Friday, March 14, 2014

Layered Banana Split Cream Cheese Pie - Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day everyone!  This is the first year I have actually come up with something for this day.  I have thought about this dessert for some time and debated the best way to do it.  Should I make separate batches for each flavor or one big batch, divided?  I decided to go with one big batch, divided.  I did end up making an extra mini batch to deal with an issue with bromelaine.  That's the enzyme in fresh pineapple.  It causes gelatin not to gel, acts as a meat tenderizer and reacts with cream to produce a very bitter flavor.  I forgot that important fact, but fortunately figured it out before I added the final layer to my pie.  You can denature the enzyme by cooking your pineapple a bit, but I decided that banana splits most often use a cooked or canned topping anyway and so I chose to use a tin of crushed pineapple.  If you want fresh, remember to heat it first and add a few tablespoons of sugar if necessary.  158ºF will neutralize the enzyme.

This is a no bake, light and creamy cheese pie.  You can make it in a deep dish pie pan or a spring form.  I love my spring form pan and thought the slices would show the layers better that way as well as being easier to cut and remove.  I decided to use brown sugar in the crust for a hint of caramel flavor.  Oh yes, I almost always stabilize my whipped cream for dessert topping.  You can find directions on how to do that in this post.  I used ¼ tsp gelatin for today's 1 cup cream topping rosettes.

Banana Split Cream Cheese Pie
serves 10-12

9 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
2 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted

24 oz. cream cheese (3 bricks), softened to room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1¼ cups heavy cream
pinch fine sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla
¼ cup milk or water
4 tsp gelatin (I like this brand because it is very fine and dissolves nicely as well as being grass fed)

Layer one:
1 large banana
1 tsp lemon juice 
2 tsp honey

Layer two:
5 oz. strawberries
1-2 tbsp sugar

Layer three:
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Optional toppings:
sliced bananas, treated with lemon juice to prevent browning
sliced strawberries
chocolate sauce
caramel sauce
chopped peanuts 
maraschino cherries (Tillen Farms makes a supreme version with no corn syrup and no artificial colors!)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and sugar until they are fine crumbs.  Slowly drizzle in the butter and pulse to combine.  Press the mixture into the bottom of your spring form, or on the bottom and sides of a deep dish pie pan.

Bake for about 8 minutes until just slightly golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Before starting the filling, put the ¼ cup milk or water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand until the gelatin is bloomed or softened.  A few minutes.  Microwave it for 30 seconds or heat in a small saucepan until the gelatin is fully dissolved.  Set it aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the filling flavors:
Mash the bananas together with the lemon juice and honey and set aside with a piece of cling film pressed against the surface.  

Mash or puree the strawberries with the sugar and set aside in another bowl.  The amount of sugar needed will depend on the sweetness of the strawberries.  Pureed will give a uniform color and hand mashed will leave pretty chunks.  Your choice.

Make sure the pineapple is well drained.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt for a couple minutes until smooth and creamy.  Stop to scrape down the sides once or twice.  Add the cream a bit at a time and beat light and fluffy, another couple minutes, scraping sides again.  Add the gelatin mixture and vanilla and beat for a final few minutes until smooth and airy.  Divide the filling into three equal parts.  (I weighed mine out for this.)  

Fold the banana mixture into the first portion and spread over your cooled crust.  Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Now fold the strawberries into the next portion of filling and carefully scrape out onto the first layer.  Gently spread the filling evenly over the top and return to the fridge for another 10 minutes.

Fold the pineapple into the final portion of filling and carefully spread over the first two layers.  Chill until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Decorate the pie with the desired optional toppings.

Whip the cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.  Scrape into a piping bag or ziploc bag with a large star tip and pipe rosettes or ribbons around the border of the pie and center.  Top with sprinkles and a cherry if desired.


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