We’ve paired Essensia Orange Muscat with all kinds of desserts and pies, but until this past Thanksgiving, there was one pie we’d never thought to pair it with: banana cream! Lettie Teague’s article in the Wall Street Journal changed all that when she reviewed several sweet dessert wines with holiday pies and picked banana cream for Essensia. In our many years of making sweet wines, and producing Essensia since 1980, we’d never tried this pairing with such a classic American pie!
This banana cream pie recipe from Allie Quady came together through bakery trips, research, and of course, good old-fashioned experimentation:
I was impatient to try the pairing, so I went down the street to my favorite neighborhood pie shop, Lauretta Jean’s in Portland where I live, and bought three slices of banana cream pie to share with my family that evening.
Essensia is a bit spicy for a dessert wine in that it has some tannins and phenolics that remind you of orange marmalade, only sweeter. It is very rich; the high acidity also makes it stand out and relieves it from being cloying in any way. To me this is not an everyday wine, it is for special occasions and it is made to savor slowly.
Banana cream pie at its best is incredibly soft, smooth and creamy, like a sweet pudding, a lullaby. Banana cream is to Essensia what peanut butter is to jelly – the perfect foil for something highly sweet and tart. I was so delighted with the pairing that I didn’t do my usual slow, savoring sipping of Essensia. I poured myself a second glass and then finished that too, until every bite of pie was gone. This was most unusual for me, the slow-drinking “black sheep” of the family.
I knew I had to make that pie. And I couldn’t think of a better pie to try and emulate than Lauretta Jean’s. I found a video of the Lauretta Jean’s owner making chocolate cream pie (also delicious) and was able to adapt it for banana cream pie pretty easily. I also found a homemade crust recipe – because the delicious pastry crust is part of the experience. And voila! I made a close-to-perfect homemade banana cream pie, and it was indeed a perfect pairing with Essensia for our Thanksgiving table. I’ve since made two more banana cream pies and think I might just go and make another! When I think of what a revelation this pairing was for us, I am tickled to think about all the other amazing dessert pairings we still haven’t tried! I hope you enjoy this banana cream pie recipe. We’d love to know what you think, and do you have a favorite Essensia pairing that you think we should know about?
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce cornstarch
4 eggs, separated
3 ripe (but not mushy) bananas
1¼ cup heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Follow the steps listed in the links above for chosen pie crust recipe. Once your crust is made, pre-bake it using these instructions from King Arthur Flour. Note: Make sure to fully pre-bake the crust, not just partially pre-bake.
Once the crust is pre-baked, put an egg wash on it by brushing on a bit of the separated egg whites over the entire bottom of the crust. Then put it in the oven for 1 minute, just to set the wash, and take it out again. This will keep your crust from getting soggy.
Check out this video to watch how the Lauretta Jean’s owner makes pastry cream (but don’t add the chocolate for this banana cream pie recipe).
Put approximately 2 2/3 cups milk into a saucepan. Add 2/3 cup of white sugar. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Turn the burner on to medium-low and heat and whisk ingredients.
In a separate bowl, add cornstarch. Add the 4 egg yolks to the cornstarch, then add the remainder of the milk. Whisk until there are no lumps of cornstarch.
Whisk the heated milk again, continually whisking as it heats. When it begins to steam, you are ready to temper the yolks. The milk should be steaming a lot and needs to be kept steamy (not boiling). You might need to alternate turning the burner off if it gets too hot, and then back on again to keep it from cooling off. If the milk is not steaming enough, you will need to whisk a lot longer in step 5.
With one hand, start whisking the egg yolks, and with the other, pour about a third of the heated milk into the egg yolks to temper them, leaving most of the milk in the heated saucepan.
Next pour the tempered yolks into the saucepan of heated milk, whisking constantly with the burner on low to keep the milk steaming. Whisk until it gets nice and thick; it should take a few minutes, whisking constantly, but if your milk is not hot enough it will take much longer. (The last time I made this I had to whisk for about 15 minutes because my milk wasn’t hot enough. As it got steamier, it finally started to thicken). This cooks your eggs, thickens your pastry cream and cooks your cornstarch. Once the cream mixture is thick, take it off the heat, let it cool a little, then whisk again so that it is nice and smooth and doesn’t form a skin.
Press some plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream so that it is entirely covered and won’t form a skin. Put in the refrigerator.
Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk cold heavy cream, sugar and vanilla on medium-low speed for several seconds.
Increase speed to high and whisk until peaks form and whipped cream is thick and spreadable. Do not over whisk.
Just before assembly, slice bananas into thin rounds.
Spread a thin layer of pastry cream on the cooled, pre-baked pie crust. (Make sure you have fully pre-baked the crust and that you’ve done the egg wash. See above.)
Place banana slices in a single layer, covering the pastry cream.
Spread another layer of pastry cream on top of the bananas.
Add a second layer of bananas and continue alternating layers of pastry cream and bananas.
End with a layer of pastry cream.
Add the whipped cream on top, making it smooth and even, and if you want to, use the back of your spoon to create swishes in the top. Put in the refrigerator to chill until ready to serve.
Looking for more yummy dessert recipes? Try our Triple Chocolate Port Wine Cake and our No-Bake Cheesecake! And don’t forget to share your thoughts and your own pairings with us on social by tagging @quadywinery.