Black bottom toasted milk banana cream pie

banana cream pie

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.

Baker’s notes:

  • 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.
banana cream pie unsliced

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

To assemble:

  • 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.

banana cream pie slice out

Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Loaf

Note: This post contains affiliate links.
lemon poppyseed

When the dazzle of the holidays has faded and January begins to fully assert herself, thank God for citrus. The bright color and sharp taste of citrus fruits is one of the few things I look truly anticipate in the often-gloomy winter months. In other words, it’s the perfect time for lemon poppyseed cake.

I have a lemon poppyseed loaf in my cookbook, but I’ve been on an almond flour kick lately and wanted to bring that to the party this time — almond + lemon is a beautiful combination, and almond flour produces baked goods that are remarkably tender and long-lasting. I also wanted a loaf that would perfectly fit a Pullman pan for some sexy square slices, because let’s be honest — we all need a little excitement this time of year.

This recipe takes inspiration from Melissa Clark’s version of Lindsey Shere’s famous almond cake. I loved her use of a DIY almond paste because even though I have a very well-stocked baking pantry, even I never keep almond paste on hand. I do, however, always have almond flour, icing sugar, and egg whites around so there you go!

Partway through researching and planning out this recipe I also realized Tartine has a lemon-almond poppyseed tea cake in their first cookbook; and its proportions are remarkably similar to Shere’s/Clark’s. I’m not sure if there’s some shared inspiration there or just a matter of great bakers thinking alike, but it’s worth mentioning.

From my own lemon-poppyseed recipe development in the past I knew that the triple threat of lemon zest, lemon oil, and lemon soak (with fresh lemon juice, please!) was key to a lemon flavor that sings. If you’re always disappointed with not enough lemon flavor, do not skip the lemon oil. It is worth the investment and easy to source online or at baking supply stores. We also do not skimp on the poppyseeds because I don’t understand lemon poppyseeds that contain 1 or 2 tsp of seeds per loaf. Three full tablespoons, plus more for garnish if you like.

You’ll also be rewarded if you let this loaf cake rest overnight before tucking in. I know, it’s a lot to ask. But that bit of patience allows the syrup to fully soak in and make for a perfectly tender and m-m-moist loaf that will last you a week, if you let it.

lemon poppyseed loaf

Baker’s notes:

  • I scaled this recipe specifically to fit my 9x4x4 pullman pan. Without having tested it I am fairly certain it will fit in a standard 9×5 loaf pan (it will be too much batter for an 8.5×4.5). If you do use a regular 9×5 loaf pan, just leave ~3/4″ at the top (this loaf doesn’t rise too much) and bake off any extra batter as cupcakes, and check for doneness a little sooner as the increased surface area may shave a few minutes off the bake time. And let me know if you try it!
  • Pro tip: even if your recipe only calls for citrus juice, always zest the fruit beforehand! Store the zest in an airtight container in the freezer and your future self will thank you.
  • Always store your poppyseeds in the freezer and check that they’re still good before baking with them. They go rancid remarkably fast.

Lemon Almond Poppy Seed Loaf

Makes one 9x4x4 pullman loaf | Inspired by Baked to Order, Lindsey Shere/Melissa Clark via the New York TImes, and Tartine


For the lemon almond poppy seed loaf:

  • 125g almond flour, preferably blanched and superfine
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 4g (1 tsp) kosher salt (I use Diamond Kosher)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2-3 lemons; save the lemons for the syrup and glaze)
  • 1 large egg white plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature and divided
  • 3/4 tsp pure lemon oil (I use Boyajian)
  • 3/4 tsp pure almond extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)
  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 125g all-purpose flour
  • 27g (3 Tbsp) poppyseeds 

For the lemon soaking syrup:

  • 50g lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 50g granulated sugar

For the lemon glaze:

  • 120g icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Poppyseeds, for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven and prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Lightly spray a 9x4x4 pullman pan and line with parchment paper, leaving 2-3 inches of overhang on the long sides for easy removal.

Mix the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the almond flour, icing sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine. Add the egg white, lemon oil, and almond extract. Continue mixing until all the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture is beginning to clump but not a cohesive mass. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment.

With the mixer still running on low, slowly add the granulated sugar a spoonful at a time. This is to help keep the almond paste from clumping too much and ensure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating on low until the mixture resembles wet sand and does not have any large lumps, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle attachment.

With the mixer still running on low, add the butter a couple cubes at a time. Once all the butter has been added, add the baking powder. Turn up the speed to medium. Mix until light, fluffy, and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle attachment once or twice during mixing.

Crack all the eggs into a measuring cup with a spout and lightly whisk to combine. With the mixer on medium speed, stream in the eggs a couple tablespoons at a time, letting each addition absorb before adding the next. Patience here will help the batter emulsify properly and ensure a beautifully even crumb. Once all the eggs have been added, yep, you guessed it — scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle attachment.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and poppy seeds. Mix just until the flour has disappeared. Use a flexible spatula to gently fold the batter several times to ensure it’s evenly mixed. Make sure to thoroughly scrape the bottom of the bowl where pockets of flour like to hide. The batter should be thick and homogenous.

Scrape about a third of the batter into the prepared pan. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly into all the corners of the pan. Repeat twice more until all the batter has been added. Tap the pan firmly on the counter several times to settle the batter any dislodge any air bubbles. The pullman pan should be fairly full; this is normal.

Bake until the loaf is deeply golden and springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. A digital thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf should register 200F.

Make the Lemon Soak: While the cake is baking, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof container.

Soak the cake: When the cake is done, transfer the pan to a wire rack. Use a skewer to poke holes all over the top and brush generously with the lemon soak. Wait for about 5 minutes for the liquid to absorb, then brush on more soak, aiming to use about half the syrup. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully turn it out of the pan onto a clean piece of parchment paper set on a wire rack. Poke the bottom (now top) of the loaf with the skewer and brush the remaining syrup over the top and sides of the cake. Don’t be afraid to use all the syrup.

Let the cake cool completely before glazing. (For best flavor, I like to wrap the unglazed loaf in plastic once cool and rest overnight at room temperature, then glaze the next day right before serving.)

Glaze the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the icing sugar and salt. Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and whisk to combine. Add more lemon juice as necessary to obtain a thick but pourable glaze. Pour the glaze over the top of the loaf, using a small spoon to nudge it over the edges in places. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired. Let the glaze set for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

lemon poppyseed loaf side

Chewy brownie amaretti cookies

amaretti cookies
Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Happy new year! I thought I’d start out 2022 by sharing one of my favorite back pocket recipes, amaretti cookies. Amaretti are one of my favorite things to make when I have extra egg whites — they’re super simple to make, store well, and have a delightful chewy texture. If you love marzipan and/or almond-flavored bakes, you will love amaretti! They also happen to be naturally gluten and dairy free.

While classic amaretti never disappoint, here I’ve added a little cocoa and espresso powder for brownie-esque vibes. Go for a very good quality cocoa powder here — I like Cacao Barry Extra-Brute for its deep flavor. Likewise, make sure you use a pure almond extract that you love as its flavor is prominent in this cookie — I like Nielsen-Massey.

Amaretti get their signature crackles from a coating of icing sugar applied just before baking. As the cookie expands from the oven heat, the fissures that form contrast with the stark white of the icing sugar. I also like to toss the dough in a light layer of granulated sugar before the icing sugar, which gives the coating a little extra crunch.

I hope you enjoy these chewy brownie amaretti cookies. To me, they’re the perfect teatime treat and just the right size for satisfying a sweet craving. Enjoy!

amaretti with bite

Chewy brownie amaretti cookies

Makes 22-24 cookies


For the brownie amaretti cookie dough:

  • 180g almond flour, preferably blanched and superfine
  • 15g good-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I like Cacao Barry Extra-Brute), sifted if lumpy
  • 180g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 70g (about 2 large) egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar or 1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract

To finish:

  • 20g granulated sugar
  • 50g icing sugar, sifted


Preheat the oven to 325F with a rack in the middle. Line a large baking sheet (at least 1/2 sheet size) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and espresso powder until very well combined. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar or lemon juice, if using, in a spotlessly clean medium bowl (preferably glass or metal, not plastic). Using an electric handheld mixer (or a whisk and some elbow grease), whip on medium speed until soft peaks. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and whisk just until combined.

Add the egg whites to the dry ingredients. Use a flexible spatula to fold the two mixtures together. The dough may seem crumbly at first, but keep folding until homogenous and all the dry ingredients are moistened. You may need to use your hands towards the end. The dough should be stiff but a bit sticky.

Place the 20g granulated sugar and the 50g icing sugar in separate small bowls.

Using lightly damp hands or a small cookie scoop, portion the dough into small balls (about 20g each). Roll each ball into a sphere. Toss each ball first in the granulated sugar followed by the icing sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about an inch apart. The amaretti won’t spread much — you should be able to fit all the cookies on a single sheet.

Bake until cookies are lightly puffed and the tops are cracked and firm, about 25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before eating. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Make-ahead: You can freeze the unbaked dough balls before tossing in the finishing sugars. Place the dough balls in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze uncovered until firm, then transfer to a ziplock bag or airtight container. Bring to room temperature, then toss in the sugars before baking.