My friend Celena, who blogs at Skirt.com, has started a food/beer pairing challenge with the blogger from On Beer and Drinking, and for her chocolate challenge, she asked me to provide a recipe. While flipping through my Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook, I came across Hung’s Chocolate Pie with Bananas, which, with its chocolate mousse filling and banana-rum topping, was one of the top three dishes in the pastry quickfire. I sent the recipe to Celena, confident that I could also make the pie myself for a post.
But if you remember Season 3, Hung’s pie didn’t set up in time, and neither did mine. (I hope Celena had better luck!) So I turned my chocolate pie into a chocolate layer cake with chocolate mousse, crushed up nut crust, chocolate mousse again, and fresh bananas.
Still, don’t discount this recipe because I messed up. The chocolate mousse filling and banana topping with rum both had a great flavor, so I know this would be a delicious pie with a few minor tweaks to my execution.
There are three layers to this recipe, which require you to do the following: make the crust (if you decide to make your own); mix the chocolate mousse filling, which includes whipping heavy cream and eggs separately and making a sugar syrup; and sauté the banana topping. Now before you start, there are five ways you can make sure your Chocolate Pie with Bananas is better than mine:
1) Don’t get fancy with the crust if you’re inexperienced with pies. Instead of using a pre-made crust, like the recipe recommends, or making a regular pastry crust, I put together a nut crust from Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen. It was an oily (though still tasty) crust, and, it was too thick when I pressed all of it into my tart pan. What can I say, I like to experiment. But because I’m not experienced with pies, next time I’ll make a regular crust.
2) Don’t over-whip your cream. As I said in my chocolate truffles post from last week, I had never used heavy cream before, and, to make this pie, I whipped heavy cream for the first time. (Whipped cream is used in the chocolate mousse filling.) When my cream still didn’t look like it had whipped enough, I turned to face the stove for a few seconds, and then turned back to find that my whipped cream looked like butter. Now I know that cream goes from not-whipped-enough to over-whipped in seconds so watch it closely.
3) Don’t overfill your pie shell. This tip seems simple enough, but I still thought that it would be ok to fill my pie crust with chocolate filling until it hit just below the tip of the crust. Because my nut crust was so thick, I still had a lot of filling leftover at that point. But this is much too high – I had filling seeping out over the sides. So pay careful attention to how high you are filling your pie.
4) Don’t top your pie with the banana mixture until it has cooled. I couldn’t wait for this step, so my bananas sunk right into the pie instead of sitting on top in a pretty yellow layer. (Honestly, because I over-whipped my cream, I don’t think my chocolate mousse mixture ever set up as it should. I’m sure this was also a problem when I got to the banana step.)
5) If you decide to turn your unset pie into a layer cake, do so right before serving. See the picture at the top of this post on the right? That’s my layer cake. I was so proud of myself for saving my pie by rethinking the way I presented it. I put the layer cake together on Saturday, sampled it, and decided it was pretty good. The nut crust added a nice crumbly texture to the smooth mousse. But after sitting in the refrigerator all night before being served on Mother’s Day, the nut crust sunk in to the chocolate mousse, and I was left with a wet pudding that had wheat germ-like crumbles in it. This pie was not a hit. So if you need to turn your pie into a layer cake, put it together right before serving.
Now the recipe:
Hung’s Chocolate Pie with Bananas
from Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
½ cup water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
One 9-inch frozen piecrust, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
4 bananas, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
½ cup dark rum, such as Myer’s
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or metal bowl set over, but not touching, simmering water in a saucepan. Remove from heat and fold in the whipped cream.
- Stir the water and granulated sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture registers 325 F on a candy thermometer and is syrupy, about 8 minutes. (I would just set a timer for 8 minutes.)
- In a stand mixer, beat the eggs on high speed until frothy. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer should be fine.) Add the sugar mixture in a gradual stream while the machine is running. Whip until stiff. Fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat an oven to 375 F. Bake the piecrust until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the bananas, rum***, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Cook until the bananas soften and the liquid thickens, about 5 minutes.
- To assemble, fill the cooled piecrust with the chocolate mixture. Top with the bananas, spreading them easily to the edges of the pie. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.