Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I am making banana cream pie...

I'm not sure if banana cream pie is a summery dessert or what, but I am making it in the middle of winter anyway. It's sunny and cheery yellow and also full of carbs, so it seems perfect for winter.

The trouble with banana cream pie is that a few months ago I tasted one that a friend made and it was amazing but she's a real foodie and as we were devouring it, she told us that it took like 12 hours to make. I couldn't really comprehend this. Twelve hours? Surely she was exaggerating. But it seemed really worth it, so when I was thinking of a dessert to make for our dinner guests this Friday, I thought why not banana cream pie? Which would be fine if I'd ever only had cheap banana cream pie, but because I tasted the most amazing 12-hour dream cream pie, I cannot settle for the alternative. Also the Hubs tasted it, so anything I make will be in comparison to that pie and he will not understand that I didn't want to spend 12 hours making the pie.

But when I started looking for recipes, they all seemed way too easy. Prep times of 15 minutes. And then I realized why: they all used Jell-O vanilla or banana pudding and Cool Whip. All of which I'm pretty sure are not "from scratch" ingredients and aren't going to taste like it either. But I couldn't find a recipe that didn't call for premade pudding or Cool Whip topping. Wasn't there a happy medium between 15 minutes and 12 hours? And then I found Emeril's recipe.

His banana cream pie is famous, and he's been serving it in his restaurant for years. The recipe looks easy enough until in every section you realize that you have to skip down to the bottom to make the recipe for that part. Like:

Fill the graham cracker crumb crust* with pastry cream* then top with whipped cream* and drizzle with caramel sauce* and chocolate sauce* and top with chocolate shavings.

* Each of the asterisks then point to another recipe for these steps.

And every step takes like 4 hours. Because first you make the crust and then you cook it. And then you make the pastry cream (which I discovered is custard but I think Americans don't call it custard because custard to them is ice cream. It's all very confusing).

More confusing are the parts Emeril just assumes I will understand. Such as "Cook out the cornstarch until the mixture thickens."

Thickens to what? How thick is thick?

And I was supposed to use a vanilla bean, which seems easy but where exactly does one buy a vanilla bean? So I just added extra pure vanilla extract, which is really not the answer, but it will have to do.

And it called for Heavy Cream. Do you know there's no such thing as Heavy Cream in the dairy section of the Rabba? There's table cream and whipping cream and half and half cream. I opted for table cream though I think I should've gotten whipping cream because I guess I'm supposed to use the leftover cream for the topping so now I'll have to buy whipping cream anyway because you can't whip table cream can you? Why didn't it just say Whipping Cream?

The recipe is rated Expert. At first I was like "It's not that hard," but I'm guessing a general understanding of the above terms might be why it's rated Expert. Like, maybe I'm supposed to not only know that pastry cream is custard but that Heavy Cream is Whipping Cream. So really it's just a test of my American baking terminology.

So far I've made the crust and the custard. I was supposed to put the custard through a fine mesh, but the only thing close to mesh I own is a J.Lo bra and a bee-zapper and I was pretty sure neither of those are going to work, so I skipped that step and have now whispered sweet nothings and wrapped the custard and put it in the fridge and am waiting another four hours in the hopes that it does something magical, though I'm not sure what.

The one recipe it didn't provide was chocolate shavings, so I assume I don't have to make the chocolate, but I'm not sure: can you buy chocolate shavings or are you supposed to buy a piece of chocolate and shave it yourself? I'm assuming the latter, but what kind of chocolate? Milk or semi-sweet? Surely not a Jersey Milk or a Wunderbar.

As for the caramel and chocolate sauces, I'm no fool. I'm going to Pusateri's tomorrow to buy both.


vickie said...

This site will help you with just about everything where cooking and cooking terms are concerned:

Food Dictionary

(They even explain "heavy cream"!)

I'm a *tiiiny* bit worried about your pie...only because the straining aspect of the recipe is meant to remove those weird, rubbery little clumps/bits that sometimes happen with custard. :-/

Good luck!

Miss Perfect said...

Sounds delicious!
Kind of.
Maybe you should get a frozen pie for backup??
Last week I had my family over and I bought a frozen apple pie you just put in the oven and bake. Anyway, it was really crumbly and messy and I started to cry it was such a disaster and my mom said "don't cry. I can't believe you even attempted to make a homemade pie this pregnant." What a disaster!
Your pie has got to be better than mine was!