Intro: Split-Banana Surprise Pie
Here's a tantalizing dessert that's served in a small "surprise" package!
Prepare yourself to forget almost everything you thought you knew about bananas... and banana peels.;-)
Each scrumptious single-serving "peel" has a cookie crust loaded with Bananas, Chocolate and Caramel.
It's unlike any Banana Cream pie you've ever tasted before, and you'll go blissfully "bananas" over every creamy, delectable bite.
It really is that good.
Let's get started...
Step 1: Banana Basics, Almost-scientific Reasoning and Your Shopping List:
- Look for plump, unbruised bananas that are evenly yellow-colored. Green bananas are under-ripe, while a light flecking of brown flecks indicates ripeness. Avoid using bananas that are bruised or heavily spotted. Over-ripe bananas may be perfect for banana bread, but they won't abide well in this recipe.
- Try to select bananas in a bunch. That way, you can be sure they'll ripen together at the same time.
- To prevent bruising at home, handle the bananas just like you'd handle an egg... very gently. ;-)
First: A simple green-tinted produce bag (pictured) is used to cover the peeled banana fruit while it's chilling. These bags are available for purchase but I'm certain the free ones (in the produce dept.) will be just as effective for the brief amount of time the fruit is exposed to air (oxygen).
Second: The buttery cookie-crumb crust will prevent oxidization (browning) when pressed inside of the empty banana peel.
Third: The Dulce de Leche caramel sauce will create a protective barrier that keeps the sliced banana filling from turning brown (oxidizing).
Fourth: Blending cream cheese and butter together with sugary mashed banana keeps the topping fresh-looking and fresh tasting. This special "blend" is also responsible for the OMG-melt-in-your-mouth flavor that defies mundane conventionality. ;-P~
The Complete Shopping List:
- 6 medium bananas
- Maria Cookies- may substitute graham crackers
- 3 Tablespoons white sugar
- 6 Tablespoons melted butter- plus- 1/4 cup soft Butter (approx. 3/4 cup total)
- 1/2 cup Macadamia Nuts- divided in half
- Chocolate Syrup
- 1 cup Dulce de Leche Caramel- available in just about every Mexican or Latin grocery store.
- 2 teaspoons milk
- Fleur de sal- optional (but delicious!)
- 8 oz. Cream cheese- Room temperature
- 1/3 cup (plus) Powdered Sugar
- 2 cups Cool Whip topping- thawed in refrigerator
- 6 Maraschino cherries- halved for garnish
Tools you'll need:
- An electric hand mixer... no fancy Bosch or Kitchenaid required. ;-)
- A blender, food processor (or rolling pin) to crush cookies. ;-).
- A pastry bag with a star tip- desirable, but not crucial.
- Room in your refrigerator- imperative! ;-)
- A serving spatula
Step 2: Cookie Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups Maria's Cookies- about 34 cookies or 5 ounces. (may substitute graham crackers)
- 3 Tablespoons white sugar
- 1/4 cup Macadamia Nuts
- 6 Tablespoons butter- melted
In a blender (or food processor), use the slowest speed to burst-blend the cookies until they resemble bread crumbs. Work in small batches. Put in a medium bowl.
Add the 4 reserved cookies to the blender. Add 1/4 cup Macadamia nuts and sugar. Burst-blend until finely ground. Add this to the cookie crumbs and stir to combine.
Add the melted butter to the crumb mixture. Stir well to combine. The crumbs should hold together when pinched. If it doesn't, add more melted butter as needed.
Forming the crust in the banana peel "boat":
One at a time, butterfly-cut a banana in half, lengthwise. Use your thumb to gently separate the fruit from the peel.
Place the fruit in a bowl, removing and discarding any residual banana "strings" on the fruit. Place the bowl inside a "green bag". Fold the top over the fruit and refrigerate.
Spread a few spoonfuls of cookie mixture down the length of the peel. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently (but firmly) press it into the banana peel and up the sides, leaving a well down the center. Use your other hand to keep the banana in shape as the cookie crust is pressed inside the peel.
The pressed cookie crust should be approximately 1/8" thick, like a standard pie crust.
Place the crusted peel on a baking sheet and repeat the process until all of the banana peels have a cookie crust inside.
Put the sheet into the refrigerator ( not the freezer) for at least 30 minutes, allowing the cookie crust to harden.
Step 3: Banana Filling:
Spread 1 cup Dulce de Leche caramel into a bowl and microwave on high for 15-20 seconds.
Add 2 teaspoons of milk (one at a time) and stir with a fork until smooth. The caramel sauce should form thick ribbons when the fork is lifted. It should be luke warm, not hot.
Take the the banana fruit and the banana peels from the refrigerator.
Squeeze a thin drizzle of chocolate syrup down the center of the cookie crust.
Cut a banana into thin slices about 3/16" thick. Overlap the sliced bananas down the entire length of the cookie crust. Repeat until all of the peels are filled with sliced bananas.
Stir the caramel sauce. If it has stiffened, soften in the microwave for about 5 seconds.
Spoon a small amount of sauce slowly and evenly over the banana slices until they're completely covered. Don't go overboard. The sauce should not be dripping out of the crust. Just make sure the banana slices are encased in caramel.
If you're adding fleur de sal or sea salt, now's the time to pinch a tiny amount on top of the caramel sauce. (YUM!!! ;-)
Refrigerate (uncovered) while you prepare the banana cream topping.
Cover leftover caramel sauce with plastic wrap. Set aside until serving time.
Step 4: Banana Cream Topping:
Put 8 oz. softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup softened butter in a medium bowl. Cream together with an electric hand mixer until fluffy.
Remove the unused bananas from the refrigerator. Mash well with a fork. Slowly sprinkle/stir in 1/3 cup powdered sugar. Stir well until smooth.
Add the mashed banana to the cream cheese mixture. Beat together until fully combined. Taste for sweetness. Add more powdered sugar (sparingly) if desired.
Fold in 2 cups thawed Cool Whip with a wooden spoon.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until the banana cream topping is cold and firm.
Once chilled, spoon the cold banana cream into a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip.
Generously pipe the topping onto the caramel-banana filling. It's now officially a PIE! ;-) Repeat until they are all little pies.
Refrigerate until serving time.
Step 5: Garnish and Serve
Finely chop 1/4 cup Macadamia nuts.
Warm the caramel sauce briefly in the microwave.
Plate each pie. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and caramel sauce as desired. Sprinkle with nuts and top with a maraschino cherry.
Serve with a spoon... and enjoy!