I never liked the flavor of raw banana. The one exception? Banana splits, with their tall scoops of ice cream and drizzles of sauce and pert cherries, made frequent appearances in my childhood.
What if, I thought, you could fit the elements of the split into a make-ahead pie?
Inspired by Wayne Thiebaud’s 1991 “Neapolitan Pie” painting, I knew I wanted to layer different flavors (and colors) of ice cream in a cookie-style pie crust. Finally, this pie needed to immediately evoke a banana split — and that meant it needed lots of bananas.
In the recipe I settled on, the banana split gets blown up. Salty pretzels are molded into a crust, which is filled with fresh banana slices and then layers of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream. Just before serving, the pie gets another layer of banana slices, thick swoops of whipped cream, and drizzles of strawberry and caramel sauces. Chocolate shavings, peanuts and bright red cherries provide the finishing flourish.
The pie needs to be made a day ahead to set, and can be stored, wrapped and frozen, for up to four days.
Banana Split Sundae Pie
Serves 8 to 10
For the crust:
4 cups dried mini pretzels
¼ cup sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
For assembling the pie:
1½ cups chocolate ice cream
2 large ripe but firm bananas
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1½ cups strawberry ice cream
1½ cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup strawberry jam
1 bar dark chocolate, preferably 70 percent
1/3 cup shelled toasted walnuts or salted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
5 to 8 maraschino cherries
Make the crust: Butter a 9-inch regular or deep-dish pie plate.
In a food processor, grind the pretzels until almost fine, leaving a few small bits for texture. (Alternatively, place the pretzels in a zip-top plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.) Stir in the sugar, then the butter and combine thoroughly. The mixture should look like wet sand.
Transfer the crust mixture into the pie plate and, using your fingers, press it into the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Transfer the plate to the freezer and let chill while you prepare the pie.
Assemble the pie: Let the chocolate ice cream soften on the counter for about 10 minutes.
Remove the crust from the freezer. Peel 1 banana and slice it into 1/3-inch rounds. Lay the banana slices evenly over the crust and sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons lemon juice.
Working quickly, use a spoon and/or a small spatula to spread the chocolate ice cream evenly over the crust, smoothing it out as you go. Return the pie to the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until the chocolate layer is almost solid.
Repeat with the strawberry and vanilla ice creams.
If making in advance, tightly cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight until ready to serve.
Use a well chilled medium bowl and whisk, or a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, to whip the cream just until fluffy and stiff peaks hold.
In a small bowl, stir the strawberry jam with 1 tablespoon warm water until thin enough to drizzle; strain.
Peel the remaining banana and slice it as the first. Pull the pie out of the freezer and top with the banana slices. Sprinkle with the remaining 1½ teaspoons lemon juice. Top with the whipped cream and drizzle the sauces over.
Using a vegetable peeler, shave curls of dark chocolate on top and sprinkle with the nuts, if using, and cherries.
Dip the pie plate into a shallow pool of warm water to help loosen the crust. Slice and serve right away.
Nutrition information (based on 10 servings): calories: 600; total fat: 37 g; saturated fat: 24 g; cholesterol: 155 mg; sodium: 390 mg; carbohydrates: 58 g; dietary fiber: 3 g; sugars: 39 g; protein: 6 g.