Paul Prudhomme's St. Louis Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie


January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day! To celebrate, we're sharing this St. Louis Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie by Paul Prudhomme, one of KCET's celebrity chefs.

Peanut butter, which has been around for as long as there have been humans (though only recently sold in jars rather than strictly homemade), is reportedly always in 90% of North American homes. It is even more popular in St. Louis, the city that popularized the treat in the 1890s as a food for people missing their teeth. Then, in 1904, it was the hottest seller at the St. Louis World's Fair -- and as a people, we are in love with it still.

Banana, as everyone from toddlers to Elvis knows, is the perfect accompaniment to peanut butter. This pie combines them both into one perfect dessert. If you haven't a food processor, a hand blender or extremely strong arms will work just as well.

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St. Louis Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie
Makes 2 pies, 8 servings each
5 eggs
3 egg yolks
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into parts
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 very ripe medium bananas, cut into large pieces
5 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 baked 9-inch pie shells

Combine the eggs, egg yolks, butter, brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and bananas in the bowl of a food processor and process until completed blended, about 1½ minutes. Leave the mixture in the food processor.

Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Set aside.

Place the sugar, cream and evaporated milk in the top pot of a double boiler set over boiling water and heat, stirring occasionally, until light bubbles start forming around the edges and the mixture is hot, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Stir the cornstarch mixture and whisk it into the cream/milk. Whisk constantly until the mixture is very thick, about 2 minutes. Then, with the food processor running, add the cream mixture to the banana mixture in a steady stream and process 45 to 60 seconds. Pour the mixture back into the top of the double boiler and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until the temperature reaches 165ºF, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the filling to cool to about 120ºF, whisking frequently, about 15 minutes.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie shells and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours, until set.

Serve as is or with whipped cream.

NOTE: If desired, add 6 tablespoons of melted butter to the mixture after it has been cooked, for a richer and slightly firmer texture. Roasted nuts, such as chopped pecans or almonds may be added as a variation. Have fun with the topping, and enjoy!

Check out more of Prudhomme's fabulous Southern American recipes on Chef Paul Prudhomme's Always Cooking!, Saturdays on KCET.

Photo by Flickr user kimberlykv.

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