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A banana custard in a Reese’s puffs crust with white chocolate flakes, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Nothing says, “be my Valentine” quite like poison and a knife in the heart, but if you want to woo the object of your affection with a bit more subtlety, I recommend pie.

 

Spoiler-Free Summary:

Romeo is a Montague, Juliet a Capulet: their families hate each other. So of course they do the right and proper adolescent thing and fall head over heels for each other. Romeo marries Juliet in secret, kills her cousin to revenge his best friend, and is banished. Juliet fakes her death and falls into a deep sleep so that she can give her family the slip and go be with Romeo. Romeo misses the memo and poisons himself over Juliet’s apparently lifeless body. Juliet wakes up to her husband’s lifeless corpse and stabs herself in the heart. Their parents decide to bury the hatchet.

 

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Notes from the Piebrary:

I think this play is most students’ introduction to Shakespeare. It is (as far as Shakespeare goes) fairly straightforward and includes very little cross-dressing or cannibalism.

When I was fourteen and reading this play in 8th grade English, there was a depth of emotion and romanticism to the lovers that was lost on me, even though we were ostensibly the same age. Ten years later and I’m not much better, to be perfectly honest. I think there is a temptation to write Romeo and Juliet off as foolish children, which is dangerous. There is an enduring universality to Shakespeare’s work, and I think we must suspend our disbelief (that phrase English professors love so much) when it comes to applying gritty modern cynicism to this play. Scoff at the concept of love at first sight at your own peril, a lesson I learned the hard way with this pie.

 

Parsing this Pie:

A few weeks ago a coworker sent me a recipe for a key lime pie with a saltine crust. That got me thinking: what else could you grind up with great enthusiasm and bake into a crust? I’d been looking for inspiration for this pie and decided that using a sugary cereal for the crust could be a kind of modern interpretation of how young the lovers are; essentially still children.

During that first, middle school foray into the bard’s work, we lingered at length on Juliet’s arc in particular. In spite of her youth and naiveté, she eventually becomes her own, self-possessed agent (unlike Romeo, who continues to curse destiny and his “stars”). For Juliet, her wedding, and her old-school womanhood, some white chocolate confetti.

From there it was just a matter of finding something complimentary to go in the middle. Banana goes well with peanut butter and chocolate, why not a banana custard? The outcome tastes a bit like a dessert version of banana bread.

And yet this pie doesn’t feel right to me. Theoretically I achieved what I set out to do: created a damn tasty custard pie with a cereal crust. But it just doesn’t fit. It doesn’t taste the way Romeo and Juliet feels deep down in that squishy, primal, romantic place in my gut… It tastes like a high school production of Romeo and Juliet. The words are still there, but the way they’re coming out is all wrong, shallow and misinterpreted. In theory it shouldn’t affect your viewing/eating, but you can’t help but want more. That ever-hopeful romantic I keep hidden under a crusty layer of New York cynicism wants to openly weep into this pie while watching a baby-faced Leo DiCaprio dying in Claire Danes’s arms. I want to be moved by a pie the way an amazing production of Shakespeare moves me: both have the potential to be a quasi-religious experience.

Overall, it’s tasty, but definitely a future re-bake.

 

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Recipe:

Crust:
-2 cups crushed Reese’s puffs
-6 tbs butter
-1/4 cup sugar

Custard:
-2 Bananas
-1 tbs whiskey
-1 cup cream
-1 cup sugar
-3 eggs
-1 yolk
-2 tbs butter
-2 tbs flour
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-White chocolate flakes at your leisure

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a food processor, grind the Reese’s puffs to dust. Combine with melted butter and sugar, press into the bottom of the pie pan, and bake for 10 min (you don’t want to bake until visibly brown or it will burn the second time in).

With a fork, prick the skin of the bananas like you’re stabbing yourself in the heart. Pierce, squish, pierce, squish, etc. Place them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven to soften until they are a deep brown (approximately 15-20 min).

In a saucepan, heat the cream and whiskey over medium heat. Add the mushy banana and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, yolk, and sugar and whisk together. Press the banana/cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve with a rubber spatula. There should be a lot of gunk left behind; you really are only going to get the whisper, the essence of banana into the custard. Add melted butter, flour, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon and whisk together. Pour into the waiting crust and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the center of the custard has set.

Allow the pie to cool first on a wire rack, and then in the fridge for several hours. Just before serving, use a potato peeler to shower the pie with white chocolate flakes. You can do short, choppy confetti or along the edge of the bar for long, white curls.

Enjoy in bed with a friend, significant other, casual hook up, or one true love on Valentines Day.

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