banana cream pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie (6 to 8 servings).

Note: Variations for coconut cream and chocolate cream pie follow.

Graham cracker crust:

1 sleeve (9 whole crackers) graham crackers

• 1/4 c. light brown sugar

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, optional

• Pinch salt

• 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

• 2 c. (1 pint) half-and-half

• 1/2 c. milk (1 or 2 percent is fine)

• 1/4 c. light brown sugar

• 1/4 c. granulated sugar

• 1/3 c. cornstarch

• 3 egg yolks, beaten

• 2 tbsp. butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 2 to 3 ripe bananas

1 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped with 2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To make pie crust: Place graham crackers in a large plastic bag, then crush the crackers with a rolling pin or bottle until there are no large pieces, but still some texture. (You also can pulse them in a food processor.)

In a medium bowl, combine crumbs, 1/4 cup brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and melted butter. Mix thoroughly until everything is uniformly moistened. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie plate. Using your fingers or the bottom of a juice glass, press the crumbs against the bottom and up the sides of the pan, making the crust as even as possible. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

To make filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half-and-half, milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks. Over medium heat and using a whisk or wooden (or heatproof) spatula, cook the mixture, stirring constantly and taking care to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble. This will take 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in butter and vanilla, and set aside to cool slightly.

Peel and slice 2 bananas into even slices about 1/4 inch thick. Cover the crust with a layer of bananas, then half the filling, spreading to the edges. Add a second layer of the banana slices, using the third banana if necessary, and cover with remaining filling.

Cover pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Before serving, top with dollops of whipped cream and additional bananas for garnish.

Variations/ Coconut cream pie variation:

Spread 1 1/2 cups of sweetened, flaked coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. In a 325-degree oven, toast the coconut, watching carefully and stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Prepare filling as directed. Omit bananas from pie shell. Stir 1 cup of the toasted coconut into the cooked filling, then pour into pie shell. Chill, then garnish with whipped cream and remaining coconut before serving.

Chocolate cream pie variation: Prepare filling as directed. When adding butter and vanilla, also stir in 8 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine, stirring until melted and no streaks remain. Pour into pie shell and chill. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate before serving.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

Calories 465 Fat 30 g Sodium 143 mg

Carbohydrates 45 g Saturated fat 18 g Calcium 126 mg

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 154 mg Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ milk, ½ fruit, 2 other carb, 6 fat.