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Banana Cream Pie

Everything is better with caramel. When making this pie, I love caramelizing both the pastry cream and bananas to contrast the crust and unsweetened whipped cream. Don’t be afraid of caramelizing sugar. All you need is a pot or pan with a heavy bottom and a watchful eye. You’ll notice that your caramel will be smoother if you don’t stir it. (I know this is hard, but the reward is worth it!)

This is a great dessert for little ones—it's very soft and easy to swallow, and has kid-friendly banana flavor.

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Ingredients

Pie Crust

3 cups flour (unbleached and organic when possible)

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

12 ounces butter, very cold and cut into small squares

1/3 cup water, very cold

Caramel Pastry Cream

8 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste or extract

Caramelized Bananas and Whipped Cream

1 banana

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup cold heavy cream

Directions

1. To make the pie crust, place the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times.

2. Add the butter and pulse just until small pebbles form. We like to "pan for gold" and see how our butter is sized. You want the pieces to be about 1/4 of an inch big.

3. Add the ice water and pulse just until a crumbly dough comes together. If needed, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough forms.

4. Remove from the food processor (carefully!) and form a flat disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour (or 20 minutes in the freezer).

5. Flour your work surface liberally. Place your disc on the floured surface and begin rolling from the center of the dough up, then from the center down. Rotate your disc a quarter turn and repeat. This will help to keep your dough in a round shape and ensure that it isn’t sticking to your surface.

6. Roll your dough in a shape 2 inches larger than your pie pan (you can use 1 large 12-inch pan or 6 smaller 4-inch pans—either way, there'll be dough left over). Pick up and gently lay the dough into the pan. Cut, crimp or use the tines of a fork to create a decorative edge.

7. Freeze your dough for 10 minutes. Take it out and place a sheet of parchment paper, foil or cupcake liners over the crust. Fill this with pie weights, rice or dried beans and bake blind (with pie weights and no filling) at 375 degrees until dark and golden on the edges.

8. Next, start on the caramel pastry cream. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and the 2/3 cup sugar. Add in vanilla (or any other flavoring) and flour. Whisk for another minute until smooth and set aside.

9. In a medium saucepot, sprinkle the 1/2 cup sugar and turn the heat to medium. Slowly melt the sugar until it becomes an even, golden color.

10. Once your caramel is golden, slowly pour in your whole milk. It may clump up- don’t worry! Keep stirring with the heat on until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot

11. Add half of the milk to the egg mixture, whisking for a few seconds.

12. Stir the egg/milk mixture back into the pot and stir the contents over medium heat until it thickens. It should feel almost as thick as pudding.

13. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Spoon into your large or several smaller pie shells you’ve already baked.

14. For the caramelized bananas, cut your banana into 1/2-inch slices.

15. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a skillet and turn the heat to medium. Allow the sugar to melt, and once nearly half of it has, stir gently until it is even.

16. Place your banana slices on this caramel. Allow them to sit in the sugar for 30 seconds. Flip the bananas and cook another 30 seconds. Lift the slices with a small metal spatula or knife and allow them to cool on a plate.

17. To make the whipped cream, using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Spoon over caramel pastry cream and top with caramelized banana slices.

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