If I’m being completely honest, I have never been a fan of banoffee pie. I’ve always found it overwhelmingly sweet and, despite priding myself on being able to eat impressive amounts of pudding, have never been able to manage more that a few mouthfuls. UNTIL NOW. After I learned how to make a quick caramel from nut butter, it occurred to me that not only do peanuts and banana make a delightful pair, but the saltiness of peanut butter might be the perfect thing to balance out the cloying sweetness of bananas and caramel. And thus the peanut butter banoffee pie was born (peanoffee pie was on the table as a name but I thought it a bit much…).
With many of my recipes I try to give gluten-free and grain-free options, and this is one of those puds where all are equally delicious. You can make a classic cheesecake-style base with digestives or gluten-free digestives, or for a grain-free version I suggest a equal mix of almonds and roasted unsalted peanuts in place of the biscuits, and some additional sugar and a little salt for extra deliciousness.
Whichever version you choose, once you’ve whizzed the base to a crumb in a food processor, add some softened vegan butter or spread and pulse to incorporate. You want the mixture to hold together when you press a small amount between your fingers, and if it easily crumbles add a little more butter. Then press the mixture into the base of a 20cm cake tin (ideally loose-bottomed), and push it up the sides of the tin to create a small lip (about 2cm). I press the mixture up the side of the tin with my thumb, and at the same time press down on the lip with the forefinger of my other hand, continuing around the tin, to create a neat pie crust.
The base goes in the fridge while you make the caramel. This is a really easy not-really-caramel caramel, and part of the reason I like using it here is because it has a much smaller proportion of sugar than standard caramel, while still tasting sinfully sweet (the health benefits of this are secondary to the fact that it means I can eat more of it without feeling like I need a diabetes test). First, melt coconut oil and maple syrup and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to smell a little toasty then stir in a big wodge of peanut butter. Whisk until smooth, and cook for another minute or two, then remove from the heat to cool and add a little salt (how much will depend on how salty your peanut butter is).
I love banana and peanuts as a combination and I think it works perfectly here. However, if you’d rather a more classic banoffee pie, you can use almond butter instead of peanut. The flavour of almond butter is more subtle and doesn’t come through nearly so strongly against the syrup, so you’ll have a more traditional caramel flavour.
Once the caramel has cooled completely, spread it over the base and put back in the fridge to cool further, for about an hour. Then remove from the cake tin before you add the bananas and cream – the base should be relatively sturdy and hold its shape, provided the caramel was sufficiently cooled, but I would still recommend being careful when removing it from the tin. Slice the bananas and arrange evenly on top (they don’t have to look neat as they’ll be smothered in cream).
For the cream you have a couple of options. The first is my new favourite vegan product, Elmlea Plant. Usually the purveyors of UHT cream, Elmlea have introduced a dairy-free range including a single cream alternative, and a double cream that whips into the soft pillow-y peaks you see in these photos. It’s made from fava beans which gives it the ability to whip (I imagine in the same way aquafaba does) and has a subtle creamy flavour, very very similar to dairy cream. It takes a few more minutes than dairy cream to whip to a point where it will hold its shape, but seems almost impossible over-whip. If you can find it in your local supermarket then I highly recommend it.
Otherwise you can use the vegan classic that is coconut whipped cream, made from a couple of tins of full-fat coconut milk. Coconut goes wonderfully with the peanuts and banana, but whipping it can be a bit temperamental – I cannot tell you the amount of times I have diligently followed various different recipes, only for the cream to fail to whip, or curdle. It took many failed attempts and a lot of internet research to find somewhere that suggested that guar gum could be the culprit, and as soon as I found a guar gum-less brand it worked a dream. My favourite is Sainsbury’s own-brand; it’s inexpensive, has a high cream content and works every time. But if you find another without guar gum that should work fine!
A final sprinkle of crushed salted peanuts and some chocolate shavings, and you have yourself a deeply decadent dessert, with a buttery biscuit-y base, softly sweet bananas, and sumptuously salty peanut caramel, all adorned with light and velvety piles of whipped cream. If you aren’t salivating then I don’t know how to help you.
If you give this a try, please let me know! I’d love to see how you get on – you can comment below or tag me on Instagram @greedybearbakes.
Vegan Peanut Butter Banoffee Pie
A decadent and delicious vegan banoffee pie, with nutty or biscuit-y options for the base, peanut caramel, bananas and lashings of whipped cream
Vegan, Gluten-free option, Grain-free option
For a standard or gluten-free base:
- 300g digestive biscuits (gluten-free if necessary)
- 60g vegan butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block but any vegan spread will do)
For a grain-free base:
- 150g roasted unsalted peanuts
- 150g almonds
- 60g vegan butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block but any vegan spread will do)
- 60g sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
For the filling:
- 100g coconut oil (I use a flavourless one)
- 150ml maple syrup (you could also use agave, brown rice, or golden syrup)
- 150g peanut butter (smooth or chunky is fine)*
- Salt to taste
- 3 medium bananas
For the topping:
- 300ml vegan whipping cream (I use Elmlea Plant Double) OR 2 x 400ml tins of fridge-cold full-fat coconut milk**
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- 3 tbsp salted peanuts, crushed (optional)
- 25g vegan dark chocolate, grated (optional)
- If you’re planning to use coconut milk for the whipped cream, but two tins in the fridge to cool. Grease and base line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin (you could also use a pie dish but you’ll need to turn the base out before adding the caramel – see below).
- Add 300g biscuits, or 150g unsalted peanuts and 150g almonds, to a food processor and blitz to a crumb. Add the softened vegan butter and pulse until the mixture starts to come together. If you press a small amount between your fingers and it easily crumbles then add an extra tablespoon of butter. If making the grain-free base, add 60g sugar and ¼ tsp salt and pulse until incorporated.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin and press into the bottom and up the sides, so you have a pie crust with a lip of about 2cm. I use my thumb to press the mixture up the side and the forefinger of my other hand to press down, to form a neat rim. Refrigerate.
- Make the caramel by adding 100g coconut oil and 150ml syrup to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Let it bubble for 2–3 minutes until it’s smelling sweet and toasty, then whisk in the peanut butter. Cook for another minute then take off the heat and add a pinch of salt (how much will depend on the saltiness of your peanut butter so start small and taste until you’re happy with the balance of salt and sweet). Leave the caramel to cool completely, then spread over the bottom of the base and put back in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Whip 300ml vegan cream with an electric whisk until it forms soft peaks (4–5 mins) and sieve in 1 tbsp icing sugar and whisk again until incorporated. If making coconut whipped cream, open the cold tins and scoop out the firm cream which should have separated and formed a layer at the top of the tin (you can use the remaining liquid for smoothies). The process is then the same, but you’ll reach soft peaks sooner, maybe 2 minutes.
- Slice 3 bananas into coins about 0.5cm thick. Carefully remove the base from the cake tin (the caramel should be firm enough to do this) and arrange the bananas evenly on top. Pile on the whipped cream and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of crushed peanuts and some grated dark chocolate. You can eat straight away or put back in the fridge until you’re ready for it. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of days (if it lasts that long).
*Avoid peanut butter than contains stabiliser as this can split the caramel. You could use almond butter instead for a more traditional banoffee flavour.
**Make sure your coconut milk doesn’t contain guar gum as this prevents the cream from whipping up. I use Sainsbury’s own brand.