Banana-Cream Pie

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It may not be traditional Valentine’s Day fare but for those who want something different for their sweet tooth, we’ve found an authority on an old-fashioned favorite:  banana cream pie.

Jennifer Steinhauer is the LA Bureau Chief for the New York Times, and shares with us her love of this tasty treat – including a recipe and the best places to indulge in banana-cream pie.

Banana-Cream Pie

For the graham shell:
1 ¼ cup graham-cracker crumbs, about 10 or 11 whole crackers
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the pastry cream:
1 2/3 cups milk
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and reserved
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 ½ tablespoons butter

For assembly:

1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup crème fraîche
3 ½ medium bananas, sliced into 3/8-inch-thick rounds.

1. For the graham shell: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar. Add the butter and mix, first with a fork, then with your fingers, until the crumbs are moistened. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, using a flat-bottomed cup to press the crumbs evenly. The edges of the shell will be crumbly. Bake until lightly browned, 9 or 10 minutes. Cool completely.

2. Prepare the pastry cream: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cup sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer. Over a small bowl, sift the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the cornstarch. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and yolks.

3. When the milk comes to a simmer, discard the vanilla bean. Add the cornstarch mixture to the eggs and whisk until well combined.

While whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in about 1/4 of the milk. Transfer this mixture into the saucepan, set over low heat and simmer, whisking constantly, until it reaches the consistency of thick pudding. (Be careful not to curdle the eggs.) Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until incorporated. Pour into a shallow bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the surface and chill.

4. To assemble: Using an electric mixer or a whisk, whip the heavy cream and crème fraîche into peaks. Transfer the pastry cream to a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Fold in 1/2 cup of the whipped cream. Line the bottom of the cooled pie shell with a layer of bananas. Fold the remaining bananas into the pastry cream, then spoon it evenly into the shell. Mound the remaining whipped cream on top, swirling it decoratively. Chill and serve within 24 hours. Serves 8. Adapted from Clementine in Los Angeles.

Where to enjoy banana-cream pie in Los Angeles:

Urth Caffé
8565 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 659-0628

1751 Ensley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 552-1080.

8225 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 655-6566

11700 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 477-3524

House of Pies
1869 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 666-9961

Pie ’n Burger
913 East California Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 795-1123