Happy Pi Day, friends! To properly fête everyone’s favorite mathematical constant and favorite dessert, we’re whipping up this picture-perfect banana cream pie from baking extraordinaire and Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi. The best part? It’s lactose-free, which means all you dairy-sensitive folks can get your fill of this velvety confection. “In a standard banana cream pie, you’d use milk and heavy cream that you fold into the pie," Tosi explains to InStyle. "But bananas have such a great creaminess to them because of natural starches, so you don’t need that extra added whipped cream. In this recipe, you basically fold in an Italian meringue instead, which is egg whites and sugar and is actually better for you. You still get those deep banana flavors but an amazing lightness.”
And when it comes to buying bananas, make sure to look for the ripest of the bunch. “Let them get nearly black/brown before accepting them as the rrrrrripe bananas needed for this recipe,” Tosi advises. “At the bakery, we peel just-ripe bananas, freeze them, and then let them finish developing flavor in the freezer for two days or up to two weeks. Said rrrrrripe bananas are the difference between having your banana pie tasting like banana Laffy Taffy and the most delicious, deep banana cream pie ever.”
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Try the recipe below. What better blizzard activity is there, anyway?
Banana Cream Pie
Makes One 10-inch pie; serves 8
For the Chocolate Pie Crust
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp butter, melted
For the Banana Cream
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup dairy-sensitive milk (Tosi prefers Lactaid)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp and 2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 egg yolks, large
1/2 tsp yellow food coloring
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 egg whites, large
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1. To make the crust: Heat the oven to 300°F.
2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed.
3. Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
4. Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
5. Pulse the warm chocolate crumbs in a food processor until they are sandy and no sizeable clusters remain.
6. Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie tin. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the chocolate crust firmly into the tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered.
7. To make the banana cream: Combine the bananas and milk in a blender and puree until silky smooth.
8. Add 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks into blender mixture and continue to puree until homogenous. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Clean the blender canister.
9. Whisk the contents of the pan and heat on medium-low. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. Don’t worry!
10. Dump the contents of the pan into the clean blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and even. Color the mixture with yellow food coloring until it is a bright cartoon-banana yellow. (It’s a ton of coloring, but banana creams don’t get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp.)
11. Transfer the banana mixture to a heat-safe container, and put in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes, to cool completely.
12. As banana mixture is cooling, make the meringue. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Heat over high heat, brushing down sides of pot as necessary with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cook until sugar syrup registers 240°F on an instant read or candy thermometer.
13. Meanwhile, combine egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment; set mixer to medium speed and mix until soft peaks take shape when you pull the whisk away from the mixture, about 2 minutes.
14. With the mixer running, carefully and slowly drizzle in hot sugar syrup. Increase speed to high and whip until desired stiffness is achieved.
15. Add the cold banana mixture to the meringue mixture and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. Use to fill pie immediately.
16. Pour half of the banana cream into the chocolate crust pie shell. Cover it with a layer of sliced bananas, then cover the bananas with the remaining banana cream. Store the pie in the fridge and eat within a day of when you make it.