Archives for category: pies/tarts

Banoffee pie. One of the few culinary successes from our friends across the pond, banoffee pie is a British dessert composed of bananas and toffee atop a graham cracker crust. The name is a portmanteau: BANana + tOFFEE = banoffee. Unlike the accents of the people who created it, banoffee pie is not what I would call a “sexy” dessert. It lacks the sleekness of ganache, or the rustic beauty of a lattice crust, or the precision of perfectly piped frosting. The toffee might run. The bananas may slide all over the place. A perfectly intact slice of this pie may never make it onto a plate, but you’ll have to make your peace with that because this pie is, as the Brits would say, bloody brilliant. America, get on board.

Did I mention how easy this is to make? The toffee filling is made by letting an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk sit in boiling water for 2.5-3 hours. It’s important to make sure that the can is covered with water at all times, otherwise it can explode. This was a very stressful 2.5 hours for me, because the biggest pot I had was just deep enough to cover the can with water, so I kept going back and adding more water, all the while being fully prepared to dodge molten caramel in the event of an explosion. This stress can be avoided by using a deeper pot, like a pasta pot, and leaving several inches of water above the can.

Once the toffee is made and cooled, the only thing left to do is pour it over a pre-baked graham cracker crust, slice a few bananas over it, top it with whipped cream and sprinkle some chocolate chips/cocoa powder over the whole thing. Then let it chill in the fridge for at least a couple hours (or even overnight) in order to let everything set. Easy as pie!

Now for the stracciatella part. Traditional banoffee pie calls for chocolate of some form being sprinkled on top, but I don’t believe in putting things on the invitation that aren’t actually going to be at the party. I wasn’t about to just not put the chocolate on top though, so I decided to put it in the pie too! I poured the toffee filling onto the crust while it was still a little warm, and then poured some chocolate chips on top and swirled them around in the toffee. The remaining heat from the toffee partially melted the chips, and then I put the whole thing in the fridge to cool completely before adding the bananas and whipped cream. During the cooling process, the semi-melted chocolate chip swirls re-solidified, and the result was…crunchy chocolate swirls. Just like my favorite flavor of gelato!

You can also make a low-fat version of this by using fat-free sweetened condensed milk, but I’ve never tried making toffee with that. From what I’ve read, it works, but may not taste as rich as the full-fat stuff. Shocking.

Stracciatella Banoffee Pie recipe

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or digestive biscuit crumbs, which is actually what I used)
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Combine the melted butter and vanilla extract. Toss mixture together with graham cracker crumbs until fully combined.

Press crumbs evenly into 9″ pie plate. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.


For the toffee filling:

  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Remove labels from can and place in a deep pot (a pasta pot would work well) and cover completely with water (there should be at least a couple inches of water above the top of the can). Place pot on stove over low-medium heat, and boil for 3 hours. Check the pot every so often to make sure the water level is well above the top of the can. After 3 hours, carefully remove can from water and allow it to cool (this itself can take an hour or so). Once cooled, open can and stir to make sure the toffee is smooth.


Assembling the pie:

  • 1 pre-baked graham cracker crust
  • 14 oz. toffee filling
  • 2-3 bananas, sliced
  • handful of chocolate chips (plus more for sprinkling on top of whipped cream)
  • lightly sweetened whipped cream (the amount is up to you, depending on how thick a layer of whipped cream you want!)

Once the toffee is nearly cooled, pour over pre-baked crust. Sprinkle on a handful of chocolate chips, and swirl into the filling (be careful not to break the crust when doing this!). Place the crust+filling into the fridge for 15-20 minutes to allow the toffee to finish cooling completely.

Remove pie from fridge and add sliced bananas on top of toffee filling. You can try to incorporate them into the filling a little if you want, or just leave them laying on top. Then top with whipped cream, sprinkle with a few chocolate chips, and put back in the fridge for an hour, or until ready to serve! The longer this pie chills, the better it sets, and the easier it will be to slice!


This is the third and final Fathers Day recipe. Making desserts for my dad is tricky business, because he only likes certain kinds of desserts. He will swoon over key lime pie, but put a chocolate lava cake in front of him and his spoon will be untouched. Note to self: “share” more chocolate lava cakes with Dad.

My little sister went to Paris on a French class trip this past April, and in addition to buying me a shot glass and zero pairs of cute boots, she bought herself a French cookbook (and 2 pairs of cute boots), thinking that she would help me bake things from it. When my sister decides to help me bake, things can go one of two ways:

Option 1:

Little sister: Does this recipe have chocolate chips in it?                                                               Me: Nope                                                                                                                                      Little sister: K, gotta go.

Option 2:

Little sister: Does this recipe have chocolate chips in it?                                                             Me: Yes                                                                                                                                     Little sister: K, I just have to go get something, I’ll be right back                                                          *30 minutes later, upon hearing the telltale crinkle of the bag of chocolate chips being opened*     Little sister: Sorry, that took longer than I thought! Soooo, do you still need help?

This recipe does not have chocolate chips.

This galette tastes much, much better than it looks. The first time I heard the word “frangipane”, I was immediately suspicious, because it sounded a lot like “marzipan”, which I detest. Turns out, both involve almonds, but the key difference is that one of them is delicious and the other is gross.

Plus, making a frangipane tart is totally relevant to my upcoming plans, and to this blog, since the word “frangipane” derives from the Italian phrase frangere il pane, which means “break the bread”. It is also the surname of a very notable Roman family from the Middle Ages. I will find their descendants and make them this tart when I get there.

Things I would do differently next time I make this:

1) Make more of the crust

2) Don’t roll the crust so thin

3) Leave at least a 3-inch border of crust around the filling

Pate Brisee recipe (Adapted from Joy of Baking)

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and sliced into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 cup cold water

In a food processor, mix the flour, salt and sugar. Add in the butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water bit by bit until the dough begins to hold together. Remove the dough from the food processor and place it on work surface. Gather it into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour (I actually left it in there for 3 hours). Use this time to make the frangipane and prepare the apples!

Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on rolling surface.  (I use parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter, but a generous sprinkling of flour would do the same thing. Don’t forget to flour the rolling pin too!) Roll the dough out until it is uniformly thick (the actual thickness is up to you, but next time I definitely won’t let mine get thinner than slightly less than 1/4”). Once you are happy with the thickness of your dough, transfer it to your baking sheet, because once you add the filling, it will be very hard to move it.

Spread the frangipane filling in the center, leaving at least a 3″ border of crust. Add the apples on top, and fold up the crust around the sides, pinching it together where necessary.

Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden-brown, and apples are soft.

Frangipane recipe (adapted from Joy of Baking)

  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, or 1/8 tsp. vanilla beans
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (I used slivered almonds, so that I didn’t have to blanch them and peel them first)
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Combine butter and sugar using electric mixer, then beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Add almonds and flour and stir until mixture forms a paste.


  • 3-4 apples (I used golden delicious)
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Peel and core the apples, then cut into eighths. If you prefer bigger/smaller slices of apple, then don’t cut them into eighths! Once the frangipane and apples have been spread on the crust, and the crust has been folded up, sprinkle the granulated sugar over the whole tart before baking.

Serve warm or at room temperature! Or cold from the fridge the next day when you are pretending to get a glass of water!