Previous attempts to master the Zen of Cooking have been met with greasy explosions requiring day-long cleanup, blaring smoke detectors sending our Chihuahuas scrambling for cover, kitchen fires resulting in fire extinguishers now being kept under every counter, and reminders of grade school science class that repeatedly instructed us not to retrieve stuck bread from the toaster with a fork (turns out that really isn’t a good idea).
My sister, ironically, is an award-winning, valedictorian-of-her-cooking-school chef, whose culinary masterpieces are regularly photographed and proudly displayed for all the world to applaud and envy. I long ago concluded that Sissy sucked up the entire cooking gene pool, leaving me with a lifelong kitchen phobia not infrequently resulting in eating Pop Tarts directly out of the bag to avoid having to go “in there.”
Having said all that, there is one thing I do cook and it’s fabulous. With respect to all your mamas who heretofore had the best recipe in your hometown, I can whip out the world’s greatest banana cream pie in slightly over an hour. It’s the only thing I make and it’s loaded with calories, but if you have a sweet tooth for this dessert, it will rock your banana cream pie world.
One day, Hubs came home and announced that he’d invited some friends over for dinner and he thought I should make my pie. Since we’d both been dieting for summer, I was reluctant to blow weeks worth of deprivation in one evening. But I’d recently read an article about swapping out high-calorie ingredients in desserts for less butt-busting, lower-calorie ones, so I decided today would be a good day to try Diet Banana Cream Pie. I got out my famous recipe and all my “new” ingredients, and got to work.
Layer One: 1 C flour, 1 C chopped walnuts, 1 C melted butter. Stir together in rectangular lasagna-size pie pan, and bake for 15 mins. at 350. Let cool.
Diet version: Flour, skip the nuts, unsweetened applesauce.
Layer 2: 1 8-0z pkg. of cream cheese, softened. 1 C powdered sugar, 1 C Cool Whip. Put in bowl and whip with electric blender (Not the margarita one. That white thing with the beaters that your mom let you lick the frosting from.) Spread over cooled crust.
Diet version: Fat-free cream cheese, powdered sugar, and fat-free Cool Whip.
Layer 3: Slice bananas and place pieces side-by-side over layer 2.
Diet version: Same. It’s fruit. Go crazy.
Layer 4: 1 large package of Vanilla Instant Pudding, 3 C 2% milk. Put in bowl and beat with same blender thing you used for layer 3 until lightly stiff (“pudding-y”). Spread over bananas. and put pie in fridge until set (about an hour).
Diet version: Sugar-free instant pudding and fat-free milk.
Layer 5: “Frost” with remaining Cool Whip.
Diet version: Fat-free Cool Whip.
It was beautiful. It looked exactly the same as the regular version, only I figured I’d easily cut the calories in half. (Sara Lee, are you taking notes?)
Then Hubs suggested we try it, with maybe just a little nibble in the corner, to make sure it tasted the same. Rolling my eyes at the suggestion (it looked the same, so it had to taste the same, and I don’t like serving “leftover” dessert to guests), but he was seriously skeptical about this whole diet pie thing, so we each grabbed a small fork and sampled a corner.
Oh. My. God. The top layers were runny, gooey, and completely tasteless, and the crust…well, we’ll never know because you could use it to knock out a burglar in a home invasion. It was rock solid. SERIOUSLY?? By now, Hubs has spit most of his out into the sink and was laughing so hard he could barely choke down the beer he was using to wash down the rest, while I’d grabbed an ice pick and was vigorously banging on the crust, trying to get it to break, but succeeding only in denting the bottom of the pan. Well, crap.
Now Hubs is off to the store to get the real ingredients while I bury the remains of my experiment where the dogs won’t get it and break a tooth. Then I’m making my famous, original Banana Cream Pie. All 50 gazillion calories. But worth it?