Adventures In Banoffee Making!
Posted on February 24, 2021 Posted by Athena Scalzi 37 Comments
I was thumbing through the pages of the newest Bon Appetit magazine, when I saw the most intriguing recipe. I stared in awe at the Chocolate-Biscoff Banoffee Pie and knew immediately I had to make it.
So, off to the store I went. I was shocked by how much of the recipe’s ingredients I already had at home. It’s a surprisingly easy ingredient list, though it looks long because it’s split into three sections: the crust, the ganache, and the pudding filling. But really the only thing I had to get from the store was the Biscoff cookies, heavy whipping cream, and a bar of semisweet chocolate. So nothing too unusual!
It was about one in the morning when I made this, so instead of using a food processor to grind up the Biscoff cookies, I just put them in a Ziploc bag and smushed the hell out of them. Then I poured the sugar and butter into the bag and just shook it all up and tossed it around until it was well combined!
Once I poured it out into the pie pan, I realized I maybe could’ve been a little more thorough in my cookie mashing, because I still had a lot of big pieces. Not a huge deal, though! Basically, I’d use a food processor if you can, but if you don’t have one or don’t feel like it, my method works just fine, too.
After I made the ganache and baked the crust, I poured the ganache on top and it came out looking like this:
A little rough around the edges, but tasty-looking enough!
So, that part of the recipe was super easy. Then came the pudding. I had never attempted to make homemade pudding before. I’ve never even made the Jell-O kind that you have to cook, I’ve always opted for the instant kind you just pour milk into and stir!
But, I thought I could do it. I believed in my culinary capability!
Turning the sugar into liquid caramel was easy enough. I took it off the heat and poured in the milk and cream, per the instructions, only for the liquid sugar to immediately harden into a rock. All that liquid just turned into a ball of rock sugar.
I figured that was not what was supposed to happen, and tried to think of how to fix it. I ended up just putting the pan immediately back onto the burner to re-melt the sugar, and that ended up working. After the sugar dissolved into the milk and cream, I just added the rest of the stuff and was happy I fixed my fuck up.
However, another fuck up shortly arose. After the cream mixture cooked and whatnot, I mixed the eggs and cornstarch and then attempted to temper the eggs by very slowly adding in the butterscotch. For a moment there, I thought I had done it correctly, but as you can see from this picture, there were tiny curds in the egg and butterscotch mixture:
I was worried, but continued to persevere! I followed the instructions and put it back on the heat to finish cooking. It said it would thicken up after five minutes, but it didn’t seem to change much at all in my opinion, but I chalked it up to, “eh, that’s probably good enough”, and then strained it. My lordy did that strainer catch a bunch of what was basically sweet scrambled eggs. I tried to smush everything down through the strainer with my rubber spatula but I kind of just ended up making a paste at the bottom of the strainer.
Okay, so maybe the pudding was a little bit… chunky. I was keeping my hopes high as I let it cool and poured it into the ganache layered crust. I told myself it would be all better after the six hour setting period.
Alas, after six hours, it was totally runny. I let it chill a couple more hours. Still completely liquid. Not only was it totally runny and didn’t set at all, but it was full of curds. YUCK.
So, I dumped the homemade pudding out of the crust and wiped everything off my beautiful ganache layer. I proceeded to fill the pie crust with Jell-O butterscotch instant pudding.
Now THAT’S some good pudding.
Honestly, thank the lord for Jell-O instant pudding. It’s so unbelievably easy and requires two ingredients, one of them being the fackin’ pudding packet. If you make this recipe, I encourage you to try the homemade version, but honestly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with opting for the Jell-O version.
After decorating with bananas and chocolate, per the recipe, it ending up looking a little something like this:
Maybe it doesn’t look quite as neat and pretty as the Bon Appetit version, but honestly, not bad, I think!
My dad and I promptly tried a piece, and both agreed it was super good! Also, extremely decadent and should be eaten in moderation. All in all, not a total fail! Well, maybe it was kind of a fail, but it was salvaged, at least.
When I fail at cooking, it cuts deep. It honestly hurts me on a level it probably shouldn’t. I want to be good at it. I want to make everything perfectly. To fail at something that they make look so easy is just… awful. When I fail at cooking, my immediate reaction is to just throw everything away, get rid of any evidence I even attempted to make something that turned out poorly.
I’m so glad I didn’t do that this time. There was still something good in the mess I created. This was fixable. I knew I couldn’t just throw away a crust made entirely out of Biscoff cookies!
So, yeah, I’m glad I made this, and I’m glad it’s good. It’s okay if my first attempt at pudding didn’t exactly pan out. At least Jell-O will always be there to catch me if I fall.
Before I go, I’m going to mention one quick thing. The recipe says the chocolate you use should be at least 64% cacao. So I got a bar of 70%. That shit was BITTER. If you like darker chocolate, like really dark, that’s fine, sure. But if you’re like me and want your chocolate sweet, do not use that high of a percent. The ganache part was okay, but the chocolate pieces on top were just wayyy too bitter. So maybe you could opt for dark chocolate for the ganache and milk chocolate for the garnish.
Are you a fellow lover of Biscoff cookies? Have you ever made homemade pudding? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!
Thanks for the hilarious adventure in pudding land! Keep cooking, home made pudding and custard are excellent once you get the hang of it, and Jello pudding never comes close.
I always make homemade pudding. It’s much better than mix, but it takes practice and your recipe sounds backwards. Something I have noticed about internet recipes, even from what should be reliable sources, is that half the time they don’t quite work.
Anyway, cooking well takes practice and experience. Failure is a great teacher. I’ve been cooking for twice the time you’ve existed, and sometimes I still set off the fire alarm. 😊 Keep working at it, if you have the passion. The first time you make perfect chocolate pudding from scratch you’ll feel like a god!
I’ve never made homemade pudding, and halfway through reading your attempt I’d already figured I’d use instant pudding if I try making this. I’m enjoying learning to make some things from scratch, but others don’t seem worth the bother!
I’ve never had Biscoff cookies, but have had Biscoff cookie butter. And I’ve then substituted the cookie butter for peanut butter in a cookie recipe, which seemed very meta or inception-like. And was delicious!
Put a few drops of lime juice on a Biscoff cookie and tell me if it doesn’t remind you of key-lime pie?
Ditto for lemon juice and lemon merengue pie.
That looks delicious. I may have to try some baking this evening
I have made vanilla pudding once, but the texture was off. I don’t think I’ve tried again.
When I was in my teens and early 20s, a friend and I used to like to try out recipes, usually for desserts and sweets. Some of our failures were EPIC. His mom always knew something failed big when she came home and the kitchen was “too clean.” Once we actually lit one of our failures on fire in the driveway to get rid of the evidence.
So take heart, even failures can be entertaining if nothing else. Plus now I am the go-to person for cooking/recipe advice for my siblings so I learned something. Even if it took a while…
I make homemade pastry cream and pudding often (cream puffs and eclairs are may favorite desserts, but there’s no cream puffs near me so I learned*) and learning to temper the eggs was a bit of a curve. I had my parents with me the first few times so I never had quite that much curdle but it does require more patience than it sounds like. Let the mixture that you are pouring in cool a bit, and then add very very very slowly, a bit at a time. You don’t need to get the egg mixture to the same temp as the hot mix, you just need it warmed.
*I have celiac now so now I’m planning on learning to make GF choux pastry. Hopefully it’s as easy as the gluten version
A fan? No, not really. I associate Biscoff cookies with every miserable flight I’ve ever taken on a Delta jet.
No shame in pudding mix – they’re designed to be foolproof. My wife makes an amazing chocolate pudding, but the boxed stuff finds its way into other things: vanilla pudding powder is a key ingredient in our favorite cinnamon roll recipe (adds eggs, dry milk and sugar without adding any more liquid to the dough), and pistachio pudding in a very nice cookie.
Pudding from scratch is definitely fairly challenging I would say, no shame in not having it turn out perfect your first time (especially if you’ve never made any pudding before!)
I don’t know what those cookies are.
Baking makes me think of nice ladies at church. It occurs to me that “screw up,” “mess up” and “mistake” might be acceptable euphemisms for fuck up.
Great post, and an inspired save with the Jell-O pudding. Looks delicious, even if I can feel my pancreas clenching like a fist at the thought of eating it…also, your multicolored whisk is extremely cool.
If you want some egg tempering practice, try making Hollandaise sauce. I used to follow the old double boiler technique–whip the yolks in a bowl over, not in, barely simmering water. As I got more (over)confident, I’d occasionally try making it “freehand.” About three times out of five, it worked; the other two produced really strange scrambled eggs. Note that stuff you add to an egg mixture doesn’t really have to be much beyond lukewarm if you’re going to re-cook it anyway.
Norman Vaughan, who dropped out of Harvard at age 23 to go to Antarctica with Adm. Byrd in 1928, had an undiscovered 10,000 foot mountain there named after him, and organized an expedition to climb it (successfully) for the first time when he was 88. His personal motto, “dream big and dare to fail,” works just as well in front of the stove as on an unclimbed Antarctic peak…
First off, when you’re learning to cook you should expect to fail Don’t take it as a bad thing, take it as a learning experience. When you were in first grade and they showed a stick figure with 2 fingers on one hand, and 3 fingers on the other hand, did you give up on counting when you guessed there was a total of 2,437 fingers? No, you didn’t. You learned from your mistake (else you’d still be in first grade, and your dad says your playing hooky from college).
I remember the first time I made home made pudding for the wife’s birthday. It was a ton of work for an ok result. Put the leftovers in the fridge and, hot damn, next day that pudding had matured into a very tasty dessert, much better than the add milk and stir stuff.
Finally, I learned to cook from Bon Appetit. Never made a bad recipe from it. But I did notice all the recipes started with “take a stick of butter and add a cup of flour”. Also noticed how my toes were slowly disappearing when I looked down. Switched to Cooking Light, which sadly want toes up a year or two ago.
I really miss Cooking Light.
Tempering is a tricky thing to master! Still, you ended up with an edible product, and that is the important part.
Me, whenever as recipe asks for a dark chocolate, I use a 50/50 mix of semi-sweet and bitter-sweet. I do that for chocolate mousse pie (Oreo crust, or you can make your own), and also for an awesome flourless chocolate cake that I make that is fantastic for people who have to go gluten-free.
And if you a feeling really sadistic: take both an 8″ and a 6″ pan, 8″ needs to be a springform or push pan. Make a 6″ flourless chocolate cake (this takes two nights to make), put it in the middle of the 8″ pan, then make a double or 1.5x of the chocolate mousse, and bury the flourless in chocolate mousse!
MAJORLY sinful chocolate dessert! :-) Not at all difficult to make, but it takes a little bit of work.
@pjcamp I love biscoff biscuits, because the only time I have ever had them was on an Air Canada flight to Vancouver! They are not available in AU. (And I had never seen them before so assumed they were a Canadian thing, but obviously not) Here we would use Marie biscuits, or Granitas. Or Chocolate Ripple! Biscoff have a malty flavour though, so more like Malt-o-Milk. By the way, the traditional old-timey way to crush up the biscuits is to put them in a paper bag and bash them with a rolling pin!
@Regan Mercer We use the recipe from the Bronski’s http://nogluten-noproblem.com/2011/06/friday-foto-beignets.html and it always works great. Good luck!
I’ve never made butterscotch pudding, but chocolate cornstarch pudding is not terribly difficult. No eggs, for one thing.
That looks wonderful! Send it over here to Chicagoland.
Failure is half the fun! Every time I fail, I learn something, and more than 9 times out of 10, the failure is still edible. I played with an orange cake recipe and wound up making orange cake crumbs the other day — the thing fell apart completely when I took it out of the pan. Dang, it was tasty, though.
Get yourself a copy of the Joy of Cooking. For learning the basics, like making pudding, there’s nothing better. It’s my cooking bible. I’ve made the vanilla pudding from it a number of times, it was easy, and it’s never failed me.
I have successfully made scratch pudding and custard. And now that I’ve proven myself I always use instant.
But if you ever want to try recipes with homemade pudding as a part, just make the pudding by itself first, till you get good at it. Then try the more complex dessert.
When I cook something that fails, my go to reaction is to hide it by eating it. This is NOT a good plan.
The Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks have good instructional recipes, often (obviously) illustrated. And past episodes of America’s Test Kitchen (same people) are available streaming on PBS.
Try Eating Well, Cooking Light’s successor.
First of all, thank you for sharing this! I love when people share cooking challenges online; it’s more fun to follow what went wrong than it is to see a perfect product anytime! I don’t think anyone else has mentioned that it might be helpful another time to get your eggs and milk and cream to room temperature before you start your pudding. Homemade pudding is my very favorite and I am also grateful for pudding mixes. Enjoy your pie!
When my older kid was learning to ski, her instructor told her “you have to fall 100 times before you can really ski.” So every time she fell over she’d get back up and chirp “that’s another one!” Same with cooking fails.
Pudding is more complex than it sounds–but I’ve done it. I think having mastered some other “thickens as it cooks” things like lemon curd helps, but for God’s sake, Jell-O packaged pudding is just fine.
The important thing is the taste. Did it taste good? Then it is a miracle of good work.
Do you follow sad_papi and hedleyandbennet on tiktok? Both really good content on cooking. When Sad Papi started popping up on my feed I was like WTF is this tattoo dude doing but now he is probable my third favorite follow. With tRump out of office he will likely become my first!
If this is anything like the banoffee pie that my sister-in-law makes for Christmas (and it sure looks like it), “decadent” is an understatement. A tiny slice of hers is enough sweetness to last you for days. It’s freaking amazing. I don’t know if she uses Biscoff cookies, though. That might be something to try.
You said your dad also thought is was “super good” (actually “super good!”), but I’m worried a bit about the lack of detail in his review. Was it just plain old “super good-super good,” or was it “super good-wrapped-in-a-burrito-style-flour-tortilla-super good”? Such discerning details can be crucial in the overall evaluation of determining kind of what “super good” we’re really talking about here.
I love Biscoff cookies. I like to dip mine in tea. They seem to absorb liquid in just the right way for tea-dipping. Your banoffee pie looks amazing and is in no way a fail. If you brought that to, say my birthday party, you would win the day!
I used to love a lemon merengue ‘cloud’ pie I made for my birthdays from an old Women’s Day recipe. It was made with a packet of Jello lemon merengue pudding and had tiny marshmallows in it; it was sweet but not too sweet, light and fresh.
Then the shops here abruptly stopped selling any Jello pudding packets except for strawberry gelatin, and I couldn’t make my favorite pie any more. I haven’t tasted it in 15 years or more.
I thought making pudding from scratch wasn’t something I could do – I didn’t even contemplate trying to do so.
Seeing how you tried making this yourself, including the pudding (even if it didn’t quite work) – maybe I should take it as inspiration to try making the lemon merengue from scratch?
Does anyone have a tasty and not too difficult recipe for that?
Sounds like the pudding issue was just due to the tempering. All those sweet scrambled eggs were the proteins that should have thickened the custard.
The easiest way to temper is to go backwards then forwards. You are trying to get the cool eggs into the hot stuff. But first just whisk the hot stuff into to cool eggs a spoonful at a time until the eggs are warm. Then you can whisk the eggs into the hot stuff without scrambling them. It’s partly about the temperature and partly about thinning out the eggs.
I have no doubt that if you tried it again you would nail it.
I have Biscoff cookie butter, and it makes a beautiful sandwich when topped with mini-chocolate chips when I am eating my feelings.
Love me some Biscoff with coffee. And that pie looks good.
On the custard (as we call it in the UK) I agree with the others, get your eggs to room temperature before you start, then add the cooled ‘hot stuff’a spoonful at a time whisking each spoonful in before you add the next; you could use the food processor to make the whisking easier, as you get the temperature of the eggs up you can add the hot stuff more a little more quickly. But using the instant whip was a great save, I think it shows that you are thinking creatively about your cooking, adapting the recipe to your needs at that moment which is the essence of a flexible cook. You have the right mindset, you just need to practise, and given the incentive of the results that shuldn’t be as hard to do as some of the things you’ve given up on :-)
I think you should congratulate yourself for trying something new, not beating yourself up for failing at your first time making pudding from scratch. In fact, I think you should try making pudding from scratch again. That’s how you’ll get the hang of it. Sure, I’m an excellent cook now. I can whip things up off the top of my head, glance at a recipe an know whether or not it will work (it’s shocking how many recipes/cookbooks are out there with poorly formulated and written recipes). But I got that way by totally fucking up a whole lot of food. Sometimes I’ll have a great idea in my head, and the execution fails. Oh well. That’s why I have a garbage disposal. Know that failure is the path to cooking perfectly.
You most emphatically did not have a FAIL. You may have had to scramble creatively to make a great dessert, but every fail in every subject is matter for a comedy post. Never waste it! Squeeze it for every giggle you can get! (This one was…great.)
Love those Biscoff cookies, which I associate fondly with Delta flights. (I live in Atlanta, if I hated Delta flights travel would be very difficult.) Best tip I have was given to me by a flight attendant, possibly when I asked for a second pack of cookies: put a square of chocolate on a Biscoff and heat very briefly just to start the chocolate melting. Inhale the results before anything cools down.
Oh pudding (and its cousins, pastry cream and “creme pat”.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Great British Baking Show it’s that these things are easy to mess up and sneaky even if you’ve been making them for years.
The year I made myself a Swedish Princess Cake for my birthday I didn’t cook the pasty cream long enough so it didn’t set up firmly enough, which was exciting when it’s the middle and top layers of a cake you’re trying to cover in a giant piece of marzipan.
The very first cooked pudding I ever made (out of a children’s cookbook) was such an utter disaster that my mom and I just threw it away. It was burnt and blobby and even the not-burnt bits had a really nasty flavor. It was many, many years before I tried another cooked pudding.
And I learned an important thing between those puddings: no one is going to care that the pudding was from a box if you’re offering them a slice of banoffee pie or a cream puff. (And if they do fuss for non-allergy reasons, well, then they don’t get any.)
Funny boxed pudding story: I used to work with Ukrainian lady who had a terrible experience learning the difference between “unsweetened” and “sugar free”. She had an old dessert recipe that called for unsweetened pudding mix. Now living in the States she heads off to Kroger and looks through all the Jello options and picks “sugar free” pudding mix. (Oh no.) She then makes her recipe, which calls for a bunch of sugar. It was so incredibly, unbearably sweet that even her grandkids wouldn’t take more than one bite.
I made a butterscotch pie to use up an extraneous pie crust a couple of months ago. It was… OK. It would have been almost as good if I had used a pudding packet, which is to say the extra effort didn’t necessarily make the pie that much better. I was fine with the custard filling because I went through a Homemade Ice Cream phase several years ago, and just drilled tempering. Now homemade ice cream was very much worth the extra effort.
Now one thing that I don’t make is pie crust (see above, re: extraneous pie crust) as it’s a crap-ton of effort, I am barely batting .300 as far as making one that has a better – or even equivalent – taste or texture of the frozen Trader Joe’s variety, etc. And I made this pie specifically because my housemate is allergic to corn and pudding packets are corn-starch based, which of course, the scratch filling was too, but arrowroot starch works just fine as a sub. But I probably won’t make it again, because it was a lot of dirty dishes for a “meh” dessert.
As far as destroying all evidence of shameful mediocre cookery, I remember several years ago trying to master a simple, yeasted “tea-bread” – that is, as close as you can get to Wonderbread without industrial machinery. I think we went through 3 or 4 batches before we admitted it was never going to work out. The last batch was disposed of by underhand pitch and a broom held like a cricket bat. We shamed the bread – we did not allow the bread to shame us.
Regarding your 70% cacao chocolate being too bitter: an extra teaspoon of sugar usually will solve that. I make chocolate pot de creme from a Betty Crocker recipe that hasn’t ever failed yet, and the original calls for semisweet chocolate chips. I swapped in baking chocolate instead, and spent a few batches working out how much sugar to add to get the flavor just so.
As a person who fiddles with recipes a lot, I recommend writing down what you changed. I am notorious for writing IN COOKBOOKS IN PEN when I’ve sorted out just how I like something. If it’s not your cookbook, use a post-it note instead.