I wanted to thank the lovely friend of my parents who loaned us her condo. in Mammoth for some spring break skiing. She is in the process of losing both her vision and cognitive functioning and is living at home only with significant assistance. My mom said she would probably appreciate some home-baked cookies—much better than the generic arrangement of flowers. I baked her a batch of our family favorite ginger snaps.
But before I could ice them and send them out, my life intervened in the form of our school auction and the cookies sat in a plastic container. And sat. And sat. Until they could have broken off a tooth. Obviously I could not send these as a gift, and even my own family wouldn't eat them. I almost tossed them but decided instead to send them on a little trip through the food processor. After all, they were hard as rocks but not stale. I would freeze the crumbs, and surely I would find something to do with them before long.
They sat in the freezer for a single day before an inspiration struck me. I offered in our school auction four seasons of pies, in other words a pie a season for a year. Thank goodness our carpool family around the corner won this item for the third year in a row, saving me from having to drive pies across town. Carpool Boy, who has put himself in charge of selecting the pies, put in for a banana cream (too late for pumpkin or really good apples and too early for berries or stone fruit, I told him). Fine. Bananas and vanilla, the main flavors of the chosen pie, are some of my favorites. But isn't this pie sometimes a little . . . bland? I know some recipes use a graham cracker crust, but I suffered through too many Sunday school snacks for this to be an option. Might a gingersnap crumb crust kick it up just a little??
Yes! And, in fact, I think cookies of almost any kind would work well here: chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, etc. And this is a much easier crust than the standard pie crust.
BANANA CREAM PIE WITH COOKIE CRUMB CRUST
2 cups cookie crumbs, ground well
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degree. Mix ingredients until moistened. Press into a 10-inch pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake crust until set, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
For the filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan.Whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Discard vanilla bean. Refrigerate to cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour.
Stir custard to loosen, if necessary. Spread 1 cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with half of sliced bananas, then 1 cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard.
Combine topping ingredients in standing mixer and whip with balloon attachment to soft peaks. Spread over pie. Chill pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, several hours and up to one day.
The hard part is leaving the cookies around long enough. . . . And yes, the condo. donor did receive a fresh batch.