Saturday, July 24, 2010

His and Hers No-Fuss Summer Pies

Happy Anniversary MLK!

Leave a comment today, and you might win the Rolls Royce of ice cream scoops: a Zeroli! is your last chance to leave a comment and be entered to win this week's grand prize, a fabo Cuisinart ice cream maker

As you might have guessed from my ice-cream themed mysteries and my ample ampleness, I dig dessert. Among my circle of friends, my reputation as the Dame of Desserts, Sultana of Sweets, Pasha of Pastries means I'm bringing some confection or other to every gathering ... including this cyber-celebration for MLK's anniversary.

This is not a hardship for me. Not at all.

In the summer, though, it's tough to commit to anything that requires hours of oven time. Our air conditioner has a hard enough time keeping up with the Texas heat without also compensating for my cooking. Over the years, these two low- and no-bake pies have emerged as the all-round crowd favorites for summer picnics, barbecues, and pool parties.

Mr. Wendy, love of my life and father-figure to my cats, loves the Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie (possibly even more than he loves me). I, on the other hand, am partial to the Caramel Knowledge Pecan Pie. I'll let you pick your poison ... or, if you're not too worried about sugar shock, make one of each.

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie


1/2 c. unsalted butter
3 ozs. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 7 ozs.)


1/2 c. whipping cream
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 ozs. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3-4 ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 - 4-serving boxes of instant vanilla pudding
2 3/4 c. milk (skim is fine)

For crust, stir butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and mix in cookie crumbs. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. Press crumb mixture in bottom and up sides of pie plate. Chill in refrigerator about 30 minutes.

For ganache, heat cream and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts (but do not boil!). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and vanilla until smooth. Reserve 2 Tbs. ganache and pour remainder over crust. Chill about 30 minutes.

Thinly slice bananas and arrange over ganache. Following package directions for pie filling, prepare vanilla pudding and pour over bananas. Drizzle reserved ganache in a spiral on the pie, then draw a toothpick from the center to the edge of the pie at intervals around the circle. This will create a spiderweb design.

Chill the whole pie for 3 -24 hours.

* Note that you can make this dessert in a 9x13 dish. Simply make a time and a half the recipe (so use 1 1/2 sticks butter for the crust instead of 1 stick). Press crust just in bottom of pan. You'll need 3 boxes of instant pudding.

Caramel Knowledge Pecan Pie


1 1/2 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 7 ozs.)
5 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 c. light brown sugar
6 Tbs. light corn syrup
3 c. pecan halves
3 Tbs. whipping cream
2 ozs. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Blend all crust ingredients in food processor. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Cover crust and freeze while making filling.

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil 1 minute. Stir in nuts and cream. Boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until chocolate is melted and well-incorporated.

Pour hot filling into cold crust. Using spoon, evenly distribute nuts. Bake until filling bubbles all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. (The last time I made this, I made Bailey's whipped cream: 2 c. whipping cream, 2 Tbs. sugar, and 1/2 c. Bailey's, whipped until soft peaks form.)

* This recipe, also, can be adapted for a 9x13 pan. Just use a time and half of all measures. (So instead of 1 1/2 c. cookie crumbs, use 2 1/4 c. cookie crumbs.)

Wendy Lyn Watson writes the Mysteries a la Mode, featuring amateur sleuth Tally Jones who solves murders in between scooping sundaes. I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM is available now, and SCOOP TO KILL is available for pre-order.

You can follow Wendy on Facebook or Twitter, too!


  1. Oh, the pecan pie looks decadent! If I had all of the ingredients I'd make it right now.

  2. That Caramel Knowledge Pecan Pie looks absolutely out of this world, but I've sworn off using my oven unless the outside temperature drops below 80. Luckily, the banana pie will work just fine. Thanks, Wendy.

  3. I love pecan pie - I might need to try out this recipe - and I love that I can adapt it a 9x13 Thanks!

  4. They both look wonderful. They would be great to take to back to school teacher work days.

  5. Patricia -- I'm not a fan of turning on the oven either. Thankfully, the pie doesn't have to be served hot, so it's o.k. to do that 10 minutes at 350 in the early a.m. before the worst of the heat hits.

    Bookwoman -- pie trumps "apple" any day of the week. Your fellow teachers will love you.

  6. These both look good I will have to make both. I love pecan pie and who can wrong with banana's :). My 7 year old could eat the Black Botton Banana cream pie all by himself and wouldn't think twice of sharing it. When it comes to banana's he is a monkey ha.

  7. My little guy could also polish off the banana no problem! Of course he would have to battle his daddy for it ... but that's half the fun!

  8. And, I usually make desserts for any gathering as well, Wendy, but yesterday I went to the bakery near the library and brought back one of their buttermilk pies with caramel sauce. Just too good not to share.

  9. Oooh, Wendy, these look fabulous. And adapting them for a 9 x 13 pan is brilliant! What perfect desserts to bring to gatherings or serve to guests at home. Love these!

    And, I happen to have that ice cream scoop. It is, absolutely and positively, the best ice cream scoop out there. Just remember not to put it in the dishwasher and it will provide years (decades!) of faithful use. I love mine, can you tell?


  10. Wendy, I'm a total sucker for anything sweet and that Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie is calling my name. Oh yum!

    ~ Krista

  11. These both sound great, but I think bananas and chocolate are a marriage made in heaven. :)

  12. Pudding in pies... I thought that was only my trick.

    I am loving the looks of this... Halloween decoration cake.

  13. Love both of these pies. Will have to make both, as we love pecan pie and always have bananas in the house.

    Now just to figure which to make first.

  14. Sounds delish!! I've enjoyed the week. Party on!!

  15. These both look delicious but I am partial to pecan pie....yum!

  16. I'm not a fan of pies but the pecan pie looks scrumptious.

  17. Title pulls me in as much as ingredients, so the Caramel Knowledge Pecan Pie is for me. I have most of these ingredients, so once the heat breaks (and we've been waiting for this since mid-June), I'll fire up the oven and give this a try. Yum!

  18. Wendy - those pies are off the hook fantastic. And that beauty of an ice cream scoop could not be a more perfect gift from the author of Mysteries a la Mode. Looking forward to Tally's next case in SCOOP TO KILL. :)

    Your sister
    in cooking and crime,

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  19. Finally - the desserts! Yippee!

    The Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie would be my choice - not only yummy but it looks great.

    Helen Kiker

  20. that banana cream pie sounds amazing...especially with the ganache :)

    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  21. LOL - I feel like I should have posted a poll so Mr. Wendy and I can learn once and for all which is the better (or at least more popular) pie. :)

    Julie - glad you like your Zeroli. It was near the tops of the America's Test Kitchen gadget test, and there's a lot of history behind the brand.