Pies over fries: Rich and decadent, this dulce de leche Banoffee Pie is instant love!
Dessert has always been a big deal for me. I’m generally a pretty clean eater who will happily order the side salad over the fries and have fresh juice or milk for breakfast. But put me face-to-face with a slice of cheesecake or a slice of apple pie with ice cream, and I’ll never be able to say no – even when I’m already full.
Since every generation changes food habits from time to time, from having fruit before dinner to consuming water during or after meals, I assume dessert at the end of a meal has stuck around for a good reason. Speaking of which, the word ‘dessert’ comes from French, where dessert is the participle of desservir, to de-serve, that is, “ to remove what has been served”. It was first used in France in 1539. Interestingly, in its original usage, dessert meant what you ate after the meal had been cleared away; fresh fruit or the kind of dried fruits and candied nuts that used to be called ‘sweetmeats’. And almost 100 years later, in the 18th century, it was borrowed into both British and American English.
I grew up learning that having something sweet after a meal is Sunnah, something which the Prophet (pbuh) used to practice. Of course, sometimes we use this as an excuse to cave in to our sweet tooth and over-indulge in post-meal dessert. Nonetheless, even just a couple of bites of something sweet after a meal is just the right way to end it. And of course, food cravings need to be honoured. I think that is how the language of food goes.
This time around, I decided to go for the easiest, quickest, most superb no-bake pie you’ll ever make. Banoffee pie is made of four simple layers – cookies, caramel, fresh bananas and whipped cream.
The first time I had this dessert was in a sleep-deprived, post-exam state in England at a friend’s place, and it was instant love. Rich, decadent and loaded with bananas, dulce de leche and whipped cream, this Banoffee Pie has everything to fix your sweet cravings! This is not a classic dulce de leche recipe, which usually involves one single ingredient that you have to cook for several hours, but instead a quick version that is halfway between caramel and toffee.
Credit for the pie’s invention goes to Ian Dowding (chef) and Nigel Mackenzie (owner) at The Hungry Monk restaurant in East Sussex. They developed the dessert in 1972, having been enthused by an American dish known as Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie, which consisted of smooth toffee topped with coffee-flavoured whipped cream. Dowding modified the recipe to use a type of soft caramel toffee created by boiling a can of condensed milk instead, and worked with Mackenzie to add a layer of bananas. They called the dish Banoffi and it was an immediate success, proving so popular with their customers that they “couldn’t take it off” the menu.
And with “meethi” (sweet) Eid not too far away, it is also the perfect thing to serve on the occasion!
Digestive biscuits: 10-15 crushed in a processor
Butter: 2 tbsp
Sweetened condensed milk: 1 tin made into dulce de leche*
Whipping cream: 1 cup whipped
Crushed cadbury flakes or grated chocolate: As per taste
1. Heat the butter in a pan and add the crushed digestive biscuits. Mix together.
2. Switch off stove and pour the biscuit mixture into a dish and pat down flat.
3. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for a couple of hours to solidify the base.
4. Pour the dulce de leche (which will now be thick yummy toffee) on top of the biscuit layer.
5. Slice bananas and lay them all over the toffee.
6. Finally, pour the whipped cream and sprinkle the chocolate. You can garnish with walnuts, but it's optional.
7. Refrigerate until chilled and serve.
*For dulce de leche, pour tin of condensed milk in a microwave bowl and keep heating and stirring before it boils over. Keep doing this till the colour changes and the texture has solidified a little.
All photos: Arhama Siddiqa
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