July 26, 2010

Monday Sweets: Banana Pudding Pie

This recipe convinced me I had to make it based on its title alone. How can you go wrong with banana pudding, especially when you put it atop a vanilla wafer crust and top it with meringue? 

The unbelievable taste made its slightly runny presentation irrelevant.

You start with some crumbled vanilla wafers mixed with butter and then top the crust with bananers. 
But what really makes banana pudding divine is the homemade pudding. The powdered mix, while not bad tasting, has nothing on pure eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. And once the pudding melds with wafers and bananas, it's even more irresistible.
 The only step that might seem scary about this recipe is the meringue topping, as forming stiff peaks with egg white and sugar is legitimately intimidating. Not to fear; just keep whipping and whipping, and they will come eventually, I promise. I think humidity slows down the peak formation, so be prepared for it to take a while in the South in the summer.

The fluffy white topping is the perfect seal for the pie. Don't expect leftovers if you have more than a few people around.

Banana Pudding Pie

(12-oz.) box vanilla wafers, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 large bananas, sliced
6 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set aside 30 vanilla wafers; pulse remaining vanilla wafers in a food processor 8 to 10 times or until coarsely crushed. (Yield should be about 2 1/2 cups.) Stir together crushed vanilla wafers and butter until blended. Firmly press on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a 9-inch pieplate.

2. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

3. Arrange banana slices evenly over bottom of crust.

4.  Whisk together first ¾ cup sugar, flour, 2 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks, and milk in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until it reaches the thickness of chilled pudding. (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will be thick enough to hold soft peaks when whisk is lifted.) Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Use immediately.

5. Spread half of hot filling over bananas; top with 20 vanilla wafers. Spread remaining hot filling over vanilla wafers. (Filling will be about 1/4 inch higher than top edge of crust.)

6. Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add ½ cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves. Spread meringue evenly over hot filling, sealing the edges.

7. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool 1 hour on a wire rack or until completely cool. Coarsely crush remaining 10 vanilla wafers, and sprinkle evenly over top of pie. Chill 4 hours.

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