Intro: (Pi)rate Banana Creme Pie
Here's my spin on a classic mathematicians joke involving a pirate and the formula for the area of a circle. The decorations are made out of intricately piped (and painted) white, milk, and colored chocolates laid over a delicious semi-homemade banana cream pie with a classic graham cracker crust. The base for this pie is very easy to make but if you really want a show stopper take the time to make a beautiful Pi day topper. Use your imagination! Here are the steps necessary to create your very own wonderfully delicious (Pi)rate banana creme pie.
Step 1: The Crust
To create the crust I simply used crushed graham crackers, melted butter, water, and a little bit of sugar. Depending on the kind of filling you choose you may add cinnamon, cocoa powder, or various other flavorings into the crust. To make, crush about 7-10 graham cracker sheets (14-20 squares) with a rolling pin (I do this in a plastic zip top bag for ease of cleaning and handling). Mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar into the crumb. Add approximately 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of water to the bag of graham crackers and incorporate by working it in with your fingers (this is why the plastic bag makes things so much easier) Dump the mixture into a buttered pie pan (9 inch glass) and form with your hands pressing with the backside of your knuckles. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until it forms a crust. Set aside to cool while you make your filling.
Step 2: Filling
You have many different options to choose from when filling the pie. Your options include any kind of flavored cream cheese filling, instant pudding mixes, gelatin based fruit spreads, etc. In this recipe I simplify things by choosing a classic instant banana creme pudding mix that can be found in any grocery store. To freshen it up I have incorporated ripe bananas adding texture and lightness to the pie. Cut the banana into 1/4-1/2 inch rounds and line the bottom of the pie crust. Prepare the filling as directed and pour over the top of the bananas, smooth and let set in the refrigerator for at least 5 minutes. Whipped cream can be added to the top before decorating but here I liked the bright yellow background so I have chosen to leave it out for now and simply serve the pie with a dollop.
Step 3: Decorating
Here is where your creativity comes in. I have found that one of the best methods for making a pie look terrific is using chocolate. Chocolate is a very easy to control medium and can be placed directly on top of a pie after completion. At first this method may look overwhelming or difficult, but try it yourself and i'm certain you will be surprised at how easy it really is.
The chocolate I use for my designs is a common melting chocolate that can be found at any grocery store. You can use any kind of chocolate but ones specifically designed for melting are preferred as they tend to not dry out as easily when working with them. If colored chocolate is hard to find you may use food dye mixed with white chocolate for the various colors. Beware though, some food dyes don't mix well with certain chocolates.
To start a design, print out a mirrored image of the design you wish to end with. Cover the print out with a sheet of parchment paper. Layer by layer apply various colors of melted chocolate with a food safe paint brush working from the forefront to the background (remember you will display the side that is face down on the parchment paper). After applying the many layers of color, flood the entire piece with your choice of type of chocolate (i've used white chocolate) to solidify and strengthen the piece. Be sure not to make this too thick as a thin layer of chocolate is preferred on a pie. Let the piece chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes. Invert and place the piece on your pie.
Step 4: Enjoy!
Now you have created a beautiful pi-day masterpiece. Enjoy and don't forget to take pictures!