Note: Is there anything more glorious than a mountainous banana cream pie? Test Kitchen Director Donna Deane whipped this one together for a story on meringues, and it is truly a monumental version.
Making meringue toppings can be a little tricky. Deane recommends a few steps to ensure success. Before beginning, make sure your whipping bowl and beaters are completely free of grease. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature. Add the sugar gradually rather than all at once. And whip the egg whites to stiff peaks; when you lift the beater out, a pointed peak should be left behind.
Active Work Time: 1 hour Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
To make one of those glorious mile-high cream pies, multiply the Basic Meringue recipe by 1 1/2.
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Master Pie Shell, baked
2 bananas, sliced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
* Combine sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour in medium saucepan. Stir in milk until blended. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture begins to simmer and thicken. Boil 1 minute. Add a little hot mixture to yolks and return all yolk mixture to pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Cover custard with plastic wrap and cool slightly.
* Spoon half of custard into Master Pie Shell. Top with banana slices. Spoon remaining custard over top of bananas, spreading evenly over top.
* Spoon and swirl Meringue over top of pie. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
8 servings. Each serving: 368 calories; 323 mg sodium; 113 mg cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 54 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.19 gram fiber.
Variation: You can make delicious Graham Cracker Cream Pies using the Banana Cream Pie recipe. Make Filling for Banana Cream Pie recipe, omitting bananas and almonds. Crush 10 whole graham crackers and combine all but 2 tablespoons of them in a bowl with 1/4 cup sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter to make crumbly mixture. Pat that mixture into 9-inch pie plate and bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes. Let cool before filling. Spoon in cream filling, then top with Basic Meringue. Sprinkle with reserved graham cracker crumbs before baking. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Master Pie Shell
Active Work Time: 10 minutes Total Preparation Time: 20 minutes
1 cup flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening or lard
2 to 3 tablespoons water
* Stir together flour and salt in large glass bowl. Cut shortening into flour until evenly distributed and particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with water and gently stir with fork until water is blended into pastry and dough begins to form a ball; use your hands to shape.
* Roll dough out on lightly floured board to 11-inch diameter and lift into 9-inch pie plate, gently pressing dough into bottom and against sides of plate. Flute edges and trim. Prick all over with fork.
* Bake at 475 degrees until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
Makes 1 (9-inch) single-crust pie shell.
Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 15 minutes
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
* Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in mixing bowl. Beat until foamy, about 30 seconds. Continue beating on medium-high speed until egg whites form soft peaks, about 30 seconds. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until stiff peaks form and meringue has a glossy look and sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes.
Makes Meringue for 1 (9-inch) pie.