Banoffee pie

Banoffee pie is possibly the easiest dessert to serve at a dinner party if you want to impress without doing too much work. It doesn’t involve any form of baking (unless you want to make the base from scratch, in which case, go you!) so there is no clock-watching or oven-temp-juggling involved. This is more like assembling. It’s my go-to dessert because it’s so easy to make and people always like them.

Banoffee pie... this particular one could do with more caramel, methinks.
Banoffee pie… this particular one could do with more caramel, methinks.

I’ve made one (or two!) every Christmas for the past three Christmasses as this is my in-laws favourite dessert.

You can also make it whatever size you want. I’ve made them into large pies and served in slices, but I have also made them in individual single-serve ramekins and served with a teaspoon. Both went down well.

Banoffee Pie
Makes: 2×8″ pies
Ingredients
300g plain Hobnobs* or digestives
175g butter, melted (salted or unsalted, your choice in taste)
1x397g tin Nestle Carnation Caramel**
600ml double or whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
3-4 ripe bananas
Cocoa powder or any toppings you like
Method
  1. Crush the biscuits. My preferred lazy-person’s method is to chuck all of them into a food processor and blitz until they become the texture of breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, break up the biscuits, place into a ziplock bag, get rid of most of the air inside and zip it. Then wrap it in a tea towel and use something heavy (but unbreakable) like a rolling pin to bash the biscuit bits until you get a fine texture like breadcrumbs.

    Step 1: Hobnobs broken up and placed into food processor!
    Step 1: Hobnobs broken up and placed into food processor!
  2. Mix in melted butter.

    Step 2: When it looks like this, mix in melted butter.
    Step 2: When it looks like this, mix in melted butter.
  3. Divide the butter-biscuit mixture into two 8″ flan/quiche/pie tins (or lined loose-bottomed tins, or ramekins for cute single-servings). Flatten with the back of a spoon (or the base of a cheap champagne glass if you are like me). Try to indent the centre more, leaving a slightly raised biscuity ridge around the outside. This ridge will better contain your caramel.

    Step 3: Divide into pans! I used disposable flan tins in this instance.
    Step 3: Divide into pans and flatten! I used disposable flan tins in this instance.
  4. Put the prepared bases into a refrigerator for 20 minutes to set. Meanwhile, pour cream into a bowl with vanilla paste and whip until you get the texture of whipped cream. Be careful not to overwhip because this will turn the cream into butter and there is no way to reverse the process. Put aside for now.
  5. After 20 minutes, take the set bases out of the refrigerator and cover the bases with caramel***, excepting the outermost ridge.

    Step 5: Spread caramel all over the base, excepting the outermost ridge!
    Step 5: Spread caramel all over the base, excepting the outermost ridge!
  6. Slice peeled bananas around 1cm thick and arrange on top of the caramel, making sure you cover as much of the area as possible.

    Step 6: Arrange sliced bananas on top of caramel.
    Step 6: Arrange sliced bananas on top of caramel.
  7. Cover the banana slices with more caramel as this will ensure the bananas get minimum exposure to air, and therefore reduce discolouration. You can, if you like, sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top for a “salted caramel” style.

    Step 7: Spread MORE caramel on top on sliced bananas for a caramel-banana-caramel sandwich!
    Step 7: Spread MORE caramel on top on sliced bananas for a caramel-banana-caramel sandwich!
  8. You have two options with the whipped cream topping. You can either a) spoon the whipped cream on top and spread it around with a spoon or a fork for a rustic look, or b) put the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe a pattern to your liking. Do whichever takes your fancy.

    Step 8: Pile or pipe on the whipped cream and decorate!
    Step 8: Pile or pipe on the whipped cream and decorate!
  9. Sprinkle a bit of cocoa powder over the top. For even distribution, you can use a sieve to do this. Alternatively, if you feel you want more sweetness, you can drizzle chocolate sauce (same stuff they use for ice cream) over the top. Other alternative toppings include chocolate shavings, hundreds-and-thousands, sprinkles, broken up pecan nuts, etc.
  10. Put in the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.
Notes/Tips
* Whilst banoffee is traditionally made with a pastry or digestives base, I personally prefer the Hobnobs (a British oaty biscuit) version – the oaty crumbly base gives a better – almost nutty – texture.
** Before Nestle came out with their tinned caramel, a lot of people (and myself) used to buy tinned sweetened condensed milk and boil the devil out of it. If you have no access to tinned caramel, you can either immerse an unopened tin of condensed milk sideways in water in a deep saucepan and boil for 2-3 hours. There is a risk of an exploding tin if you let it boil dry, so always check the water level and top up as needed! A safer method is to empty the tin of condensed milk into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it turns into the caramel colour you prefer. Take off heat as soon as it gets near the colour you like, because it will continue cooking for a little bit whilst it cools. If you cook too long, it will taste burnt.
*** The caramel in the tin will be quite thick and stodgy, and difficult to spread on the base. To rectify this, give it a hearty stir with a fork to loosen it up before attempting to spread it onto the base.

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