Banoffee, Banoffi, Either Way I Made Toffee in a Can
The more I learn about food and cooking, the more I realize just how little I actually know. Fortunately I’m hungry for knowledge and willing to try just about anything once. Naturally, this causes for some seriously frustrating moments in the kitchen but I still have all 10 fingers and the kitchen is still, for the most part, in one piece. This week, I really threatened that. I learned a very, very cool baking trick this week. Are you ready for this?? It may just blow your mind! When you boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for 2 to 4 hours, you create the most delicious toffee you have ever had. Honestly, it’s incredible. So Brett and I decided to quicken the process and place the unopened can of sweetened milk in the pressure cooker. With fingers crossed and our house insurance vendor on speed dial, we placed the pressure cooker on a high heat and let it steam for about 45 minutes. We live to cook another day and for the daringly delicious toffee, I used it in a very special pie for a very special brother.
My little brother (and very close friend) is leaving Toronto to adventure the east coast of Canada for an undetermined amount of time. He leaves this week, destined for Halifax, Nova Scotia, hoping to discover an embracing arts community and affordable apartment. My brother, Chris, is an extremely talented media artist and musician and I have no doubt that he will find success anywhere and in whatever he is doing. I encourage all readers to visit his audio podcast project Sounds Like An Earful and challenge your own perception of everyday sounds.
We’re all going to miss having “Uncle Chris” only a train ride away but we are all very excited to hear about his coming adventures. Sending him on his way, we needed to fill his stomach with a memorable, fun and, of course, delicious dessert. I decided on a Banoffi Pie.
Banoffi Pie is is an English dessert made from bananas, cream, toffee (or dulce de leche), coffee, chocolate on a pastry or cookie-based crust. Credit for the cake’s invention is to chefs of The Hungry Monk, in East Sussex, U.K. They developed the dessert in 1972 having been inspired by an American dish known as “Coffee Toffee Pie”. In 1994 a number of supermarkets began selling it as an American pie, leading the chefs of The Hungry Monk to offer a £10,000 prize to anyone who could disprove their claim by finding any published pre-1972 recipe for the pie. Mackenzie erected a blue plaque on the front of The Hungry Monk confirming it as the birthplace of the world’s favourite pudding.
There are many interpretations of the pie available on the web but I chose to use The Hungry Monk’s original recipe as direct inspiration for my own. I made a few alterations, including chocolate shavings to the top rather than ground coffee, using heavy cream in place of English double cream and instead of the original shortcrust pastry I crushed about 2 cups of digestive cookies and mixed with 4 tbsp of melted butter. Press to pie plate and freeze for 20 mins. to form.
Makes a 9″ pie
- 2 cups crushed digestive cookies
- 4tbsp melted butter
- 1 tin condensed milk (13.5 ounces)
- 3 firm bananas
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp powdered instant coffee
- 1 tsp caster sugar (caster sugar is a finer grain than granulated, if you don’t have, simply make some by grinding granulated sugar in the food processor. This also makes sugar dust, so let settle before opening the lid)
- 1/4 cup chocolate shavings
- Prepare your crust, either it be a shortcrust pastry or crushed cookies or graham crackers in your greased pie plate or spring-form pan. Chill and set.
- The secret of this delicious pudding lies in the condensed milk. Immerse the cans unopened in a deep pan of boiling water. Cover and boil for 3 hours making sure that the pan does not boil dry *(see CAUTION). Remove the tin from the water and allow to cool completely before opening. Inside you will find the soft toffee filling.
- Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle on the the instant coffee and sugar and continue to whip until thick and smooth. Now spread the toffee over the base of the crust. Peel and halve the bananas lengthways and lay them on the toffee. Finally spoon or pipe on the cream and lightly sprinkle over the chocolate shavings.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice and enjoy.
*CAUTION It is absolutely vital to top up the pan of boiling water frequently during the cooking of the cans. 3 hours is a long time and if they are allowed to boil dry the cans will explode causing a grave risk to life, limb and kitchen ceilings.
As I mentioned above, Brett and I are impatient, experimental and, at times, plain foolish people. We decided to quicken the boiling process by placing the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk (label removed) in a water bath of our pressure cooker. What we did:
Put a liter of water in the pressure cooker with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Don’t punch any holes in the can, but remove the label.
Bring the cooker to boil and wait for between 40 and 50 minutes after it begins to steam. Shorter time = lighter/softer doce. Longer time = darker/firmer doce.
Turn off the heat and wait until it cools down completely. While the cooker is pressurized by the steam, its pressure will counter balance the pressure build up inside the can, and prevent it from exploding. Let everything cool down before opening the pressure cooker. If you attempt to open a hot, or even warm can, an extremely hot jet of dolce may explode out and result in severe burns. Wait until it is cool; then it will be perfectly safe to open the can and enjoy this great dessert. We brought the can to room temperature, then placed it in the fridge for an entire night before opening.
Christopher,thanks for my kitchen Buddha. You’ve always managed to so effortlessly keep me calm(er) and focused with everything I do. While you’re out in the world taking care of yourself, I’m glad I have him to remind me to just breathe and think of our larger goals.
Good luck, little brother! I know you’ll be amazing in everything you do. Just remember: always eat your fiber for breakfast, don’t skip your vitamins and you always, ALWAYS have a hot meal waiting for you at our house, just in case.
Visit ChrisPostill.com and the fundraising page for Sounds Like an Earful, an important audio podcast opening your mind to the brilliance of sound. You can donate as much or as little to the cause but just remember, every penny spent on independent artists is like banoffi pie for your soulAdd to favorites