Let’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t like raw bananas. So banana cream pie was never an appealing dessert option for me. Why choose something with mushy raw bananas when you could have apple, or pumpkin, or pecan, or pretty much anything else? But a few years back, my dad — who generally doesn’t like or eat sweets — mentioned that his favorite pie was, you guessed it, banana cream pie. And because the real reason I like baking is making my favorite people the things they like to eat, it was determined: I needed to make one.
After a couple of meh versions, I finally nailed my forever banana cream pie recipe this past Christmas. I present to you:
Black bottom toasted milk banana cream pie.
Let’s break it down. It starts with a black bottom layer (i.e. chocolate ganache), which adds flavor and texture and keeps the bottom crust crisp for days (if the pie lasts that long). Next is a toasted milk cream diplomat. Cream diplomat is just the term for pastry cream that is lightened with whipped cream and set with gelatin, which gives both airy-smooth texture plus a beautiful slice. We’ve talked about toasted milk powder before, and I thought its roasty, toasty notes would be the perfect flavor to enhance a classic banana cream pie. (It is perfect. My husband called it “a revelation.”) That’s all layered up with just-ripe bananas, then topped with a sour cream whipped cream. Sour cream adds both flavor and stability to the whipped cream so you can have the whole pie prepped a few hours in advance if needed. If you want your cream to have even more staying power (i.e. longer than 6 hours), you can add some gelatin as well.
Although I’m still never going to reach for a raw banana to quell my hunger, I thoroughly enjoy this pie. I hope you do too.
- For best combination of flavor and texture, choose bananas that are mostly yellow with just a little green. They should be sweet but still on the firm side.
- I’ve found that some brands of nonfat milk powder dissolve better than others. I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I’m guessing it has to do with the amount of moisture in the powder. To help it dissolve as best as possible, I recommend sifting in the powder to eliminate any lumps, then straining the pastry cream after cooking. Any bits that might remain after that seem to dissolve into the custard during the setting process. If you’re really concerned about it, you can try blending the powder with the milk on low before heating it.
- For a more classic custard filling, omit the toasted milk powder and increase the vanilla to 2 teaspoons (or add the seeds of a vanilla pod if you’re feeling fancy!)…
- But you should try the toasted milk powder.
Black bottom toasted milk banana cream pie
Makes one 9″ pie
For the toasted milk powder (makes more than needed for the pie):
- 150g nonfat milk powder
For the toasted milk pastry cream:
- 3g (1 tsp) powdered gelatin
- 18g whole milk (for blooming gelatin)
- 600g whole milk (for pastry cream)
- 60g toasted milk powder
- 125g granulated sugar
- 45g cornstarch
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
- 52g unsalted butter, cold and cut into quarters
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the black bottom chocolate ganache:
- 100g semisweet chocolate (I used Callebaut 54.5%), finely chopped
- 80g heavy cream (35% milk fat)
For the toasted milk cream diplomat:
- All of the toasted milk pastry cream
- 125g heavy cream (35% milk fat)
- 20g icing sugar
For the sour cream whipped cream:
- 3g (1 tsp) powdered gelatin (optional)
- 18g whole milk (for blooming gelatin) (optional)
- 250g heavy cream (35% milk fat)
- 60g full-fat sour cream
- 30g icing sugar
- One standard 9″ pie crust, blind-baked and cooled completely (I used the recipe from my book)
- 450g (about 3 large) ripe but firm bananas, sliced 1/4″ thick
- Grated chocolate, for garnish (optional)
Make the toasted milk powder:
Microwave method: Place the milk powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring with a fork after every burst, until the powder is deeply golden and toasty-smelling. (For me, this takes about 10 minutes’ worth of microwaving.) Cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature. (See tutorial on Instagram here.)
Instant Pot method: Place the milk powder in a 12-oz canning jar. Place a standard snap lid on top, then screw on the ring until finger-tip tight (i.e. lid should be sealed, but not too tight — if sealed too tightly, the jar may break during cooking). Put a trivet or steamer rack insert in the Instant Pot and add about an inch of water (the water line should stop just below the top of the trivet). Place the jar on top of the trivet. Seal the lid and cook on manual for 90 minutes. Allow pot to depressurize to release naturally. Cool completely before using. (See reel on Instagram here.)
Make the toasted milk pastry cream:
Place a strainer over a large heat-safe bowl.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over 18g cold milk and bloom while you prepare the rest of the pastry cream.
Off heat, pour 600g milk into medium saucepan. Sift in the toasted milk powder and whisk to dissolve.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk vigorously for about a minute until well combined and lighter in color.
Heat the milk over medium heat until steaming. Remove from the heat. Pour the milk in a slow, steady stream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Scrape the custard mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and large bubbles appear on the surface. Once the bubbles appear, turn the heat down to medium-low and continue whisking on the heat for 2 minutes.
Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Once the gelatin has dissolved, whisk in the butter one piece at a time, making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Whisk in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream into the prepared container. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the pastry cream and cool for 10 minutes, then place in the refrigerator and cool just to room temperature (about 45-60 minutes). Don’t let the pastry cream get too cold or the gelatin will start to set firmly, making it difficult to incorporate the whipped cream.
Make the black bottom chocolate ganache:
While the pastry cream is cooling, make the chocolate ganache for the black bottom layer. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-low, heat the cream just until steaming. Pour over the chocolate and let stand for two minutes. Gently whisk to form a smooth, shiny ganache. Scrape ganache into the bottom of the prepared pie crust and use a small offset spatula to smooth into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the cream diplomat.
Make the toasted milk cream diplomat:
Prepare this as soon as the pastry cream has reached room temperature. In a medium bowl, combine the heavy cream and icing sugar. Whisk to medium peaks. Whisk the cooled pastry cream until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream in two additions. Use immediately.
Assemble the pie:
Spread about 1/2 c of cream diplomat over the bottom of the pie. Add half the banana slices, cut side up, in an even layer. Smooth on half the remaining cream diplomat. Add the rest of the banana slices as before, followed by the rest of the cream diplomat. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. (I leave it uncovered but you can press a piece of plastic against the surface if you prefer.)
Make the sour cream whipped cream:
Thanks to the addition of sour cream, this whipped cream will hold nicely in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. If you need the cream to hold longer than that, I recommend adding the gelatin.
If using the gelatin — in a small, heat-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over 18g cold milk and bloom for 5 minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds until liquefied.
In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream, heavy cream, and icing sugar. Using an electric hand mixer, whisk just until the cream starts to thicken but is not quite holding soft peaks. Slowly stream the gelatin mixture into the cream while whisking constantly. Continue whisking to medium-stiff peaks. Immediately pipe or dollop the whipped cream onto the surface of the pie and garnish with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate uncovered until ready to serve.
Pie is best served within 24 hours. Store leftovers uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. After about a day the bananas will start to brown, but the pie will still taste good. The crust will progressively soften over time though the ganache helps to delay that.