Elizabeth Taylor’s White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

1440680298574Elizabeth Taylor was a contract player to MGM at the age of 4.  Her first screen credit at age 10 was in Universal Studio’s There’s One Born Every Minute (1942) and in 1944 she became an international star with her performance in National Velvet.  Elizabeth accumulated 72 film and TV credits throughout her career.  She was renowned for her extreme beauty that was accentuated by her violet-colored eyes (they were a deep blue that often appeared violet) and a genetic mutation called distichiasis, giving her an additional row of eye lashes.

In 1955 she met James Dean while working on Giant.  They would bond in a relationship that Liz would speak about until the end of her life.  Bob Hinkle (the Texas cowboy who coached Dean on rope tricks and his accent) found Taylor’s seemingly out-of-character bawdy language, highly amusing.

Liz and Jim on break from shooting GIANT. (Photo by Richard Miller, 1955)

Liz and Jim on break from shooting GIANT. (Photo by Richard Miller, 1955)

Bob asked Liz “Do you remember the very first scene you did with Jimmy?  The one where Leslie asks Jett to drive her to the Mexican Village?”  Taylor laughs, “I remember that when he said his line ‘Ol Bick wouldn’t like that,’  I ad-libbed, ‘F*ck Bick, I’m in charge down here.'”  They laughed hardily and it broke the tension and nervousness Jim felt shooting the scene.

The White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie was Liz’s favorite desert.  Despite the fact the she was an accomplished cook (and even wrote and published a cookbook), I don’t believe she ever made this pie.  It originates from the iconic Buckhead Diner in Atlanta, GA, who would pack and fly the pies, at her request to her home in LA.  It IS an amazing pie and has become a favorite around our house.  When you need something memorable for company coming over, serve them like Hollywood royalty…they’ll beg for your recipe!

Here’s a song written by Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers about Elizabeth Taylor… On the tour bus, someone popped in a VHS tape of Giant.  Jimmy had never seen it, but knew the opening scenes were shot in Virginia (where the Statler Brothers were from), so he thought he’d watch.  He loved the movie and fell in LOVE with Elizabeth Taylor (and her eyes).  They actually got the opportunity to sing this song to her a few years later.  O.K….so the song’s a little sappy, but the story is good.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR’S WHITE CHOCOLATE BANANA CREAM PIE

Here’s a step-by-step walk through of the recipe…it’s not as complicated as it looks here, I was just being thorough.  You can click on any of the photos to see them larger.  (I’m including my personal recipe for the pie crust.  After years of being unable to make a suitable crust, I finally found a recipe and method that produces perfectly flaky, delicious crusts for me, every time.  Try this if you lack confidence in the crust department or feel free to use your own recipe or even store bought.)

CRUST

1 1/4c – all purpose flour

1/4t – salt

1/3c – shortening

4-5 T – cold water

FILLING

1 – vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1c – whole milk or half and half

3 – large egg yolks

1/3c – sugar

2T – cornstarch

3oz – white chocolate, chopped in small pieces

1 – pinch of salt

4 – medium bananas

1T – lemon juice

1 1/2T – banana liqueur or rum

1 1/2T – white creme de cacao or Amaretto

1c- cold whipping cream

2T – sugar

1/2t – cream of tartar

3oz – white chocolate curls

– unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

-Preheat the oven to 450F.

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-Combine flour, salt and shortening (I use a corn/vegetable shortening, because that’s the only alternative to olive oil I can find here…and the olive imparts a  flavor.  Don’t use butter and don’t use oils…they won’t work) in the bowl of a food processor.

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-Pulse, just until the shortening looks like crumbs (no pieces larger than a pea).  Do not over process!

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-Carefully add the 4-5 tablespoons of cold water, one at a time…pulsing in-between.  STOP when the dough just starts to come together (it doesn’t take long and you may not need all the water).  At this point you will just be able to squeeze it into a ball (if the dough got too wet and is soft Play-Doh textured…throw it out and start over.  Your crust will be hard and ruin your pie).

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-Flatten dough into a disk and place on a well-floured surface.

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-Roll from the center out, until you reach a thin, even circle that’s a couple of inches larger than your pie pan, dusting with more flour as needed (this recipe is for a 9″ pie).

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-Using your rolling pin, transfer the dough to your pan.

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-Trim the dough to about half an inch outside the pan diameter (keep those scraps!  Grandma used to sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon and bake them for us kids…a GREAT treat!).  Fold the overhanging dough inwards, even with the rim of the pan.  Now comes the fun part…using the thumb of your right hand, and thumb and index finger of your left, create a fluted edge around the top.

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-Carefully (so as not to destroy that beautiful edge you just made), press a double layer of aluminum foil into the bottom of your crust.  This prevents it from puffing up during baking (some people use special pie weights, others use dry beans for this purpose.  The foil always seems to work fine for me).

-Bake on the lower rack in 450F oven for 8 minutes.  Watch carefully so it doesn’t over-brown!  I often remove the foil a minute or two before the top edge is browned to thoroughly cook the bottom.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

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-Now on to the filling!  Warm milk and vanilla bean in a saucepan, bringing to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and remove bean.  Whisk in white chocolate until melted.  Remove from heat.  (Due to differences in package sizes…grams vs ounces…I had extra chocolate.  But what the heck…I tossed it in anyway!  And in the spirit of full disclosure…I often skip the vanilla bean and add in a healthy splash of my homemade or a good quality vanilla extract at the final stage of the pastry cream.  The vanilla bean flavor is wonderful though, and worth the expense if you have one handy.  The cream gets those little flecks from the bean “roe,” the telling sign that someone was cooking with love!)

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-Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cornstarch, until mixture is pale yellow.

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-Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.

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-Return mixture to saucepan and heat until thickened and bubbly, whisking constantly (fewer than 10 minutes).  Remove from heat and add butter, whisking until melted.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cooled.

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-In a chilled glass bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks.  Add the 2T of sugar and cream of tartar (the cream of tartar was not in the original recipe, but I find it helps the whipped cream to be more stable) and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Refrigerate.

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-Thinly slice the bananas and toss with lemon juice to prevent darkening (the recipe called for 4 medium bananas, but the ones from the store this week were HUGE!  I only used 2).

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-Fold bananas and liqueurs into the cooled white chocolate pastry cream (I can’t seem to find the clear creme de cacoa in my area, so I subbed a dark chocolate liqueur).

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-Fill your beautiful prepared crust with the pastry cream, smoothing the top.

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-Cover with whipped cream layer, spreading to the edges of the crust.  Garnish with white chocolate curls (I used the long cutting blades on my box cutter to make the curls.  A vegetable peeler also works nicely) and dust lightly with cocoa powder (a fine-mesh wire strainer or salt shaker works well here…).  Chill for 2 hours before serving (and it MUST be chilled or it will be a sloppy mess.  You must have patience!  Go lick the bowl…)

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-Serve with an extra dusting of cocoa powder and a story about Liz and Jim.  Sit back and wait for all the accolades to pour in.

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Send me a picture of your pie so I can add it to the Gallery page!  I want to hear all the wonderful praises you get!

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. I lovedon’t your step by step instructions for the pie crust! I have such a hard time making a good one but know what I’ve been doing wrong now! I think I’ll make this for Kayte’s birthday this year. It has all her favorite things too. Yum!!

    • Having a dependable pie crust in your arsenal is so rewarding (and confidence building)! The food processor was my “a-ha” moment…from quiche to fruit pies, (and of course pumpkin), now it’s no big deal to whip out a pie, spur of the moment. Of course I know that you’re a spectacular and versatile cook! Kayte will love her birthday pie (and a pie with such provenance)!

  2. Sherri Fredrickson August 28, 2015 at 5:01 am

    Yum I am going to make this! Or maybe I could get Alex to make this when I visit them in Indiana?

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