Monday, 4 April 2011

Banoffee pie

The name 'banoffee' might be unfamiliar to you. It was certainly unfamiliar to me when I arrived in the UK. I thought I was in for something exotic the first time I heard of it, and then I realised that I was well acquainted with it, only under a different name. In fact, 'banoffee pie' is a silly name on two counts:
  • First of all, it isn't a pie at all, but a tart.
  • Secondly, banoffee is a contraction of 'banana and toffee', but there is no toffee involved. What there is, is caramel.
So, in fact, you may know this dish (as I did most of my life) as caramel and banana tart, which is a closer description of what you're getting.

Be all that as it may, this is how to make it.

You have a choice, here.
  1. You could make the crust out of crushed biscuit (cookie) crumbs and butter as in the fruit tart recipe, or...
  2. You could blind-bake a quick shortcrust case as I described in the milk tart recipe.
I usually go with the latter, and omit the sugar, because the filling for this tart is sooooo sweet, it needs a bit of balancing out (or a foil, as it's also known).

Filling ingredients
1 large (or 2 small) banana
1 tin condensed milk (or you could just buy a tin of caramel)
30ml or so of lemon juice
Whipped cream to decorate (optional)

Filling method
  • If you're using condensed milk, place the tin (unopened) in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Boil for 2 hours, topping up the water level every now and again as required. I tend to lay the can down on its side, so that it can roll around a bit with the movement of the bubbles. If you prefer to stand the can upright, turn it over about half way through the boiling process.
  • Set aside and leave to cool. If you try to open the tin while it's still hot, the caramel will squirt out all over the place (this is pure physics relating to temperature and pressure, but we won't go there, now)
  • Slice your banana quite thinly and toss well in lemon juice. This prevents the banana from going brown, so if you don't care about that, you can leave this step out.
  • Arrange the banana slices all over the (cool) crust.
  • Open the tin of caramel, and empty it out into the bowl with the lemon juice. Mix the two together. This will just take the edge off the sweetness, and ensures you don't waste the lemon juice after treating the banana. However, if you have an unlimited capacity for sweetness, you can leave the juice out. I would still give the caramel a stir, though, to make sure you have a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  • Spoon the caramel over the banana slices and spread evenly.
Just a tip: if you're using a baked crust, don't take the tart out of the baking dish until you have filled it. This will support the crust while you're spreading the caramel and prevent it from breaking. If you're using a biscuit crust, you will be serving the tart in the dish anyway, so this tip doesn't apply.

Serve with coffee or as a dessert.

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