Banoffee Pie

The first time I heard the word "banoffee" was in the movie Love Actually, in the scene when Kiera Knightly's character Juliet shows up at her new husband's best friend's house in the hopes of getting her hands on the video he shot during their wedding. She thinks he hates her, because he's always been rude and standoffish, and so brings along banoffee pie as a bribe. There is some joking about the pie being a terrible choice, and it's revealed that it's not hate he feels, but rather a deep and hopelessly unrequited love.

Then he runs off, but not before he zippers his sweater with great force while Dido's voice soars in the background.

No exaggeration, this is one of my top 5 all time favorite movie scenes. (Watch the full scene here when you're done reading this post. The zipper bit starts at 5:10)

Not because of the tension and storyline, but because of the purpose with which he zippers that sweater, and because of the way the zippering was so perfectly timed with the soaring bit in the Dido song. And also because of the way the random Christmas shopper is frightened when he gives a frustrated jump a few seconds after zippering his sweater.

And I love it even MORE since my trip to Scotland because I now know that banoffee pie, which along with the zipper played such an important role in this love story, is delicious.

Juliet, you don't have terrible taste in pie at all!

Also spelled "banoffi," Banoffee (so fun to say!) is a clever portmanteau (also fun to say!) made up of the words "banana" and "toffee."

The pie itself is like a much better (and British!) version of banana cream pie. A slightly salty shortbread tart crust is filled with condensed milk caramel (aka dulce de leche) then topped off with slices of fresh bananas and finished off with a cloud of lightly sweetened whipped cream. There are lots of versions, of course, some with chocolate syrup swirled in or cocoa or chocolate shavings dusted all over the top. Some forgo the shortbread crust for one made of butter and crushed biscuits.

My favorite version was the one served at afternoon tea on our second to last day in Edinburgh; it was a mini version in a tiny sweet tart filled with chocolate ganache and a fat disc of fresh banana with a thick caramel piped over the top. It was perfection! See:

I read up a bit on this pie and found that it was invented in the early 70s at a restaurant in East Sussex, England, called "The Hungry Monk" by chef Ian Dowding and owner Nigel Mackenzie based on an American pie, which sounds pretty good in its own right, made of a layer of caramel topped with coffee-flavored whipped cream. The pie grew in popularity and can now be found just about anywhere in the UK.

I got back from our Scottish vacation with a fierce craving for the things I'd eaten while away and a long list of dishes I plan to recreate. This pie was at the top of my list and so here it is.

The toffee in the pie is a simple caramel, known more commonly here as dulce de leche. It's made by cooking condensed milk slowly until it thickens into a silky, almost custardy, caramel cream. There are several methods for doing this, most involving water baths or double boilers, but I chose to do it the "dangerous" way, by boiling a can of condensed milk in a large pot of water for two hours. It's "dangerous" because if the water level drops, the can can explode causing severe burns, property damage, and a very sticky mess. But as long as the water in the pot is kept at least a few inches higher than the can (by adding more hot water every 15 minutes or so) it's just fine. I've included both this and a somewhat saner safer way, below.

For my crust, I made a basic shortbread tart crust (recipe below) and baked it until golden. Then I filled it up with the still hot caramel (that fuzzy paw in the photo is my hand wrapped in a washcloth as the can was very hot and my oven mitts were in the wash).

I really liked the addition of chocolate to the banoffee (even though it isn't part of the original recipe), so I swirled in a little bit of melted ganache I had in the fridge).

I then sliced two bananas, then ate half of one dipped in caramel while layering the rest into the plate, and topped it all off with a huge pile of freshly whipped and very lightly sweetened whipped cream.

I found that the pie kept really well in the fridge for the 3 days it lasted in our home. It's a fairly hardy crust so it really holds the pie well and the flavors inside just started to meld together beautifully.

I plan on playing around with these flavors again to make more delicious things. (I really want to recreate those tiny tarts we ate at the tea house.)

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Banoffee Pie Recipe
Makes one 9" pie/tart

Print this Recipe

1 can condensed milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar, divided
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/4 cup + 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup chocolate chips
2 ripe bananas
Cocoa powder, for dusting

First make the caramel. (Choose your preferred method)

Method #1 (dangerous way): Fill a large and deep pop with water and place the can of condensed milk at the bottom. Make sure the water covers the can by at least 3 inches (preferable more). Bring the water to a boil, then lower to a rapid simmer. Let boil for 2 hours, adding more water every 15-20 minutes to keep the water level at least 3 inches above the can.

Method #2 (safe way): Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour one can of sweetened condensed milk into a shallow baking dish. Set the dish within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Cover the condensed milk dish tightly with foil and bake for about 1 hour, adding more water to the pan as needed. Once caramel is browned, remove from oven, whisk and let cool.

While the caramel cooks, prepare the crust. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (conveniently the same as the caramel oven temp!) Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Press the dough into a 9" tart pan, pushing it into the bottoms and sides. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the tart and place in freezer to chill for 15 minutes (this will prevent shrinking). Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool at room temperature.

Once the caramel is ready, pour it into the baked tart crust and spread evenly (you may not need to use the whole can.

Make the chocolate ganache. Heat 1/4 cup of cream and pour it over the 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Stir until smooth and then drizzle over the caramel in the crust, using a spoon to swirl it in. (You may leave a bit to drizzle over the pie at the end.)

Slice the banana into 1" pieces and spread on top of the caramel and chocolate, pressing in slightly.

Whip the remaining heavy cream and 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Spread over the pie and dust with cocoa or drizzle on remaining chocolate. Serve immediately or let chill. Store leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. 

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