Not being a big fan of Christmas pudding (just too rich - plus the thought of eating something over a year old has never really appealed), every Christmas it's my job to create an alternative pudding to have after the turkey. Something not too rich, but still festive - past successes have included a Christmas chocolate cheesecake and various varieties of trifle.
This year, it was the turn of the banoffee pie - and Jamie Oliver's fantastic recipe from the 'Jamie's Kitchen' book is one of my favourites. Sadly it's not online so you'll have to buy the book to get the whole thing, but here's my abridged version of something similar:
6-7 inch pastry case (make your own sweet shortcrust - or buy it - see my recipe in the next blog post)
One jar of Dulche de Leche caramel (Waitrose do it in the baking aisle)
About 3-4 bananas
A pint of double cream
A handful of hazelnuts and almonds
1tsp instant coffee
One vanilla pod
Once you've cooked and cooled your pastry case (making sure to avoid a soggy bottom), spread the dulche de leche over it, about a centimetre thick - this will be all of a small jar or about two thirds of a big one. Then, slice up the bananas to about half a centrimetre thick and lay the pieces out to create a solid layer of banana - cut some slices up small to fill the gaps.
Whip the cream until it's starting to make soft peaks. Scrape the seeds out of one of the vanilla pods, and add these to the cream. Then dissolve the instant coffee in about a tablespoon of boiling water. Mix this into the cream too - use all of it for a stronger coffee taste or just half for a subtle hint. Whip the cream with these added ingredients to make stiffer peaks - but be careful not to overwhip (as I did...) Spread this out on top of the banana layer.
Finally, rinse the almonds and hazlenuts in a little water, then put them in a bowl with a few tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix it all up until all the nuts are coated, then tip them onto a baking tray. Bake in the oven (around 180 degrees) for about 10 minutes, until the sugar has caramelised a little. once they're cool, heap them onto the top of the pie.
Serve immediately - or it keeps for 4-5 days (and a day/night in the fridge does wonders for the flavours melding). Yum!