Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream PieOutdoor entertaining season is so close, I can taste it…and it tastes like Banana Cream Pie.Banana Cream PieCold and creamy, with a soft banana-scented filling and a crumbly, buttery Nilla Wafer crust—it’s basically everything that’s good about banana pudding, made from scratch and layered into a pie plate.Banana Cream PieThis pie is a little kitschy and very retro—the sort of dessert that everyone forgets they love until they are presented with it…and then they fall in love all over again.Banana Cream PieBanana Cream PieI defy you to find a warm weather occasion that can’t be improved by Banana Cream Pie.Banana Cream PieBanana Cream PieRooftop cookout? Banana Cream Pie for dessert. (Pro Tip: this is especially good on nights that involve fireworks.)

Birthday? Banana Cream Pie > cake. Well, most cake.Banana Cream PieBanana Cream PieBeach weekend? Don’t forget a box of Nilla Wafers.

Picnic in the park? If you can find a way to keep it cold, absolutely.Banana Cream PieBanana Cream PieNetflix and chill…and Banana Cream Pie.Banana Cream PieTrust me. This is a pie capable of winning you new friends.Banana Cream PieBanana Cream PieI mean, I don’t know about you, but if I come to a gathering and someone has made Banana Cream Pie, I want to find that person and make them my friend.

It’s always good to have friends that make pie.Banana Cream PieBanana Cream Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

Crust:
60 Nilla Wafers*
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
2 medium bananas, thinly sliced, divided
2 teaspoons lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar), divided
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Nilla Wafers (optional)
banana slices (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Make the crust. Place Nilla Wafers in the bowl of a food processor and process until no large pieces remain. Add light brown sugar, melted butter, and salt. Process until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch standard pie plate and use clean hands to press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool it on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Thinly slice 1 banana and toss it in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Line the cooled crust with banana slices. Set aside.

In a medium-large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, pour the milk into the dry ingredients. Continue to whisk until the mixture boils for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low.

Whisk egg yolks with a fork. Remove 1/3 of the warm milk mixture from the pot. Whisking constantly, slowly pour milk mixture into the egg yolks until completely combined. Add egg yolk mixture to the pot and turn heat back up to medium-high. Continue to whisk until mixture boils for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla extract and butter. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Slice remaining banana and toss in remaining teaspoon of lemon juice. Arrange slices over the top of the filling. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, pressing so it adheres to the surface, and chill for at least four hours or overnight. Bananas will brown a bit.

Make the whipped cream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Remove pie from refrigerator and top with whipped cream. Slice and serve pie, topping individual slices with Nilla Wafers and banana slices immediately before serving, if desired.

Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Note:

I use boxed Nilla Wafers for this recipe and recommend that you do, too. I have not tested this recipe with my homemade Vanilla Wafers. If you do, please let me know how it works out.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down CakeThere’s just something about Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.Pineapple Upside-Down CakeI don’t know if it’s the buttery cake or the mosaic of canned fruit that I would otherwise never eat or the way the brown sugar glaze caramelizes perfectly during the 50 minute bake time.Pineapple Upside-Down CakePineapple Upside-Down CakePineapple Upside-Down CakePineapple Upside-Down CakePerhaps it’s the way that it somehow straddles the line between Everyday Cake and Celebration Cake.Pineapple Upside-Down CakePineapple Upside-Down CakeOr that it doesn’t need to cool much after baking and doesn’t need any sort of adornment to make it complete. A scoop of ice cream doesn’t hurt though.Pineapple Upside-Down CakePineapple Upside-Down CakeMaybe it’s that making one of these beauties lets me channel the TV ghost of June Cleaver. The undeniable retro-ness of this cake nearly has me reaching for my string of pearls.Pineapple Upside-Down Cake(That’s really something, considering that this blog could easily be sponsored by Lululemon, Birkenstock, and ten year old college t-shirts.)Pineapple Upside-Down CakeYep, if I were a cake, this would be the one.Pineapple Upside-Down CakeWhy all this Pineapple Upside-Down Cake love? Well, all the things listed above and because today is National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day. Yes, that’s a thing now. As far as I’m concerned, it’s as good a reason as any to stash a homemade cake in your fridge and snack on it all weekend.Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

Topping:
1 20-ounce can pineapple slices in juice
1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup pineapple juice (reserved from topping)
1/2 cup milk (not skim or fat free), room temperature

For serving:
vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a deep 9-inch round cake pan (or a springform). Set aside.

Make the topping. Open the can of pineapple rings and drain the juice into a small bowl. Drain maraschino cherries (or just fish them out of the jar).

In a small saucepan, combine butter and light brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Transfer mixture into prepared pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it over the entire bottom of the pan. Top the brown sugar mixture with a single layer or pineapple and cherries. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Combine pineapple juice, milk, vanilla and almond extracts (if using) in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low, alternate adding dry ingredients and the pineapple juice mixture in two installments. Mix just until combined.

Pour batter over pineapple and cherry layer, and spread with a silicone spatula to even out the top. Tap pan on the counter two or three times to release any large air bubbles. Depending on the depth of your pan, you may want to place it on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any light overflow of caramel.

Bake cake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tent loosely with a layer of foil if anything begins to brown too quickly.

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan a couple of times before inverting onto a cake stand or large serving plate. If any fruit sticks to the pan, just nudge it back onto the cake with your fingers.

Serve cake warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, if desired.

Cake is best the day it’s baked, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Monster Blondies

Monster BlondiesRemember that huge, ridiculous M&Ms Surprise Cake I posted last week? It’s long gone.Monster Blondies You know what’s still taking up space in my kitchen? This comically large container of M&Ms. It’s made it through two of those cakes, a batch of cookies and lots of late night snacks, and it’s still kickin’.Monster Blondies Also taking up space in my kitchen? Three different jars of peanut butter. THREE. And they’re all different brands. Just…what? I really need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all my baking supplies so I’m not compelled to pick up peanut butter every time I see it on sale.Monster Blondies So, what does one do with all that peanut butter and that huge container of M&Ms? Add some oats and make Monster Blondies, of course!Monster Blondies What makes these blondies so…monstrous? Well, they’re a riff on Monster Cookies, a sort of “everything but the kitchen sink” cookie that, at its most basic, contains peanut butter, oats, M&Ms and chocolate chips.Monster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesThe original cookies are terrific, but skipping the cookie dough and tossing all those ingredients into blondie batter is absolutely the way to go! The resulting blondies have all the flavors and textures from their namesake recipe, but with an extra thick and chewy peanut butter base.Monster BlondiesMonster BlondiesMonster BlondiesNot only that, but blondies are way easier to make than cookies—this recipe comes together with just one bowl and a silicone spatula! And, of course, they don’t require baking in batches. Monster Blondies are ready to come out of the oven just 40 minutes after you start making the batter!Monster BlondiesOnce the blondies have cooled slice them up and dig in! You’ll love the soft & chewy blondie base, the slight saltiness from the peanut butter, the texture from the oats and crackly candy coating, and tons of chocolate. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the very best kind of mid-week pick-me-up ❤ Monster BlondiesMonster Blondies
makes 16 blondies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&Ms candy

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on two sides. Grease with butter. Set aside.

Place butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Melt together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Transfer to a medium large mixing bowl. Stir in light brown sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Fold in oats, followed by chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Spread the blondie batter in prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 28 minutes), or until turning golden at the edges. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Use foil to lift blondies out of pan. Peel off foil and transfer blondies to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.Monster Blondies

Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2

Hey y’all! We’ve been having some repairs done in our apartment for the last couple of weeks, so baking has been less frequent than I’d like. I don’t have a new recipe for you today, and while I could have gone and written a Friday Favorites post, I thought I’d get a little crazy and write about myself instead 😉

I have posted more than 250 recipes in the last two and a half years, and while a lot has changed (my photos are sooooo much better now), my About Me page has basically stayed the same since day one! For those of you that don’t know me personally, I thought I’d take the liberty of giving you a few fast facts. Or 30 of them.

Let’s start off with the basics, shall we?Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I’m from Fort Worth, Texas, and have an amazing family. I’m the middle child.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I’ve lived in New York for 10.5 years. The honeymoon is definitely over and sometimes I hate the NYC grind, but just when I’m ready to give up on this city, I fall back in love with it.

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Hershey loves asparagus and me, in that order.
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Cocoa’s disdain for me is equivalent to my love for her.

I have always considered myself a dog person, but I am obsessed with my day job work cats, Hershey and Cocoa. #secretcatladyBeyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I am not athletic, but I love to watch baseball. I am a diehard Texas Rangers fan, even when they are terrible. Two of my biggest “bucket list” items are going to games at Wrigley Field and Dodgers Stadium. I crossed Fenway Park off the list last fall.

My favorite word is “pocket.” My least favorite word is “veggies.” They’re vegetables.

I don’t know how to ride a bike.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I love musical theatre. I got to see Hamilton last year–totally lives up to the hype.

My heroes are Nora Ephron, Ruth Reichl, and Martin Scorsese.

My favorite movie is GoodFellas. When I’m having a bad day, my comfort movie is You’ve Got Mail. I will not apologize for loving 1990s Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2I collect cookbooks (shocker!), and love finding them at thrift stores and on stoops. My best find so far is a near-pristine copy of The Gourmet Cookbook that I found in Beacon, NY.

Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2
With Sally McKenney Quinn of Sally’s Baking Addiction.

I first got interested in baking while reading Sally’s Baking Addiction. I got to meet Sally just a week or two after I started my own baking blog!

Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2
With Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen.

My favorite food blog that isn’t this one is Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman is a queen, and just as delightful in person as she is online. Orangette is my second favorite. Molly Wizenberg doesn’t blog much these days, but her Instagram and podcast are amazing.

Speaking of podcasts, one of my favorites is WTF with Marc Maron—it’s great background noise for baking the day away. I actually saw Marc Maron on the Highline last summer and immediately burst into tears like he was a Beatle or 1997 Leonardo DiCaprio or something. Luckily he didn’t see me!Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2If I could up and move anywhere, it would be Maine.

My greatest accomplishment is quitting drinking almost five years ago. I also quit smoking nine months ago.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2The best job I ever had was working at Sahadi’s. It’s still my favorite store.

My dream day job is to open a cooking school for children. I even know where it would be and what the classes would entail.

I wish I knew anything about coding. I’d love to streamline this site.

I have never worked in a restaurant and have little desire to own a bakery. One day, I’d like to be a legitimate food writer.Beyond Baking: Getting to Know E2My current favorite recipe on this site is Overnight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts. They’re as delicious as they are beautiful.img_1645The thing I am most excited to make in the coming months is a wedding cake!img_3210My goals for the next year are to be happy and do meaningful work with food.

In five years, I hope to be making at least half of my income from writing. I’d also like to find someone great and settle down. And I’d like to have a dog…or a cat.

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Poor furious Cocoa.

Now that you know more about me, tell me about you! What’s your favorite movie? Least favorite word? Favorite podcast? Inquiring bakers want to know! You can ask me something, too ❤

Have a great weekend, y’all!

M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise CakeI posted pictures of a big M&Ms-stuffed chocolate cake on my social media last week and y’all went crazy for it!M&Ms Surprise CakeI get it—chocolate cake + buttercream + M&Ms inside + more M&Ms on top = MAGIC.M&Ms Surprise CakeThat original cake was for a friend and not intended for the blog, but given the response, I thought you might like to know how to make your own!M&Ms Surprise CakeFirst things first. You’re going to need four 9-inch round layers of chocolate cake. This one is a super easy no-mixer recipe that makes four soft, moist, perfect layers. You may recognize this recipe from my my Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream—it’s exactly the same except that I scaled it up by 50%.M&Ms Surprise CakePlace one of the layers on a serving plate or your favorite of all your cakestands. Spread a little frosting on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeTake two of the layers and punch out holes in the centers. I use a 6-inch ring for this, but you can use a wide-mouthed glass or even just a paring knife and a circle of parchment. Layer those on top of that bottom round, frosting between and on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeAt this point, you’ll have a three layer cake with a hole in it. That’s where the surprise M&Ms are going to go ❤Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the “walls.” This will help keep the moist cake from melting the color off the M&Ms too quickly. And speaking of M&Ms…M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake…pour in almost 2 cups of them ❤ ❤ ❤M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakePlace your last intact layer of cake on top, effectively hiding all that surprise candy. Frost the cake. For a sort-of photo tutorial on that, see last week’s Cinnamon Buttercream post.M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeI decorated the top with even more M&Ms and used the last of the frosting to pipe a border. The dollops are all different sizes and I love it!M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake

Gather all your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers—really, anyone will do. Get them all around the table so they can see this amazing thing you’ve made in all it’s rainbow candy avalanche glory. This cake is delicious—with that much chocolate and butter, it has to be—but the magic is in the presentation.M&Ms Surprise CakeThen again, I was alone when I sliced this sucker open and it was still pretty damn magical. But I also took 200+ photos of it for you, so I suppose you were practically there.M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise Cake
makes 1 large 9-inch round cake

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strong, hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2-2/3 cup heavy cream

For Assembly:
1 3/4 cups M&Ms candy, plus more for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 4 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl to sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of heavy cream, until desired consistency is reached.

Assemble cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Coat the inside of the hole with a thin layer of frosting.

Fill the hole in the cake layers with M&Ms. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Decorate with more M&Ms, as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. M&Ms may lose their color over long periods of time.M&Ms Surprise Cake