Serious Sweets: Bourbon and Brittle Banana Cream Pie


Banana cream pie always brings to mind those revolving fridges at diners, stockpiled with chilled desserts gussied up with from-the-can whipped cream bouffants. I love bananas—and those lit-up iceboxes—but it has never once occurred to me to order banana cream pie. It always looks jiggly and a bit sad, especially next to the buxom double-crust apple pie and the luscious chocolate silk. But it was time to give this pie some help.

I've seen banana cream pies with pastry crusts and others with crumb crusts. I'm partial to the crumbs when it comes to a chilled pie, and what better suited for bananas and cool custard than Nilla Wafers?

On their own, they're golden circles of perfection, but they truly shine when mixed with butter and brown sugar in this crust. Because it's that good, I wanted lots of it, so this pie is assembled in a springform pan, where a veritable wall of crust surrounds the filling.

For the filling itself, I started with the basics and layered banana slices with custard, but here's a grown-up twist: it's made with brown sugar to add rich toffee notes and spiked with bourbon. Finally, since slipperiness is one of banana cream pie's least attractive qualities, I added texture with crushed up peanut brittle.

You've noticed there is no actual cream in this banana cream pie. I know. But this pie doesn't need to hide under the extra fluff.