...banana fanna fo fanoffi, fee fie mo manoffi, Banoffi!
I have to admit that when I first saw the "What's for Pud?" post by Sam and Monkey Gland which asked bloggers to whip up an English pudding (aka "dessert" in American English) to celebrate St. George's Day, I was less than enthusiastic. The names of the puddings, though amusing, did not exactly titillate my taste buds. Spotted Dick, Eton Mess, Lardy Cake, Ginger Nuts were but a few of the examples Sam listed on her blog.
Then I spotted Banoffi (also spelled Banoffee) Pie. Banoffi Pie is a sweet pastry crust filled with dulce de leche and sliced bananas and topped with a cloud of whipped cream and a dusting of ground coffee or shaved chocolate.The name is a portmanteau, a blend of the words "banana" and "toffee." There were two reasons I decided to make this particular pudding. First of all, when, I reasoned, would I ever again get the opportunity to use the word portmanteau?
The other reason was that, unlike the other "puds" on the list, I had actually tasted this one before. Last summer, N and I tucked into a slice of this gooey pudding while perched on rickety stools at New York's Spotted Pig, as far as I know the only bona fide gastropub this side of the Pond. We liked chef April Bloomfield's rendition of Banoffi Pie (see her recipe here) so much that we licked our plate clean even though our bellies were overflowing with smoked haddock chowder, pumpkin and pecorino salad, enough chicken liver mousse to fill a derby hat, and pan-fried kidneys from what was surely a herd of calves.
Using the original recipe created in 1972 by the owners of the Hungry Monk, a pub in East Sussex, England, the Banoffie Pie I made was a sticky mess of deliciousness. As you can see from the picture above, my pie was rather impressive looking before I sliced it. Unfortunately, I hadn't chilled it enough by the time my friends arrived for our impromptu "tea party," so the dulce de leche flowed over our plates like primordial ooze. My pudding became a puddle! What the dessert lacked in appearance (hence no pictures of the final slice!), though, it made up for in sticky sweetness. Mary Poppins herself would surely have declared my Banoffi Pie scrum-dilly-icious!
One note on making dulce de leche. The most common way to make this caramel custard is to heat unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in a pot full of boiling water for 4-5 hours. Be careful to keep the cans covered with an inch or two of water.
The nanny of my friend S (S, by the way, just returned to San Francisco from a few months hiatus at her home in Madrid) once did the unthinkable. She accidentally let the water covering the cans boil away. The pressure built up inside the cans and then, S recalls, she heard a loud boom! boom! boom! She and her gaggle of brothers and sisters dashed to the kitchen and found dulce de leche dripping off the ceiling, down the walls, even inside light fixtures. They spent the next several hours happily licking everything in sight. So, unless you have a house full of children, make sure you keep the cans covered with water at all times! (Or simply avoid the whole issue by following the instructions on the can for making dulce de leche in the oven).
Happy St. George's Day, Sam, MG, and any other English readers out there!