There are a few secrets necessary to successfully make this pie (which, incidentally, has been on the menu at Emerilís since day one, and continues to be one of our most requested desserts). First, the bananas, while ripe, need to be firm, so that they hold their shape when pushed into place. Second, the pastry cream needs to be very stiff, so that when sliced, the pie will not crumble or slide. Itís also important to cover the bananas completely with the last layer of pastry cream to prevent them from discoloring. At Emerilís, we pipe the whipped cream over each individual slice before serving, but feel free to spread your whipped cream over the whole pie.
Combine 2 cups cream, the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and the vanilla bean and seeds in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.
Combine the egg yolks, eggs, cornstarch, and 1 cup sugar in a medium bowl; whisk until pale yellow in color. Set aside.
Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture to the hot cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a large wooden spoon to cook out the cornstarch and thicken the mixture, about 5 minutes. (The mixture may separate slightly; if so, remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer until thick and smooth.) Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in refrigerator for about 4 hours.
To assemble, spread 1/2 cup of the custard over the bottom of the prepared crust, smoothing with the back of a large spoon or rubber spatula. Arrange enough banana slices (not quite one-third) in a tight, tiled pattern over the custard, pressing down with your hands to pack them firmly. Repeat to build a second layer, using 3/4 cup of the custard and enough bananas to cover, smoothing down the layer evenly. For the third layer, spread 3/4 cup of custard over the bananas and top with the remaining bananas, starting 1 inch from the outer edge and working toward the center. Spread 1 cup of custard evenly over the bananas to prevent discoloration. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and the vanilla extract and whip until stiff peaks form.
Remove the pie from the refrigerator. With a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut the pie into 10 equal slices. Transfer the slices to dessert plates. Fill a pastry bag with the whipped cream and pipe onto each slice. (Alternately, spread the whipped cream evenly over the pie before cutting.)
Drizzle each slice with the caramel sauce and chocolate sauce, sprinkle with the chocolate shavings and confectionersí sugar, and serve.
Makes one 9-inch pie, 10 servings