Shawna Dawson is Sauce|LA , co-founder of the LA Street Food Fest and creator of Artisanal LA , coming soon to downtown LA.
The happy result of falling in love with a Brit has been many trips across the pond and plenty of opportunity to shed my misconceptions of bland British food, discovering cookbooks and shopping local markets. Despite lacking a sweet tooth, one of my burgeoning affairs was with the amazing chocolate bars and gorgeous sweets. Among them, the seemingly ever-present banoffee puddings.
The first Banoffi Pie was whipped up in East Sussex, England’s Hungry Monk Café in 1972 with shortcrust and coffee to cut the sweetness of the thick, chewy toffee filling, but the beauty of this no-bake pie is the liberty you can take with it. My version keeps the coffee and includes a biscuit crust and some of that coveted chokkie. Once you get the toffee making down, the variations are endless and it’s a cinch to throw together. If you’re a banana pudding fan, this may just be a new fave.
What You’ll Need
9″ round pie dish
6 bananas (3 sliced lengthwise for the filling plus 3 sliced in rounds for the topping)
3 Toffee Crisp or Crunchie candy bars
1 can dulce de leche (made from 1-14oz can of sweetened condensed milk)
1-14oz package digestive biscuits
6 tbls butter
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp instant coffee or espresso
Making the Dulce de Leche
Pre-made dulce de leche is easy to find in LA but nothing beats homemade, plus, it’s really nice to have leftovers to use on everything from ice cream to pancakes. This is the only time consuming part of the recipe and can be done in bulk days, even weeks, in advance. The traditional method involves boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk in a water bath for hours on the stove, but forgetting about them and letting the water evaporate can result in a hot, sticky, disastrous (not to mention dangerous) mess. My foolproof method is to submerge the whole unopened cans (as many as comfortably fit, labels removed) in a stockpot filled with water. Bring the uncovered pot to a boil on the stove, then remove from heat, cover and place in a 285 degree oven to cook for three and a half hours. Carefully remove the hot cans and allow to cool completely. This controlled method makes for less nail biting and more consistent results. Store extra cans for future use.
Making the Crust
In a food processor, pulse digestive biscuits until they turn to a nice crumb. Add butter and pulse a few more times to combine being careful not to over mix. Press the buttered crumbs into and up the sides of the pie dish and allow to set for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Note: Any digestives will do but I happen to like McVities and they’re easy to find along with the Crunchies and Toffee Crisps at Cost Plus World Market. If you find yourself with any remaining crumbs, reserve them for topping, or, keep to use with some oats in a fruit crumble.
Assembling the Pie
Spread the dulce de leche over the set crust. Arrange slices of banana cut lengthwise on top of the dulce de leche pressing them up and into the sides, then onto the base. The banana’s natural curves make this really easy to do. With a sharp chef’s knife, chop up candy bars and sprinkle them over the bananas and dulce de leche reserving some for topping. Next, mix the teaspoon of coffee granules into the whipping cream and beat to soft peaks. Spread the coffee cream atop the layer of candy covered bananas. Finally, slice the remaining bananas into rounds on top of the pie and sprinkle with the leftover chopped candy bar.
The pie can be served immediately but it’s best after at least an hour in the fridge to set. Cheers!