For as long as I could remember, my father’s favorite desserts in the world have been Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and ice box cake. When I was little, I always pictured “ice box cake” as being some kind of deliciousness you’d pull out of your freezer to snack on, but it turns out that ice box cake, or at least our family’s version of it, is nothing more than graham crackers, vanilla and chocolate pudding from the box, and bananas layered together. The “ice box” part of it comes from the storage of the dessert. If it sits in the fridge overnight, the crackers soak up the pudding and become soft and cake-like. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest desserts you could make, and it’s extremely lovely to come home to after a long day at school or work.
When I started learning more about desserts, I figured out a more grown-up way to make my papa bear’s favorite dish. I began by substituting the graham crackers for a graham cracker pie crust, turning it into a pie rather than a cake. Turns out, it’s much easier to eat (too much of) this way.
I replaced the classic Jell-O pudding mix with a chocolate pudding that doesn’t come from a box, and instead of vanilla pudding, I added whipped cream. Who really likes vanilla pudding anyway? The creme de la creme of the old school dessert is the sliced bananas, and by keeping those in the pie, I turned an easy treat into something that could impress people. Well, it impressed my dad anyway. I always top the pie with Reese’s-either chopped peanut butter cups or the pieces-because, like me, my pops is in love with peanut butter and chocolate, but shaved chocolate, additional sliced bananas, or nothing but pure and simple whipped cream are also fabulous toppings.
- Graham cracker pie crust
- Two slightly green bananas (they’ll ripen once they’re in the pie)
- Fresh whipped cream
- Chocolate mousse or chocolate pudding (recipe below)
- Toppings of choice-Reese’s Pieces or Peanut Butter Cups, sliced bananas, shaved chocolate
For the Chocolate Filling
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
How to Do It
- Whip the heavy cream and 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar at high-speed until it holds soft peaks, 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
- Make the chocolate filling. Create a double boiler by placing a small saucepan half-filled with water on high heat on the stove top. Allow it to come to a boil, and then turn the heat down slightly so it remains simmering. Place a metal, heat-safe bowl on top of the pot, and add the chopped chocolate and butter to the bowl. Whisk continuously until the chocolate and butter have melted completely, and remove the bowl from the heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
- When the bowl is cool enough to handle, quickly whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla. Whisk continuously until the yolks have blended completely.
- In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and the remaining 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar on high-speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir a few tablespoons of the egg white mixture into the chocolate, and then fold the remaining mixture gently into the chocolate using a rubber spatula. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture gently just until the white streaks disappear. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
- After the filling has cooled, fill the graham cracker crust 3/4 of the way full with the chocolate. Slice the bananas in thin slices and line every inch of the chocolate with bananas.
- Top with whipped cream and additional toppings, and serve immediately. If you don’t plan on serving (or eating) the pie immediately, hold off on putting the whipped cream on.
Recipe for chocolate mousse from Today Food.
Tip: Be sure to use organic, pasteurized eggs in this recipe because you’re basically serving them raw. The high temperature of the chocolate/butter mixture only does so much to cook the yolks so protect yourself! Also, be sure to eat the pie within a day or two. This really shouldn’t be a problem…