I spent more time this past week cooking and baking than I have in a very long time. Two of the inhabitants of my home celebrated birthdays, and I always bake the cake of choice for the birthday girl (or boy) and their requested meal.
Daughter Number 3 celebrated her birthday at the beginning of the week and I really expected her to ask for fettuccine Alfredo and some kind of chocolate cake or ice cream cake. Imagine my surprise when she asked for homemade macaroni and cheese and cherry cheesecake! You can also insert a huge amount of joy here. I would definitely rather cook and eat macaroni and cheese, and cherry cheesecake is my all-time favorite!
I don’t really stick to an exact recipe to make homemade macaroni and cheese. For this one I used Cavatappi pasta and a blend of Sharp Cheddar and Gouda cheeses. One of the great things about Mac and Cheese is that it can be a great side dish or a main course.
Midweek we celebrated another birthday. This time, it was The Hubs birthday! I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. First, he said he wanted Tiramisu. Then he quickly decided that he wanted a Banana Caramel Pie. Such a strange twist, I know. He had been watching a cooking show on television and saw a pie that he thought sounded good. So, instead of a birthday cake, I would be baking a birthday pie.
Pie baking has never been my ‘thing’. Thinking back I am pretty sure it’s because my mother had a negative opinion of her own pie baking skills. Here I had been given the task to bake a pie that I had never made before and my initial though was to go get a red box of pie crusts. That just wasn’t going to work. Not for a birthday pie! So I perused the internet and found a pie crust recipe that seemed simple. It was a butter crust. I have to say that I nailed it. It was a very flaky, delicious pie crust.
Then came the task of deciding how to do the filling. I could do the cooked caramel that The Hubs had seen on the show, or I could do another type of caramel. I chose option number 2. I have been making ‘caramel in a can’ for over a decade and absolutely love it! Never heard of ‘caramel in a can’? It is simply sweetened condensed milk, boiled until it becomes caramel. Dulce de Leche. Many cooking sites discourage making caramel this way because of the danger of it. There is a possibility of the can exploding during the process. As I said, I have made caramel this way for a very long time and personally never had any problems. I always use the utmost caution. It makes a wonderful, creamy caramel.
The only thing left to decide was what to top it with. I opted for fresh whipped cream. There really is nothing better than freshly whipped cream to top a dessert. I fell head over heels for real whipped cream in Ireland and absolutely choose it over whipped “toppings” when time permits. Below is the recipe for Caramel Banana Pie, as I put it together for “The Birthday Pie”. It was so gosh darn good I made another one today!
Banana Caramel Pie
- 1 pre-baked pie crust
- 1 can Sweetened Condensed milk (or Dulce de Leche)
- 2 large or 3 medium bananas
- 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 – 1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar
- Heath baking bits (optional)
Remove the paper from the uncooked can of condensed milk. Place unopened can in a large heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven. Pour in water to cover the can by at least 4 inches. Put on medium to medium high heat and cook for four hours. Ensure that the water does not boil off, to expose the top of the can. Refill the pan with water as necessary. At the end of the four hours, turn off pan. Remove from water and set aside to cool.
Spread the cooled caramel into the cooled pre-baked pie shell. In a medium glass bowl beat the cream and brown sugar with an electric mixer until it forms soft peaks. Slice the bananas into 1/4” slices. Lay the banana slices on top of the caramel, starting at the crust, working around the outside, and then in toward the middle. Don’t overlap the banana slices, but do not leave large spaces. Cover the bananas with the fresh whipped cream. Pile it high in the middle! Garnish with a few banana slices and Heath bits. Refrigerate to set, before serving. Makes 9-inch pie.
This is a very rich pie, but not hard to make. I hope you take the opportunity to try it. Maybe for someone’s birthday!