Well, we made it. And we've got two good hikes under our belts (proof) (double proof) and bellies filled with some of our favorite European eats. Like crispy M&M's and British cask ales (him), and Seed & Bean sea salt dark chocolate and cocoa orange Nakd bars (her). The cool, foggy mornings have been a nice change of pace from the blazing temperatures we had in Denver, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not having Illegal Pete's withdrawals. Especially after spending the equivalent of 18 American dollars on two bland ass tacos from what was supposed to be some of the best Mexican food in Edinburgh.
Overpriced tacos aside, the trip has been a wildly enjoyable adventure so far, and we’re not even two weeks deep. There’s so much I want to write about – so much I have written about, but I need some time to sort it through. Time to collect my thoughts and clean up grammatical errors and run on sentences and all of those other things I forget to keep in check when I’m pouring the unorganized contents of my brain into Microsoft Word. We’ve got a handful of days left in the UK before we catch the chunnel to Belgium, where I plan on exhausting all efforts in attempts to eat my weight in Belgian dark chocolate. From there we head to Paris for a week full of space invader spotting, fancy art, and - you guessed it - more chocolate. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the place that ignited my love for travel, and to see the City of Light in all its summer glory. Because I’ve heard it’s pretty great.
For now, I've got real deal banoffee pie. (And soon: banana and pearl sugar Belgian waffles.)
Notes: If you can't find vegan digestives (I wound up having to go to a specialty grocery in town) use some plain graham crackers or speculoos cookies (gluten free, if you desire). Or use this recipe for pâte brisée. If you don't have muscovado sugar, you may substitute sucanat or brown sugar - but I highly recommend trying to get your hands on muscovado sugar because the molasses content is much higher than other brown sugars. I tried this recipe with vegan butter and coconut oil, and the crust was way too oily and crumbly. If you'd prefer to use one of the two, I suggest pressing the dough into mason jars, or something that doesn't require you to remove it from a large mold. I've made them in individual tartlet pans and they came out perfect. Do as you please!
DULCE DE LECHE
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
18 digestive biscuits (250g)
6 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening
2-3 ripe bananas
Coconut whipped cream
Good quality dark chocolate
Prepare the dulce de leche by removing the coconut milk fat from the can of coconut milk and placing it in a medium sized saucepan set over medium-high heat. Reduce to liquid then stir in the muscovado sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then set your timer to 10 minutes; stir every few minutes. Once the timer goes off, whisk the mixture for 2-3 minutes, until it's nice and thick. Let cool for 30 minutes then transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line the bottom of an 8" removable tart pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with oil; set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the digestives into a fine meal. Add the shortening and pulse until combined. Press the mixture into the prepared tart pan and freeze for 10 minutes. Bake at 325˚F for 8-10 minutes then allow the crust to cool on a wire rack for at least one hour. Do not remove it from the mold - it will crumble if it's still hot.
An hour or two before you're ready to serve the pie, remove it from the tart mold and add the sliced bananas and dulce de leche, then chill for at least one hour. Just before serving, top with coconut whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days. If using not-so-ripe bananas, you may get an extra day or two.
Yield: 8-12 slices