Gluten-free Banana-Caramel Coconut Cream Pie with Meringue Topping

There’s a pie contest at our village fun day tomorrow and today I’ve decided I would enter.  I would 100% not recommend my method of entering a pie contest.  Here’s what I’m doing:

1. Deciding the day before the contest what to make (no time to buy ingredients or test recipes)

2. Making something I’ve never made before (anything and everything that could go wrong will go wrong)

3. Combining 4 different untested recipes (hahahahahaha)

4. Adding my own spin to the recipes (i.e. making ingredient substitutions instead of buying what the recipe calls for)

Crust (original recipe from the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts: Coconut-Banana Cream Pie):DSC_0804

  • 1 1/3 cup flaked coconut (recipe said  3 1/2 oz can flaked coconut, mine came out of a bag and was called sweetened coconut flakes)
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats, uncooked (umm, I used Tesco Everyday Value Porridge oats – same difference, right?)
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp softened butter (recipe said 3, I used 4)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (not in recipe, but I had some, so figured why not throw it in there)
  • 2 – 3 tsp water (not in recipe, but figured I should add since I added flour)
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degree F (150 degree C)
  2. Mix all ingredients by hand and pat into bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate
  3. Bake crust for 15 minutes or until golden; cool on wire rack

Caramel (original recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: Banana-Caramel Coconut Cream Pie)

  • DSC_08073 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • couple drops lemon juice (not in original recipe, but should help prevent sugar from crystallizing)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream (I didn’t have any cream, so I used 2 Tbsp evaporated milk.  Do yourself a favor and get the cream)
  • pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Add water to small heavy-bottomed CLEAN saucepan and pour sugar into center of pan with couple drops lemon juice
  2. Gently stir sugar with CLEAN spatula to wet thoroughly
  3. Bring to boil and cook until sugar mixture turns dark amber, 5-8 minutes, swirling pan occasionally once sugar begins to color
  4. OFF heat, add heavy cream (caramel will bubble up) and salt
  5. Whisk in 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  6. Pour into cooled prebaked pie crust, tilting pie plate to coat evenly; set aside to cool


Banana Cream filling (original recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: Banana Cream Pie)

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 5 large egg yolks (keep 4 egg whites for meringue filling)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (I used 1/2 tsp vanilla paste); could use 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 bananas
  1. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan.  Whisk in evaporated milk then egg yolks and finally milk, until smooth. Scrape vanilla bean seeds and add empty pod and seeds to mixture.
  2. Bring mixture to simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth – about 1 minute
  3. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla extract if using.  Remove vanilla pod if used
  4. Cover with plastic wrap while you make the meringue topping

Meringue Topping (original recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: Lemon Meringue Pie)  -> NOT RECOMMENDED, SEE NEXT DAY’S ENTRY FOR WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING

  • 1/3 cup waterDSC_0809
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Bring water and cornstarch to simmer in small saucepan and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Using stand mixer with whisk, whip egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute
  4. Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture, 1 Tbsp at a time, until incorporated and mixture forms soft, billowy mounds.
  5. Add cornstarch mixture 1 Tbsp at a time, continue to beat to glossy, stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes

Assemble pie:

  1. Slice banana into 1/4 inch slices and place on top of cooled caramel
  2. Remove plastic from filling and pour filling over bananas
  3. Using rubber spatula, spread meringue evenly around edge and then center of pie, attaching meringue to pie crust to prevent shrinking when it cooks
  4. Using back of spoon create attractive swirls and peaks in meringue
  5. Bake until meringue is light golden brown, about 20 minutes
  6. Let pie cool on wire rack and then refrigerate until filling is chilled and set, about 4 hours.


1.  Most all recipes for banana cream pie call for a whipped cream frosting.  I don’t have any cream, so I made a meringue topping instead (not really recommended, see Note 2).

2.  I’m no meringue expert.  I’m fairly certain I didn’t whip this meringue long enough, as it started to deflate as soon as I added it on top of the pie.  In the first couple hours of refrigeration, the meringue shrank and pulled away from the edges and there are several beads of moisture on top of the meringue.  Regardless, I’m determine to have a meringue topping on my cream pie.  So I shall serve it tomorrow and let the judges decide!

3.  I have absolutely no idea what effect baking the meringue topping had on the caramel and banana filling – as neither original recipes called for those items to go back in the oven.  I will try to take pictures tomorrow when they cut into the pie; but my suspicion is that the caramel seeped into the crust.  I think it will still taste delicious though!


Going Green….

DSC_0746Turns out I like spinach smoothies – I know totally gross!  I’ve been avoiding the green smoothie craze for years, incorrectly assuming health nuts were just plugging their noses and gulping down the nutrients before their taste buds could have a say.  My first green experience was an unwelcomed post workout guilt trip.  The one where you worked out at the gym, but not as hard as you know you could have, but you go out for lunch as a reward anyway.  So there I was at the new smoothie shop looking forward to my strawberry banana sugar rush, when my friend ordered a green juice.  Arg, did she really just do that?  Next thing I know I’m ordering the Green Monster… and here’s the kicker – it was sweet and refreshing and I drank the entire thing without holding my nose once!

So now I’m home, a day after eating out in London (burgers, fries, beer, wine, bruschetta, pad thai, spring rolls, more wine), and feeling pretty crummy.  I have spinach in the fridge and google to help with recipe selection.

DSC_0713My potential ingredients included: spinach, banana, canned peaches, canned pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, cucumbers, frozen berries, flax seeds, cucumber, soy milk, almond milk, peanut butter, and carrots.

There were several promising recipes, but I opted for My Favorite Green Smoothie by the Minimalist Baker for several reasons:

  1. I have a soft spot for flax seeds, as I think we should all consume foods with more fiber
  2. It was the first one I saw that called for peanut butter, enough said. (Have I mentioned that if I’m deserted on an island I would choose peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat for every single meal for the rest of my life?)
  3. Instead of ice, it called for frozen fruit, which I shockingly had and I loved that it would add a sweet nutritional kick

Recipe direct from the Minimalist Baker’s Food Blog:DSC_0721

  • 1 medium banana, previously peeled, frozen and quartered
  • 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 heaping Tbsp natural, salted peanut butter
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy, adding more almond milk or frozen berries (or bananas) to thin/thicken, respectively. Serve immediately or freeze to enjoy later. Although, it is best when fresh.

DSC_0728    DSC_0733  DSC_0741

I put my banana in the freezer about an hour before, since no, I do not usually have previously frozen bananas.  I also surprised myself in finding some frozen mixed berries in the bottom drawer of the freezer- those don’t go bad right?  Also, my shake was a little thick (definitely didn’t measure the spinach and used more than 1 Tbsp of peanut butter), so I added about a cup of ice and 1/4 cup more of almond milk.

DSC_0745The result – a creamy, peanut butter green delight!  The peanut butter flavor really did rule over all the others – so much so that I’m inclined to use a little less next time.  Let me know how yours turns out!

Side note> I saw a few recipes calling for coconut water, which I know is supposed to be really healthy for you, but I just don’t like the taste as a drink by itself- so I plan on pouring some coconut water into ice trays and using the coconut ice cubes in a future smoothie.

Newly Diagnosed Celiac Resources

A little overwhelmed and not sure where to start?  If  your doctor was anything like mine, he’ll ask you if you know how to use Google and tell you there are many resources and guidance on the web – more than what he can provide me with.  I thought that sounded fair and went home ready to Google my new diet and get started on my road to recovery.

Did anyone else just laugh out loud?  The internet is a dizzying maze of information with some product advertisements thrown in just to keep your internet shopping addiction alive and well.  Yes, has a Gluten-free Store, but I don’t suggest buying the bulk packages until you’ve had a chance to sample the items, especially with gluten-free food products.

This morning I was approached by a friend who just found out a close relative may have Celiac and she wanted any information I could provide.  I have been copying and pasting the same message for the last 6 months and I thought it would be helpful to have it posted, where everyone can see.  So, below are my recommendations for the new diagnosed:

Here are some of the books and websites that really helped me at first. I definitely recommend that you keep it simple and eat foods that are naturally gluten-free. Also, although oats do not contain gluten, the possibility of cross-contamination is so large, that I would stay away from them too.


  • The First Year: Celiac Disease and Living Gluten-Free: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed [Paperback] Jules E. Dowler Shepard (Author)
  • Celiac Disease (Revised and Updated Edition): A Hidden Epidemic [Hardcover] Peter H.r. Green (Author), Rory Jones (Author)
  • 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Lee Fenster (Oct 6, 2008)
  • 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes [Hardcover] Carol Fenster (Author)


Disease information:

Universities with research centers:

Washington DC Support Group – lots of links to resources

Best Blogs

Gluten-free drug information (essential)


Celiac Disease

  • Contains general information about celiac disease and explains how the disease can disrupt the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Discusses symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Some additional points I always like to make:

  • Gluten is in more than just food.  Make sure you check what’s in the drugs you take, lipstick you wear, and drinks you consume.   Watch out for sauces – soy sauce & gravy will contain gluten, unless marked otherwise.
  • I had problems digesting dairy and seeds when I first went gluten-free.  I stayed away from them both for several weeks and then only drank lactose-free milk.  It makes sense, your body is healing.  I now eat dairy without much problem (although I feel better when I don’t eat it).
  • Keep It Simple – eat vegetables and fruit, grilled chicken and rice, chocolate and drink wine 🙂

Gluten-free and Allergen-free Baking Discussion

I’m very excited (and some what nervous) about my upcoming presentation to Wistow Village’s Women’s Institute.  It is this Wed, Feb 13th and I haven’t started preparing for it yet… but never fear, I will be ready!

Come join us at 7:30 in the Village Hall.  Learn about ingredient substitutions to make your favorite desserts without worry for those with auto immune disorders, allergies, food intolerances, healthy diets, and picky appetites.  You’ll also learn about the differences between those categories of eaters and how cross contamination can mean the difference between a delicious meal and death.

So now I hope I’ve peaked your curiosity and maybe made you a bit nervous.  I’ll post more as my planning begins.  They’ll be handouts and samples!

Update Feb 10: I just wrote 8 pages worth of talking points and checked out 7 cookbooks from the library to supplement my own. This is going to be one hell of a good talk. Can’t wait!