I consider myself a fan of British pop culture. I visited London when I was 14 and became pretty smitten with the region. However, when it comes to British food, I am not that knowledgeable. While I was in London, I was still a pretty picky eater and stuck to familiar foods (such as Subway). In terms of desserts, aside from candies I only had some vague understanding of puddings until I heard about Banoffee, which was mentioned in passing on a post on Free Food Boston. The name made me curious, and recently I looked for some recipes for this dessert.
The pie is named for banana and toffee (not coffee, like I originally thought >_<). I liked that the recipe wasn’t particularly complicated- a crust made from cookie crumbs, dulce de leche, sliced bananas, then topped with whipped cream. I decided to use some semi-authentic ingredients, namely British biscuits for the crust. I couldn’t find HobNobs, which seem to be highly recommended for the crust but the pack of Lyons I found in the international aisle at Safeway was sufficient.
I haven’t quite figured out this cookie crust thing yet because it was a bit thick at some parts, but I’m still learning. I had a can of dulce de leche on hand that I made a while ago using a crockpot. When I tried the sauce before, I dipped fruit in it so I knew that it would be a good match with bananas. Instead of just a whipped cream topping, I thought adding mascarpone cheese would give it an extra umph. I put the pie together and refrigerated it the night before Thanksgiving.
I assembled a beautiful pie, but that’s not what I got the next day. It was watery and generally weird looking and I could not figure out why. With a lot of searching online, I found out that the moisture from the bananas caused the dulce de leche to become soupy.
Le sigh. Maybe the fact that banoffee isn’t supposed to sit too long is a known fact across the pond, but here in Baltimore, USA, I had no clue as it wasn’t stated in any of the recipes I used.
Also, I did not heed the directions in the BBC recipe of chilling the dulce de leche in the pie crust for an hour, mayhaps that might have helped. One blog, Fidgety Fingers, suggested freezing the pie to begin with. Could this salvage my soupy mess?
Sort of. Freezing the pie made it more manageable and the layers of the pie were visible, but I had to let it sit for about 15 minutes before slicing it. Despite the mess, the pie does taste pretty good. While the mascarpone isn’t as strong of a flavor as I would have liked, it complements the banana and caramel-y dulce de leche filling. Like I said, I struggle with homemade pie crusts but this one had a nice flavor and texture (like a heartier graham cracker crust) even though I couldn’t find a more traditional brand of biscuits. It’s not too heavy either, so I think it would be even more enjoyable during the summer.
Anyway, now I know, and knowing is half the battle. And somehow I’m not deterred from trying other British recipes.
- 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), melted
- 300 grams biscuits (I used 21 biscuits)
- 3 bananas
- 1 14-ounce can dulce de leche
- 7 ounces heavy cream
- 3 ½ tablespoons mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 square bittersweet chocolate (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place biscuits into a food processor and grind them until they are crumbs. Add melted butter and process until the biscuit crumbs and butter resemble wet sand. Press biscuit mixture into a pie dish until fairly even to shape the crust. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust begins to bubble slightly. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
In a large bowl, beat together mascarpone, heavy cream, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff. Set aside.
Slice bananas and arrange slices on cooled crust. Spoon and slather dulce de leche on top of it. Then spread mascarpone topping over the bananas and dulce de leche. Grate bittersweet chocolate over the mascarpone for decoration.
Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Serve immediately.*
*If your pie is a failure you can always use it to make milkshakes: a generous slice of pie + about ¾ cup milk + a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. I did and it was