Celebrate Pi Day with the ultimate banana cream pie

Editor’s Note: In honor of Pi Day — which falls on Saturday (March 14, get it?) — we searched for the most mouth-watering pie recipe on the internet. We found one on NOLA.com, the website for New Orleans’ Times-Picayune newspaper. This month the paper published a series of stories on one of its local celebrities, Emeril Lagasse, who is celebrating 25 years of his flagship restaurant, Emeril’s. The series features recipes from the boisterous chef, including this one for Banana Cream Pie — BAM, a perfect Pi Day recipe.

NOLA.com also has 30 years of Emeril’s recipes, for treats such as buttermilk biscuits, gumbo and brownies.

Originally published on NOLA.com June 9, 2014 | As we celebrate Recipes from Our Files that incorporate bananas, here is what I consider to be one of the city’s most famous desserts made with the fruit. It’s not as famous as Bananas Foster, but like that seminal dessert at Brennan’s, it has many fans and is served in many places outside the city.

It’s served at Emeril’s restaurants. It’s one of his signature desserts, and we published it for the first time in 1993 upon the release of “Emeril’s New New Orleans Cooking.”

Think of this as the ultimate banana cream pie.

Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie With Banana Crust and Caramel Drizzles

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 banana pie crust (recipe follows)

3 cups heavy cream

1 small vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3/4 cup cornstarch

2-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 large egg yolks

4 ripe bananas

3/4 cup caramel drizzle sauce (recipe follows)

2 cups heavy cream, whipped with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 2 teaspoons sugar

Shaved chocolate and mint sprigs, for garnish

Prepare the crust and cool completely.

Heat 2 cups of the cream in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir in the paste scraped from inside the vanilla bean, and the butter, and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup cream with the cornstarch and stir until thoroughly blended and smooth. When the mixture in the saucepan begins to boil, stream in the cream/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until all is thoroughly incorporated. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl combine the sugar and salt, and whisk this dry mixture vigorously into the saucepan until the cream is thick and the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Over low heat, whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Remove from the heat and whisk the pastry cream until smooth and creamy.

Peel the bananas and cut them crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Spread about one third of the pastry cream in the pie crust and arrange half of the banana slices over the cream. Spread on another one third of the pastry cream and arrange the remaining banana slices over that. Cover with the remaining pastry cream and smooth out the top. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until firm.

About 20 minutes before serving, prepare the caramel drizzle sauce.

To serve, cut the pie into wedges and drizzle on the warm sauce. Top with the whipped cream and garnish with the shaved chocolate and mint sprigs.

Banana pie crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup light brown sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 very ripe banana, mashed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, cream the ingredients together with your hands. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling.

Caramel drizzle sauce

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup heavy cream

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring it to a boil, stirring often. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a deep nutty brown color and the consistency of thin syrup, for about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cream, turn the heat back onto high, and boil the sauce for about two minutes. Remove from the heat. Use immediately.