photo by Anthony Palatta
This was my take on a recipe from a new show on the Food Network called Desserts First. On the show, chef Anne Thornton combines the banana pudding recipe off the box of Nabsico Nilla Wafers with a crushed Nilla Wafer crust. She then coats her bananas in a caramel sauce mixed with a teaspoon of fleur de sel. The original recipe can be found here.
After watching Thornton make the pie on TV and reading some of the comments, I decided to make a few modifications. First, I switched out her egg-based pudding recipe for the cornstarch-based banana cream pie filling recipe from 500 Pies, which I've used previously to great success. (You can read my post on the pie here.) I did that because her filling looked a little grainy on TV. Also, a few readers complained that the filling lost its shape when you cut a slice from the pie.
Another complaint I saw in the reviews section was that the creamy caramel sauce recipe was a bit difficult to make. I decided to use a different recipe for that too. In a saucepan, cover 2 cups of sugar with just enough water to cover, but not too much, boil until browned (without stirring), then turn off the heat and while stirring, slowly add heavy cream and any flavorings you like. I went for amaretto.
Finally, I assembled the pie. I began with the baked and cooled nilla wafer crumb crust, which I made in a springform rather than a pie plate, for extra wow factor. Next I added a layer of sliced bananas coated in salted caramel sauce. Then I topped that with pie filling, nilla wafers, then bananas and pie filling again.
Cover with whipped cream and then chill. When you're ready to serve, drizzle the top with caramel sauce and sprinkle extra nilla wafer crumbs.
The pie was a decadent mix of whipped cream, vanilla cream, banana, hints of almond flavor (because of the addition of amaretto to the caramel and almond extract to the whipped cream), and of course, salted caramel. My caramel could have been saltier, but this was my first try, so I wanted to go easy. My one critique; the crust was a bit soggier than I expected, so I might use less butter than suggested in the recipe.
In short, quite a bit of work, but worth it!