Banana Cream Pie

2 rrrrrripe bananas

1/3 cup heavy cream

¼ cup milk

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 egg yolks

2 gelatin sheets

3 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon yellow food coloring

¾ cup heavy cream

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

You have to plan ahead for this one. Buy bananas that are ripe and then let them get nearly black/brown before accepting them as the rrrrrripe bananas needed for this recipe. Another great option: at the bakery, we peel just ripe bananas, freeze them, and then let them finish developing flavor in the freezer for 2 days or up to 2 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.

1. Combine the bananas, cream, and milk in a blender and puree until totally smooth.

2. Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks and continue to blend until homogenous. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Clean the blender canister.

3. Bloom the gelatin (below).

4. Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. 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.

5. Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and the butter and 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, I know, but banana creams don’t get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp.)

6. Transfer the banana mixture to a heatsafe container, and put in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes – as long as it takes to cool completely.

7. Using a whisk or a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar to medium-soft peaks. (When you pull the whisk away from the whipped cream, the mounds of cream hold their shape softly.) Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. Stored in an airtight container, banana cream keeps fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Powdered gelatin can be substituted for the sheet gelatin: use 1 teaspoon.

blooming the gelatin: get it right, or do it twice

In order to incorporate it seamlessly into a mixture, gelatin must be softened, or “bloomed,” first. To bloom any amount of sheet gelatin, soak it in a small bowl of cold water. The gelatin is bloomed when it has become soft, after about 2 minutes. If the gelatin still has hard bits to it, it needs to bloom longer. If it is so soft it is falling apart, it is overbloomed; discard the gelatin and start over. Gently squeweze the bloomed gelatin to remove any excess water before using.

To bloom powdered gelatin (any amount between ½ teaspoon and 2 teaspoons), sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup. If you pour the powdered gelatin into a pile on top of the water, the granules in the center will remain hard and will not bloom. If you use too much water to bloom the gelatin, it will dilute the flavor of the recipe and its consistency will be looser than intended. Allow the granules to soften entirely in the cold water for 3 to 5 minutes.

Once it is bloomed, in order to incorporate either kind of gelatin into a mixture, you need to dissolve the gelatin in hot, but not boiling, liquid – usually a bit of whatever it will be mixed into. If the gelatin gets too hot, it will lose its strength and you will have to start over again.