Sunday, June 24, 2012

Easiest Pie Ever

I don't know anyone who doesn't like Banoffee Pie.  It's not posh, it's not sophisticated, it's hugely sweet, but somehow It Just Works.  The weirdest thing is, I only had it for the first time ever a couple of years ago.  And that's weird, because whilst I do love spending Hours And Hours on ultra-fiddly sweeties, the truth is that even I don't want to do that every time I fancy dessert.  And this has got to be one of the easiest desserts around.

I almost didn't post this, because honestly there's so little to it, it's not original, and it wasn't complete perfection anyway.  The pastry recipe I used is probably not what I would use for this in future - something a bit lighter, sweeter and more biscuitty might be better.  I know some people use a biscuit base for banoffee, but I'm not a big fan of that.  I think a really good pastry is the go.

However.  There was one thing I did do that I haven't seen in any other Banoffee Pie recipe, and it was A Triumph.  Quite simply, instead of topping the pie with plain (or in some recipes, sweetened) whipped cream, I chose to give the pie a double banana hit by adding some to the cream.  It Was Awesome.

Also, I've recently discovered The Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, and I really wanted to join in this month.  And lo and behold, this month's theme (hosted by The Kitchen Crusader) is Pie.  And I had a jar of dulce de leche all ready to go in the fridge.

I figured it was fate...

By the way, I do apologise for the lack of useful ingredient quantities in this recipe.  It's really more of an assembly than a recipe, so there's a fair amount of room for personal preference...  Just make sure you have plenty of bananas (I would allow at least one whole decent-sized banana per 2 serves).  I've included a quantity for the sweetened condensed milk only because I don't see the point in cooking any less than that at once.  You may or may not use it all, depending on how big your pie is.

Double-Banana Banoffee Pie

Your favourite sweet shortcrust pastry recipe and the wherewithal to make it.

2 tins sweetened condensed milk
Bananas for slicing

70g fresh banana (extra)
125g Double cream
1 tsp Vanilla paste (plus a little extra for drizzling, if desired)

Modus Operandi
For the dulce de leche:  Empty both tins of condensed milk into a baking dish, cover with foil, and set the dish in a larger baking tray.  Add boiling water to the tray until it reaches more than half-way up the side of the baking dish.  Bake at 220 degrees Celsius until the milk has caramelised (at least 1 1/2 hours, but probably closer to 2 hours).  Store in the refrigerator.  Note:  This part can be made a few weeks ahead of time, which then makes this pie not only really easy, but really quick also.

Make your pastry, line a pie plate or individual tart tins with it, and bake blind.  Note that this is the pie's only time in the oven, so the pastry must be completely cooked.  Cool.

For the banana cream:  Puree the banana in a food processor or with a stick blender.  Add the cream and whip until soft peaks are reached.  Stir the vanilla paste through gently.

Assemble!  Spoon dulce de leche into the pastry case/s until around two-thirds full.  Top with lots of sliced banana, and then with a dollop of banana cream.  Drizzle with extra vanilla paste if you like.

Now go check out all the other pie recipes in this months' Hop - there's enough pastry-encased goodness there to get you through a whole winter!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Buzzy Bee Bento

The Muffin's school lunch:  Happy Bee sandwiches (Vegemite and cheese) with cheese & nori details, Yoghurt with a dried-apricot-and-craisin flower,  carrot flowers, and a banana.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Muffin Tin Monday - Ponies & A Nutcracker

Another catch-up post!  Firstly, last week's Muffin Tin Monday:  The Muffin has been really getting into her ballet lately.  Seems like every weekend is a full-scale production of The Nutcracker Suite in our lounge room (complete with costume changes).  Even Husband is roped into both performance and audience duties!  So anyway, last week The Muffin requested a Nutcracker themed tin...

Top Row:  Spinach leaf Christmas Tree with cheese & ham Baubles;  Smarties (representing The Kingdom Of Sweets).
Middle Row:  Two nut-free Sugarplums (recipe coming soon);  Ballet shoe sandwich with ham detail.
Bottom Row:  Pear Snowflakes;  Fresh Mango with a home-made Nutcracker pick.

I made the pick by cutting the little soldier out of a piece of scrapbooking paper and sticking it onto a toothpick.

The After Shot:
A very surprising result - usually she adores mango!  But this day she said she wasn't keen on it.  Quite strange, as it was a really nice mango.  Anyway, Husband was quite happy to polish off her leftovers.  :o)

Now, fast forward one week to today...

The Muffin has always loved My Little Pony, and yesterday she had her first taste of the new MLP show "Friendship is Magic".  I must say we have not been at all keen on the new style of My Little Ponies.  The toys actually look okay, but the pictures (on the boxes, plus other merchandise like clothing etc) look Weird.  Seriously, Pinkie Pie looks slightly insane.  Even my five-year-old tends to say "oh DEAR, they look WEIRD, Mummy."  Having said that, we must have warmed to them a little over time, because I must say we both really enjoyed the show.
**One little warning though if you're thinking of watching it with a Very young child:  we watched the first two episodes of the show, and some parts of it were really scary for my daughter.  She actually ended up curled up in a ball saying "I don't want to watch this!", so I had to skip part of one scene.  That's actually why we watched two episodes:  the two episodes spanned one story arc, and the first ended at a scary part, which was then resolved in the second.  I needed her to watch both, and see that it all turned out okay, because I really didn't want her having nightmares over it!**
Anyway, whilst she found parts of it scary, she did like it over all, and enjoyed the resolution.  I really liked the message behind it, too - it is all about learning the importance of friendship, and how friendship works.  It's also possible that future episodes may not be so scary (Twilight Sparkle having been given the mission to stay in Ponyville and "learn all about friendship"), but certainly what we saw was a very different My Little Pony than what we were used to from the days of Sweetie Belle, Starsong and Toola Roola!

Aaaaaanyway - didn't really mean to make this a movie review!  What this is all leading up to is:  today The Muffin suggested a My Little Pony theme, and as there are six core characters in this new series of Ponies, we decided to base our Muffin Tin on them:-

Top Row:   Cheese birds with a music note pick, representing Fluttershy (this pony represents Kindness, and likes to look after small animals.  At one stage she was conducting a choir of little birds);  Winged-pony-shaped fairy bread, representing Rainbow Dash (who is now a pegasus pony, and the fastest one in Ponyville!);  Chocolate heart (one of The Muffin's Easter chocolates - yes, they're still going!), representing Pinkie Pie, who loves parties and all things pink!

Bottom Row:  Yoghurt with purple sprinkles, representing Rarity (Rarity is white with a purple mane.  The Muffin did the sprinkles - she was going for a diamond shape in the middle, which is Rarity's cutie mark.  As Husband Very Helpfully said, "ooh, look, the Eye of Sauron!");  Apple-shaped pieces of apple, representing Applejack;  Bread and Vegemite book, with rice paper pages and a bit of edible glitter, representing Twilight Sparkle.  This pony loves to read, and she is the main character of the show (or at least of these first two episodes).

She ate it all.

And I can see that there will be more episodes of Friendship Is Magic in my future...

To check out what other lucky kids ate today, click on over to The Muffin Tin Mom's blog!

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