Banoffee pie is a delicious banana, caramel and cream pie with a biscuit or cracker crumb base. It was first created in East Sussex in England in 1971.
This cake is not a banana cream pie, the most popular American banana pie. It boasts distinct layers of sliced bananas and caramel topped with cream. This sweet toffee filling is distinctly different from the pudding layer of a banana cream pie.
What is the British dish ‘banoffee pie’?
This British dessert can be described as a banana caramel pie, or a banana toffee pie. It gets its name by combining the words ‘banana’ and ‘toffee.’
Kudos to the creators of this mouth watering banoffee title, we now associate with this ever so sweet and delicious cake.
Sometimes you’ll see this cake name spelled as banoffi. I like to end the title with a double -ee, in recognition of the all important toffee layer. Only caramel or toffee can give this pie its distinctive layers, texture and flavor.
Banoffee pie is served as a dessert all over Ireland and is available in many restaurants and cafés. It is truly an English dessert, but Irish and British baking traditions share many recipes and techniques.
This sweet treat is made with a buttery biscuit base or a crumbled digestive biscuit crust. A graham cracker crust is a perfect substitute when making this pie using American ingredients.
Bananas are layered with caramel that is made with condensed milk or a dulce de leche. Heavy whipping cream is piled on top with chocolate drizzle creating the final touch.
Some recipes add a chocolate or coffee layer,. Today I’m sharing a simple, no-fuss, easy banoffee pie, a favorite Irish dessert.
Some people ask what is the tastiest dessert in the world, and for many banoffee pie is their immediate answer. Today, you can discover this great British baking classic, with my recipe, which has been tried and tested for American cooks.
What are some of the great easy-to make Irish or British desserts?
Which kind of pie is the tastiest?
What is considered a typical dessert in Ireland and the UK?
What is the best European dessert?
The answer all depends on the cakes and desserts you were accustomed to as a child.
If you’re looking for some of the most popular desserts from around the world, then banoffee pie belongs on that list. It’s definitely in the top ten best ever British desserts category, plus it’s one of my favorite desserts. Chocolate biscuit cake is another favorite, no bake British cake you might enjoy.
Banoffee pie deserves an award as an easy, no bake dessert, when you’re using Irish or British ingredients to make the caramel layer. Things get a little more complicated when making this treat in America.
When trying out an English recipe for this amazing dessert you may be disappointed with your end result. Mary Berry’s Banoffee Pie recipe, when used in the United States, results in a runny toffee layer, that seldom sets properly.
Believe me – I’ve experienced the disappointment of a toffee layer that refuses to thicken. I’ve seen how a banoffee pie can collapse when cut with a knife and the discouraging sweet caramel pool on the bottom of the plate when the pie is cut.
But do not fear! I’ve got you covered with my banoffee pie recipe, tweaked for cooking success in America.
The Origins of Banoffee Pie
This famous dessert was first created in England way back in 1971. It was the brain child of Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding, the owner and chef of The Hungry Monk Restaurant in East Sussex.
They experimented with a condensed milk caramel layer and different fruits. Once they discovered their perfect banana and toffee combination a dessert sensation was born. The dish became so popular it featured in a cookbook with their restaurant recipes in 1974.
A banoffee pie craze was born and its popularity spread all over the British Isles, including Ireland.
The Best Crust for Banoffee Pie
The original banoffee pie recipe from the Hungry Monk called for a traditional baked crust, homemade caramel sauce and coffee-flavored whipped cream.
I’ve had banoffee pie with a pastry crust and with a crumbed biscuit or cracker crust. I prefer the simpler, easy to make crumbled graham cracker crust.
In England, digestive biscuits are used, but when using American ingredients simply substitute graham crackers.
The cracker crumbs can be created in a food processor and combined with melted butter. You can also crush the crackers in a plastic zip top bag using a rolling pin.
How to make caramel using condensed milk?
The key to good banoffee pie is a perfectly set caramel layer topped with sliced bananas.
The original recipe used sweetened condensed milk to make a creamy, sticky caramel layer,
For an extra easy banoffee pie recipe use store-bought dulce de leche sauce. But I believe making your own toffee layer yields the best result. Homemade toffee sets to form a firm layer. Pre-made, store bought caramel sauce is too thin for a proper banoffee pie.
Now if you’re making a toffee cake layer in America, using an Irish recipe, you may run into some difficulties getting the toffee to set.
My first attempts at banoffee pie in America were a tried and true disaster. The toffee just would not set.
I reviewed my recipe, and decided the best thing would be to examine the nutrition labels for each key ingredient.
Lo and behold, I discovered the culprit for my toffee disasters.
Did you know that American brands of sweetened condensed milk contain less fat than the Irish or British equivalents? Most dairy products in Ireland have far more fat solids than in America.
And so, I realized my Irish recipe needed some serious tweaking if I was going to get the toffee layer of my pie to set. Here are my secret tips for successful banoffee pie..
- increase the time spent heating and stirring the caramel to reduce and thicken it fully before pouring it over the crust.
- add a pinch of kosher salt to the caramel sauce to help it set.
- use sweetened condensed milk not evaporated milk. The extra sugar in condensed milk helps the toffee set. Evaporated milk is unsweetened and will not work.
- do not use low fat or fat free condensed milk.
- use less condensed milk and a little more butter and brown sugar when using American ingredients and when following a British recipe.
In my not so humble opinion this is the best banoffee pie recipe, if you’re using American ingredients.
This recipe and the ingredient proportions take into account the fact there is less fat in American brands of sweetened condensed milk, and whipping cream when compared to English ingredients.
Bananas and Cream
The top layers of banoffee pie consist of sliced ripe bananas with sweetened whipped cream on top.
I love to melt chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the cream for decoration. You can also use chocolate curls or crumbled chocolate flake bars.
It’s important to whip the cream before slicing the bananas and laying them on top of the toffee layer. You can then top the bananas with cream very quickly, and limit their exposure time to the air. It’s good not to let the bananas turn brown for visual cake appeal.
This cake is finished with a layer of sweetened whipped cream.
Be sure to use heavy whipping cream to create a thick topping. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form, but be careful not to over mix it and make butter.
I add confectioner’s sugar to the cream to give it a hint of sweetness. This is optional if you prefer less sweet desserts.
You can choose to create a fancy finish by piping the cream on top of the cake.
I like to keep things simple. I create a smooth top using an offset knife, and add the finishing touches with melted chocolate.
You can drizzle the chocolate over the top. Crumbled chocolate flake bars also work great. And if you have time you can pre make chocolate curls for decorating your cake.
And so, without further ado, let’s learn how to make banoffee pie.
Here’s the printable recipe with step-by-step instructions.
For the Base:
- 10 ounces graham crackers 2 sleeves from a box
- 5 ounces salted butter
For the Toffee Filling:
- 4 ounces butter
- ¾ cups brown sugar
- 1½ cups sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- ⅞ teaspoon sea salt pinch
Banana and Cream Topping
- 3 small bananas 2 medium bananas
- 1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 2 ounces milk or dark chocolate melted for decorative finish (or cocoa powder to dust the top)
Make the Pie Crust
- Prepare an 8-inchround springform cake pan by lining it with parchment paper and greasing the sides.
- To make the base, crush the graham cracker into crumbs using a food processor. Or place the crackers in a plastic zip top bag and crush using a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a bowl.
- Melt the butter in a pot over a low heat or in the microwave. Pour the butter over the cracker crumbs in the bowl and mix to combine.
- Spoon the mixture the prepared baking pan and press down with the back of a spoon until level. Place in the fridge to cool for 15 minutes or until firm.
Make the Toffee Filling
- Add the butter and brown sugar to a saucepan and turn the heat to low. Stir the mixture constantly until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves completely.
- Add the condensed milk to the butter and sugar mixture. Bring to simmering point and stir over the heat for 4 minutes. Take care not to bring the toffee to a rolling boil, because the texture will become grainy. Keep the heat low so the bubbles are minimal as it reduces. Add the vanilla extract and stir.
- Pour the toffee over the cracker base in the baking pan. Return to the fridge to cool for at least 1 hour before decorating. Let the toffee layer set before decorating.
Banana and Cream Toppings
- Add the cream and powdered confectioner's sugar to a bowl. Whip until soft peaks form.top.
- Slice the bananas and arrange them in neat rounds over the toffee layer.
- Top with cream and level with the back of a spoon. (The cream can be piped for a decorative finish, but a flat finish looks great.) Allow to cool in the fridge before serving.
- To serve, remove from the baking pan. Decorate with zig zags of melted chocolate on top.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
Serving and Storage:
If you have any left over banoffee pie, place it in an air tight container.
Store it in the refrigerator.
Banoffee pie does not last long unrefrigerated, especially in warm climates. The toffee layer can melt and whipped cream can turn sour pretty quickly when temperatures rise.
This cake is not suitable for freezing. However, it can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator before serving.
I recommend making the biscuit crumb base and the toffee layer in advance. Then simply add the bananas and cream layers on the day you wish to serve it. This is a great way to impress guests and is a perfect dessert for entertaining and dinner parties.
What is your favorite pie?
Can you name your favorite pie? I know the answers are as varied and wide as the many readers who visit my little corner of the internet.
But why not give this classic British dessert a try?
It may end up being one of your all time favorite desserts.
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)