Banana cream pie is a favorite of mine and, while I don’t make it as often as I bake banana bread, that is where ripe bananas in my kitchen frequently end up. A basic banana cream pie has a vanilla custard filling and lots of sliced bananas, then it is topped with a layer of vanilla whipped cream. It’s an easy and delicious combination. This Cinnamon Banana Cream Pie puts a slight twist on the classic by adding a dose of cinnamon! It may sound simple, but cinnamon is such a natural tie in for the sweetness of bananas that it makes a bit impact in the finished pie, giving it a twist that is both fresh and very familiar.
This recipe adds cinnamon to the vanilla pudding and is topped with a bit of freshly ground cinnamon just before serving. Instead of using ground cinnamon in the pudding, which would give it a deeper color (and make it look less like a classic banana cream pie), I used several cinnamon sticks to infuse cinnamon flavor into the milk for the pudding. This takes a bit longer, but the resulting pie looks nicer – and you won’t have a layer of cinnamon forming on the top or bottom of your custard.
You’ll need 2-3 cinnamon sticks (at least 2-inches in length, each) for the infusion. Like all spices, it is better if your cinnamon sticks are on the fresher side and have been purchased within the last year or so. Add them to the milk and bring it to a simmer. Allow the milk to cool back down, then add in the sugar and carry on with the recipe, straining out the pieces of cinnamon as directed.
The flavor of the cinnamon sticks works beautifully with the banana. It doesn’t overwhelm the pie, but simply gives it a new depth of flavor through the warm cinnamon. Rub a cinnamon stick over a microplane or cinnamon grater to produce the freshly ground cinnamon that tops the pie, which also amps up the cinnamon flavor. If you like banana bread, you’re going to love this version of banana cream pie.
I used a homemade crust that is made from vanilla wafers in this pie recipe. I have a slight preference for homemade crusts in banana cream pies because store-bought crusts can’t always stand up to the weight of the filling, crumbling when you try to slice them. If you don’t mind the possibility of some less-than-perfect slices (I promise it will still taste delicious), than a storebought crust will get the job done. But a homemade crust will be a bit thicker and sturdier in this recipe, so give it a try if you have a few extra minutes to spend.
Be sure to refrigerate this pie for at least 6 hours – or overnight – before serving. The custard is easiest to slice when it is completely chilled. The pie will keep in the fridge for at least 2-3 days after preparation.
Cinnamon Banana Cream Pie
1 9-inch vanilla wafer crumb crust, baked and cooled
2 large, ripe bananas
3 cinnamon sticks (2-3 inches)
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups milk, divided (pref. whole)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
freshly ground cinnamon
Slice each banana into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on the bottom of the prepared pie crust. You should have enough banana slices for 2-3 layers of fruit.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, vanilla and 2 cups of milk. Slowly bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Allow milk to cool down and steep for about 30 minutes, then bring it back to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup milk, eggs, cornstarch, salt and vanilla extract until smooth. When the cinnamon milk comes back to a simmer, slowly temper the egg mixture by stream about 1 cup of the hot milk into the the medium bowl while whisking continuously. Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook for 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens and begins to bubble.
Remove custard from heat and pour over the banana slices in the pie crust, straining out the cinnamon sticks and and lumps in the custard. Tap the pie plate gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Cover the top of the custard with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming, then chill for about 3 hours, or overnight, until completely set.
In a large bowl, beat heavy cream to soft peaks. Whip in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until vanilla is well-incorporated and cream comes to stiff peaks. Spread whipped cream over set pie cream filling. Sprinkle evenly with freshly ground cinnamon. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 1 pie; serves 8-10