Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

I think this recipe could use a little tweaking in the future but is still good enough to post. The real winner here is the pastry cream--I am very happy with it and will use it again when needed. The problem stems from the topping. I was going for a whipped cream-esque topping like you see in this post (i.e. whipped coconut cream), but it never set in the fridge. Maybe my fridge is not cold enough. So, I added about 1/4 cup of sugar to the coconut cream, some vanilla extract, and whipped it like crazy until I got soft peaks. That was good enough, but not really the look I was going for. I also thought that it was far too heavy--maybe a small dollop on each slice next time, or some other kind of topping (but I am not sure what). As for the pastry cream, I went with agar flakes to help it to set. While I usually try to avoid hard to get ingredients, I really think this was the right call here. If you don't have agar, just Google "vegan pastry cream" and check out some of the other recipes out there. I also really have to advocate the vanilla bean here for superior flavour. Expensive but totally worth it.

- 1 pre-baked 9" pie shell
- whipped coconut cream (i.e. the fat from a can of coconut milk left in the fridge for a day, whipped with sugar and vanilla extract)
- 4 bananas, sliced
- 2 tsp orange juice
- 1 tsp Grand Marnier (or just another tsp of orange juice)

Pastry Cream

- 2 cups plain soy milk, divided
- 1 tsp agar flakes
- 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- pinch of tumeric (optional)
- 1 tbsp margarine

1. Bring 1/2 cup of the soy milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, sprinkle agar over top, and set aside.
2. Bring 1 cup of the soy milk (not the stuff from step 1) and the vanilla bean/scrapings to bubbling over medium heat in a saucepan. While it is heating, whisk the sugar and cornstarch (and tumeric, if using) together in a medium bowl, then whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk. When the soy milk on the stove is bubbling around the edges, remove the vanilla bean and slowly whisk it into the sugar/cornstarch/soy milk mixture.
3. Return the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat, add the soy milk/agar mixture, and bring to bubbling, whisking constantly. Cook for 2-3 mins, or until the agar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in margarine. When thickened, pour into a clean bowl (pour through a sieve if the vanilla bean left any chunks behind) and cover with plastic wrap to prevent that scummy layer from forming. Poke a few holes in the plastic wrap to let the steam escape. Let sit to cool to room temperature.

To make the pie:
1. Toss the banana slices in the juice and Grand Marnier. Pour half of the pastry cream into the pie shell, then layer all the banana slices on top. Top that with the remaining pastry cream and smooth out the top. Top with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to fully set (this will take a few hours).
2. When ready to serve, remove from fridge and top with coconut cream.

This is a pie you can make the day before and let sit in the fridge. It really does taste fabulous the next day.