Pies and Tarts

Banana Cream Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust

banana cream pie with oatmeal cookie crust recipe by the wood and spoon blog by kate wood. A simple press in crust made up of store bought crunchy crisp oatmeal cookies (i use gmomma's) is filled with a vanilla and banana flavored pastry cream and slices of real bananas. The whole thing is topped with whipped cream and extra banana for garnish. This recipe is a great summer or spring time cream pie recipe and can easily feed a crowd at your next gathering or party. Find the recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

A few weekends back, I traveled to Orlando for a belated 10 year high school reunion. Being the product of the late 80’s/ early 90’s that I am, the words “high school reunion” bring me mental pictures of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino dancing to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” in their Easter egg-toned lamé  outfits just before they fly off via helicopter into the sunset. I’m completely unashamed to report that “High School Musical” also comes to mind, and I seriously (and not so secretly) wish that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens would reunite down the road for their own musically-inspired version of a reunion. At what age is it inappropriate for me to admit things like that?

From what I’ve gathered from movies, television, and limited personal experience (all legit sources, right?), reuniting with friends from your past can be terrifying for a lot of people, and understandably so, given that the teenage years are often flooded with a crap-shoot of drama, hormones, bullies, and insecurities. So naturally, leading up to this weekend, I thought a lot about the past, listened to a bunch of old burned CD’s, and even looked through a few photo albums from my pre-college years, trying to prepare myself for whatever the night may entail. Even on my way to the reunion, I half expected fear to rear its ugly head along with a million and one of my petty insecurities.

banana cream pie with oatmeal cookie crust 

I’m happy to report that the evening was splendid. I’ll attribute a majority of the painlessness to the fact that I had a truly enjoyable and relatively easy high school experience, marked by loads of fun memories and only a smattering of truly heartbreaking and cringe-worthy ones. Only a handful of people showed up to the dinner gathering, but that kept an element of intimacy, relaxedness, and fun that a larger party of people perhaps would have squashed. It definitely helped that I had my high school and current best friend, Jesse, there as the ultimate wingman/sidekick, but the rest of that lack of anxiety, I have decided, can be attributed to newer attempts I’ve made to genuinely be OK with the person I am right now. This has been one of my goals for 2016: Being OK with me.

I want to be truly content with my life. I want to be proud of who I am. I want to be confident in what I can offer.

I want to walk through life free from shame of who I’ve been or fear that I don’t measure up.

I want to be excited about my life and feel free to relish in the million things I have to be joyful about.

I want to see my present life as something worth sharing with people I haven’t seen in 10+ years, and I want to do so without any hint of sadness at “what could have been.”

I want to know and believe that who I am and what I have is enough, this year and for another ten years.

That’s the person I want to be. 

Admittedly, I have a long way to go. But that’s why it’s a goal and not something I’ve already checked off my list. It’s something worth striving after. 

banana cream pie with oatmeal cookie crust

Another something worth striving after? Perfect banana cream pie.

Have you ever made a cream pie from scratch, only to have it fail to set up and turn into a sloppy tin of pudding? Well, I have. That’s just about every cream pie I’ve ever made. That is, until recently. I ran across this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated and decided to try a variation of it. This recipe uses less liquid than others I’d tried in the past, so I was pretty optimistic that this could be the makings of a winner. It did not disappoint. And because I was feeling extra jazzy, I added an additional layer of bananas AND a cookie crumble crust. Mercy. 

I’m planning to attempt converting this to a coconut cream and chocolate cream pie recipe in the near future, so cross your fingers, legs, and whatever else in hopes that they are as successful as this bad boy was. And if your sweet tooth is calling your name this week, you should make this pie. You should also probably rent “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” and cry laugh while you eat it with someone awesome… bonus points if you’ve been friends since high school. 

banana cream pie with oatmeal cookie crust

 

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Banana Cream Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust

A traditional banana cream pie made special with an oatmeal cookie crust.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 10 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the cookie crust

  • 6 ounces of crunchy oatmeal cookie crumbs (I used GMommas Buddascotch Oatmeal, but another crunchy oatmeal cookie could be substituted)
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon salt (depending on salt preference)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large bananas

For the topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

To prepare the cookie crust

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor or by hand, finely chop cookies/crumbs into a coarse consistency, adding the remaining crust ingredients towards the end. Mix to combine. The mixture should resemble wet, coarse sand.
  3. Press the crust in to a standard 9″ pie plate. (There will not be enough crumbs to coat a deep dish plate)
  4. Bake until the crust begins to firm up, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool.

To prepare the filling

  1. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the egg yolks, followed by the heavy cream and milk, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Over medium-low heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly. The mixture will slowly thicken to a loose pudding consistency. Be sure to whisk constantly while mixture thickens, otherwise you will have clumpy pudding as opposed to a uniformly smooth pudding.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and stir the pudding through a fine mesh strainer to remove any clumps.
  5. Return the mixture back to the pan, but off the heat, and gently stir in the butter and vanilla.
  6. Allow mixture to cool slightly, stirring once or twice a minute, for about five minutes.

To assemble the pie

  1. Thinly slice (about 1/8th”) a layer of bananas over the bottom of the pie crust. I used about 3/4 of a banana for this.
  2. Spoon half of the pudding mixture on top of the banana layer.
  3. Repeat the layering of banana slices once more, topping with the remaining pudding.
  4. Smooth the top and place a piece of Saran wrap directly on top of the pudding. Allow to cool in the refrigerator at least for 4-5 hours, but preferably overnight.
  5. When ready to serve, whip the remaining heavy cream with a hand or stand mixer, starting on low speed and increasing to high.
  6. Add sugar along the way and turn the mixer off when stiff peaks have formed.
  7. On low, stir in the vanilla until combined.
  8. Keep pie refrigerated until ready to serve and garnish with extra banana if desired!

Notes

  • Cooking your filling enough is really important. You’re looking for a consistency similar to a loose pudding. It will thicken slightly as it cools, but you don’t want to quit the cooking process while the filling is still soupy.
  • Try to avoid over-stirring the filling after it has been cooked. This can cause it to loosen up.
  • Before decorating, I sliced the remaining banana slices and put them in a bath of one cup of water and the juice of half of a lemon. This will slow the browning process and allow you to decorate with bananas a little ahead of time. Note that bananas will still brown slightly given enough time.

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Recipe Adapted From: Cook’s Illustrated

Cranberry Pear Mini Pop-Tarts

cranberry pear mini pop tarts recipe by the wood and spoon blog by kate wood. this recipe makes mini hand pie type pop-tarts filled with bits of pears (or apples!) and cranberries. They are baked in the oven until golden and flaky and the whole thing gets topped with a powdered sugar glaze. This is a great way to use leftover pie crusts or to make individual pie crusts. Find the recipe at thewoodandspoon.com

If you follow me on Instagram or have known me for longer than ten minutes, you have probably gathered that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. God bless decent genetics and enough spare time to exercise occasionally because otherwise, I’d be in deep. 

Surprisingly though, I’m a bit of a health-nut//control freak when it comes to my daughter, Aimee. It’s really important to me that she eats appropriately (even if mom cheats a little every now and then daily), so she’s typically pretty limited on what she’s allowed to have. 

Truth be told, this is in part due to me not wanting to deal with a picky eater, and even more embarrassingly, because I don’t always want to share my treats. The day she learned to say the word “cookie”, I pretty much melted and knew my days of solo cookie consuming were over. She’s a girl after my own heart.

pastry dough for cranberry pear mini pop tarts

Needless to say, Aimee has not tried a lot of the foods I really loved when I was a kid. Because my diet as a kid was often a mash-up of processed food faves, I was usually the girl you wanted to make a trade with at the lunch table… and for the record, no, the leftovers from your mom’s mystery meat with cream of whatever soup sauce was NOT a plausible trade for my pizza Lunchable. Good try, though. 

One of my faves growing up was Pop-Tarts. If we’re being honest, I still probably love them, it’s just been a minute since I’ve ventured to that region of the grocery store. After becoming confident with my favorite pie crust recipe, I decided it was time to take a stab at the illusive Pop-Tart.

Ya’ll.

Homemade Pop-Tarts, or this recipe at least, is essentially a mini, personal-sized pie with DOUBLE CRUST. [Drops Mic]

cranberry pear mini pop tarts

Hot out of the oven, these teeny pie bites have a buttery, flaky crust, and tart fruit filling that is as diverse as it is easy to make. If you want to make strawberry filling… well, make strawberry filling! If you’re feeling blueberry and lemon… bake away! Quite often I will use stocked up preserves from the summer and spread those on to the pastry- super simple. No one will ever guess it’s just jam.

We usually have a good variety of pears at our grocery store in the winter months, so I opted to try out a pear and cranberry variety. My house smelled like a winter wonderland while these were in the oven, and I really think this flavor combination makes for a grown-up, sophisticated way of saying, “um, yes, I still love Pop-Tarts.”

Both the pastry and the filling can be made in advance and they require very little active kitchen time. In a pinch, you could always try refrigerated pie crust from the grocery store, but you have my word that the homemade route is the best way to go.

Give these tarts a try and let me know what you think! If you discover a new flavor that is next level, please fill me in.

Happy baking! Oh, and for the record… I won’t be sharing these with Aimee.

cranberry pear mini pop tarts

 

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Cranberry Pear Mini Pop- Tarts

An updated take on the classic pastry, these cranberry-pear mini pop-tarts include a flaky crust and tart cranberry pear filling that is delicious treat to serve to kids and adults alike!

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x

Ingredients

Scale

For the filling

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup finely diced pear (I used Bartlett but any firm pear for baking will do)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the pastry

  • 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 5 Tbsp. ice water

Instructions

To prepare the filling

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and add to the pan with the butter. Stir frequently over medium heat until cranberries have burst and filling is thick and somewhat uniform, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

To prepare the pastry

  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or fork until it is the consistency of a course meal with small, pea-sized chunks of butter throughout. Add water one tablespoon at a time, tossing gently until pastry comes together in moist clumps. Divide dough in half and pat into two round, flat disks. Wrap with Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

To assemble

  1. Roll out one disk of pastry on to a floured surface to 1/4″ thickness. Using a 3″ biscuit cutter, gently cut rounds of dough. Each Pop-Tart will require two rounds (one for top and one for bottom).
  2. Place one tablespoon of cooled filling on top of half of the rounds.
  3. Top the filled rounds with a second circle of of crust and use a fork to crimp the edges. Vent the top of each rectangle by poking the top of the pastry with a fork 2-3 times. Freeze the pop tarts on the baking sheet for at least 2 hours or up to a week.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the tarts, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and top with sifted powdered sugar or a glaze of choice.

Notes

  • I used a simple powdered sugar glaze for the pop-tarts pictured, but feel free to get creative!

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