I discovered banoffee pie when I was searching for a dessert to serve to one of my English friends. It’s a simple dish: pie shell filled with toffee, layered with sliced bananas (hence the hybrid name “banoffee”), and topped with whipped cream. As is typical with this kind of dessert – cheesecake is another classic example – cooks have a tendency to overengineer the final product, adding unnecessary flourishes. You want this:
The ideal pie should taste of four things: crust, toffee, banana, and whipped cream. If you insist, add a chocolate garnish.
I hadn’t thought of making banoffee pie ice cream until I learned that Toscanini’s had been working on it. I had a pretty good idea of how to proceed, but the success would all be in the execution. I would have to violate one of the basic tenets of the pie: a true banoffee has a pastry crust, not a biscuit crumb base. Every recipe I had seen, however, started with biscuits, so that’s where I began, with a box of McVitie’s Milk Chocolate HobNobs (the preferred “plain” or dark chocolate variety is no longer available in the US) that I bashed into crumbs.
I added the crumbs to whole milk and let them steep for a hour or so, just like making cereal milk.
I filtered out the sludge and assembled the rest of my ingredients: sugar, milk powder, salt, glucose syrup, two sheets of gelatin, and heavy cream.
I warmed up the cream, stirred in the gelatin until dissolved, then added the rest of the ingredients. Once the mixture cooled a bit I transferred it to a blender, added two very ripe bananas, and pureed until smooth. I passed the mix through a strainer and then let the base cool overnight.
Before I churned the base, I cooked the toffee. Traditional recipes call for immersing an entire can of condensed milk in a pot of boiling water and letting it cook for a few hours, making sure the can remans under water. Unfortunately, new condensed milk cans have pull-off tops, which would certainly burst after a prolonged immersion. I used the less convenient, messier, double boiler method, which required constant stirring.
I had to figure out how to incorporate the toffee into the ice cream. Simply pouring it in as the ice cream churned would guarantee that it would wrap around the dasher, so I tried to fold it into the partially frozen base, which almost worked. (I learned later that the preferred technique is to let the base set up in the freezer for a few hours before layering the toffee and ice cream into a new container.)
I served a scoop of the finished ice cream with some chocolate crumb, a chocolate/hazelnut tile, and a spoonful of whipped cream.
How did it taste? I think I struck the correct balance of biscuit and banana, with the thread of chewy toffee adding texture without overpowering the other flavors. I’d like a better distribution of toffee, but that’s why experiments have to be repeated. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. For science.