These past couple of weeks have been unimaginable. But in light of all of this craziness, I think it’s important to take a step back and focus on something other than the media, to calm ourselves from the anxiety of it all and reconnect with what it means to be human. With the bars and restaurants closed in an attempt to social distance, we couldn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the traditional way this year, but I was able to use some ingredients that I had stocked in my pantry to put together a simple yet classic Irish dessert (and one of my favorites): Banoffee Pie.
The first time I had this pie was back in 2011 when I was studying abroad in Ireland with my university. We were staying at a castle in a small town in the countryside, when our host Mary made us this delicious pie for dessert one night. I had never heard of it, let alone tried it. I loved it so much that I later reached out to her asking for the recipe. Although I ultimately was never able to reconnect with her, I never forgot that pie (her baking was something special!). However, I never tried my hand at it until years later in 2015. At that time, my version was pretty good, but not as good as Mary’s. A couple of years later I posted about it on my blog, but I felt that the recipe was overall lacking. Well, five years later and I’m wondering as to why it’s taken me so long to make it again. It sure is worth it! I put all of the things I love about a Banoffee Pie together, and I think this recipe is almost as good as Mary’s.
My story goes to show exactly what this pie is… memorable. How else would I be able to love a dessert that I’ve only had twice before in my life? The original one I had tried had used Irish shortbread biscuits for the crust, but the next best thing in America is graham crackers, which I’ve used in my recipe here. The graham cracker crust is homemade (it’s easy!), and it’s topped with a dulce de leche filling, sliced bananas, espresso whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. Get it? Banoffee… bananas and toffee (and coffee?). It’s SO good!
So, this is my way of celebrating my Irish ancestry this year. I hope that someday we will all look back and say, “Remember in 2020 when we had to work from home and the country shut down? That was wild…” But for now, we’ll bake and social distance! Happy St. Patricks Day everyone <3. Sláinte!
Graham Cracker Crust
1 ½ cups finely ground cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
⅓ cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
Dulce de Leche Filling
1 large can (30 oz) sweetened condensed milk
6 yellow bananas, not overly ripened
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons coffee or espresso
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
- Graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until well blended. Press into an 8-9 inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7 minutes, then let cool.
- Dulce de leche filling: Bring oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a baking dish, then place that baking dish in a larger baking dish. Fill the larger baking dish with boiling water until it reaches half way up the sides of the smaller baking dish, then place in the oven. Alternately, you can pour hot water into the larger baking dish after placing the baking dishes in the oven. Bake the sweetened condensed milk for 2-3 hours at 400 degrees F until desired color is achieved. During the cooking process, refill the larger baking dish with hot water as it evaporates. Remove from the oven and whisk the mixture until smooth. Congratulations, you’ve made dulce de leche!
- Assemble: Pour the hot dulce de leche onto the graham cracker pie crust. Let it cool to set at least 4 hours. Sprinkle the top with kosher salt. Slices bananas and toss lightly with a dash of lemon juice to prevent browning. Top the caramel with the banana slices. Make the whipped cream by whisking together heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and coffee until soft peaks form. Generously dollop the whipped cream on top of the bananas. Shave chocolate over the whipped cream, and enjoy!