridge. After that, all that’s left to do is cover the toffee with fresh unsweetened whipped cream, slice up some ripe bananas and arrange them on top of the massive pillow of whipped cream, and call it a day.
banoffee pie with pretzel crust
(recipe modified from this perfect UK version)
5 1/2 c (250 g) crunchy mini pretzel sticks
12 Tbs (1 1/2 sticks / 168 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
7 Tbs (100 g) dark brown sugar
7 Tbs (100 g) unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 – 14 oz (396 g) can sweetened condensed milk
5 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 c (1 pint) heavy cream
To make the crust: Throw the pretzel sticks into a large food processor and process until the pretzels are in very fine crumbs, with a mixture of totally pulverized crumbs and slightly larger crumbs. This should yield about 2 cups of pretzel crumbs. Dump them into a bowl and stir with the melted butter and cinnamon. Pour this mixture into a fluted 9 x 2 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan using your hands or the bottom of a dry measuring cup, flattening the top crust edge flush with the edge of the pan. Set in the fridge to chill while you make the toffee.
To make the toffee filling: In a small sauce pot, heat the brown sugar, butter, and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the sweetened condensed milk and continue cooking, stirring the whole time, until the mixture is bubbling and thick, 3 – 4 minutes. Grab the crust from the fridge and pour the toffee filling into it, smoothing with a spatula. Return the pan to the fridge and let chill for at least an hour.
To assemble the pie: Once the toffee has solidified and the whole pie is cold, pour the heavy cream into a stand mixer and, using the whip attachment, whip the cream on medium speed until medium-firm peaks form. Give the finished whipped cream a gentle stir with a spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl to make sure any under-whipped cream is thoroughly mixed in.
Carefully lift the chilled pie out of the edge of the tart pan, keeping the pie on the pan’s base. Place the pie on a large plate and gently spread all of the whipped cream over the top of the chilled toffee layer. Slice up the ripe bananas and arrange them evenly over the top of the whipped cream.
You now have your very own pretzel-crusted UK-style banoffee pie! The only thing left to do is cut yourself a wedge and eat it up. This pie will keep well covered loosely with plastic wrap for up to three days in the fridge, though the banana slices might brown up a bit before then. Eat it quickly — it probably wouldn’t last three days, anyway.