Thursday, July 29, 2010

Banoffee Pie: From Disaster to Success

I never worry about creating a disaster in the kitchen. If it happens, so be it. I've learned what not to do next time and more often than not, come up with new ideas that make the end product exceed my original expectations. I try new recipes, make up my own and change some around the day of a dinner party or special event. I even do this for cake orders I get. 

For some reason, this doesn't seem brave to me. It seems like that's what you should do, what everyone should do. Don't shy away from creativity. Embrace our failures as much as we do our successes. Learn from our mistakes and do better next time. Just be sure there is a next time. Don't give up. These are all general lessons of life. And they apply as much in the kitchen as they do in any other life situation.

My most recent kitchen disaster was with banoffee pie. Banoffee pie? you ask. Yes. It's a British-born dessert created in 1972 by chefs in East Sussex. [Curiously enough, most Brits believe it to be a classic American dessert.] It combines bananas with a homemade toffee over an oat cookie base and topped with fresh whipped cream. Banana. Toffee. Banoffee!

To the left, is the success. I was too busy tossing out the first one to take pictures. Although, come to think of it, I could always have taken a picture of it in the compost bin! I will say it was a doozy of a disaster!

Mistake no. 1: The caramel (toffee) was cooked at too high of a temperature. It burned and flaked off the bottom of the pan. This didn't make it taste burned but it did have horrible dark brown chunks throughout that tasted off.

Mistake no. 2: Don't make a custard, curd or toffee sauce when you're making dinner too! I was distracted and didn't stir the toffee constantly as I should have. This combined with the too high temp of the burner allowed it to burn on the bottom, then lifted to float throughout the caramel. Nasty.

Mistake no. 3: Don't use green bananas. Although the bananas I used appeared to be ripe, they were not ripe enough and so it did not have the intense banana flavor that I wanted and prefer.

Mistake no. 4: Not enough butter to hold together the cookie crumb base. Although it tasted great, the cookies I used were far crumblier and dryer than I expected and it nearly fell apart.

The second time around was much better. In fact, I came up with some new ideas that I'll use the next time. Just look at it! The caramel/toffee stands up well and has a bit of oozieness drizzling into the oat cookie base. The whipped cream held up nicely and it's just the perfect picture of what I consider to be one incredible Banoffee Pie! 

My family loves it so there it will definitely be made a third time.
Truth be told though, there won't be a third time for a while. I love, love, love bananas but find the caramel/toffee to be far too sweet for my taste.

The Recipe
100g unsalted butter
100g sugar
400g can condensed milk 150g Oat cookies, crushed 75g/3oz unsalted butter, melted 3 large, ripe bananas, sliced 250ml whipping cream, whipped until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed cocoa powder, for dusting

  1. For the caramel, place the butter and sugar into a non-stick pan over a low heat, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add the condensed milk and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously, to make the caramel. As soon as the mixture thickens and begins to smell of caramel, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, place the crushed biscuits into a bowl. Add the butter and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a 10" tart pan. Press in to pack the mixture evenly into the base.
  5. Add the sliced bananas to the caramel mixture and mix well, then spread the mixture over the biscuit base.
    Transfer to the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the fridge and spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the banoffee layer.
  7. Dust with cocoa powder.


  1. Although I have never heard of this pie it certainly sounds interesting! And who cares about mistakes in the kitchen, they happen and make the whole thing more fun. :)

  2. I totally agree - mistakes make fore great chefs! And since you will try almost anything once, you should totally try this one.

    With perfectly ripe bananas it is fantastic! It's just so sweet that I'm going to have to wait a few months before I make it again. My stepson will be begging for it in about three months time so I know that'll be when I give in!



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