Before the craziness of the holidays sets in, we wanted to get a few friends together and were contemplating a potluck style dinner party. However, one friend alerted us to a fabulous different idea: a pie party (original inspiration a la Elizabeth Banks). I mean, really, who doesn't love pie!? And the chance to try almost a dozen homemade pies-- I couldn't resist. Thankfully, many of our friends were up for the challenge, many of them baking THE FIRST PIE OF THEIR LIFE!
I have to admit I scoured the internet for a long time looking for inspiration for my own addition to the party- I was leaning away from the holiday classics of apple, pumpkin, and pecan to ensure we didn't have lots of repeats. I also knew I wanted to construct my pie in a single afternoon, unfortunately eliminating many delicious pies from my search. Eventually I decided to morph a few different recipes, using some of my favorite ingredients, into an original pie.
For the crust:
9 graham crackers (one sleeve)
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/8 c. granulated sugar
For the mousse filling:
1 large ripe banana
1 c. peanut butter (any variety, I used this one)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese (one block)
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar
1 c. heavy whipping cream
For the middle layer:
1 ripe banana, sliced
5 slices thick cut bacon, cooked until crisp and drained
Surprise! Yep, this pie isn't vegetarian. Ever heard of "the Elvis"? Rumor has it that Elvis' favorite sandwich consisted of peanut butter, banana, and bacon, although reports are controversial. Either way, it sounds like a great combination to me- I love anything sweet and salty. Another surprise- even with multi components, this pie only takes about half an hour to put together (not including chilling time which isn't absolutely necessary).
Constructing the crust may be the most time consuming step. I crushed the graham crackers in a plastic bag until only crumbs remained, then combined with melted butter and a bit of sugar. Press it carefully into a pie pan until the bottom and sides are covered with a compact layer-- the back of a buttered spoon helps this process immensely (it will stick to your fingers or an unbuttered spoon, making things messier!).
Bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350F, then allow to cool briefly before adding your filling.
For the mousse, first whip together the first four ingredients (banana through cream cheese). I used a regular hand mixer, but a stand mixer would get the job done even faster. Whip until a smooth texture is obtained. Then, add 1 cup of powdered sugar-- sifting it will help prevent lumps but I skipped this step and still managed a smooth pie. Beat an additional 1-2 minutes until completely incorporated. In a pre-chilled bowl, combine the additional 2 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar with the whipping cream and beat until stiff. You want a really fluffy texture, so go that extra 15-20 seconds to prevent any soupiness (but without making butter!).
With a spatula (or in your stand mixer), fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture just until well-mixed. Spread half of the mousse into your pie crust.
Make an even layer of banana slices over the mousse, making sure to cover all the way to the edges.
Then, add your sliced bacon, again ensuring even coverage. I tried to break my bacon into "bite sized" pieces.
Add the rest of the mousse and carefully spread over the bacon and banana (and without disrupting the crust which is still fairly fragile!). Chill (uncovered) in the fridge for at least two hours. If you want to eat it immediately, go ahead-- it will just have a much softer texture and won't slice evenly (but will be guaranteed delicious). If you are keeping it for the next day, cover it after two hours- at this point the mousse will be solidified and won't stick to foil or plastic wrap.
The final result was just as I imagined- very rich, with both the banana and peanut butter flavors well apparent in each taste of mousse. The bacon pieces were odd texturally, but added an extra smokiness that I loved. The bacon flavor was even stronger two days later- enough time for the ingredients to settle. Definitely best served cold, as the mousse is most solid straight out of the fridge.
Our guests brought a large array of amazing pies, of which I really attempted to sample as many as I could. We joked of having a Best Pie competition, but at the end of the night, I'm not sure most of us could have agreed on a favorite. Some of the samplings:
|Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie|
|Peach and Cherry Hand Pies|
|Chocolate Hazelnut Pie (made with Nutella!)|
|A huge crowd favorite- Apple Cranberry Raisin with a perfect crust!|
|One of my favorites- Washington Nut Pie (similar to pecan but made with walnuts)|