Food & Drink

Banana Cream Pie With a Twist

Try this signature Greenville dessert for National Banana Cream Pie Day

Photo: Soby’s New South Cuisine

Greenville, South Carolina, residents know where to get their banana dessert fix: Soby’s New South Cuisine has been serving a white chocolate banana cream pie since the restaurant opened in 1997. Chef Rodney Freidank, a member of the original Soby’s team and now the corporate chef of the city’s Table 301 restaurant group, swears by it. “It’s been Soby’s signature dessert since day one,” he says, and for National Banana Cream Pie Day on March 2nd, you can make it at home.

Soby’s take features a tart shell that Freidank describes as “sugary and crisp, made to mimic the vanilla wafers in banana pudding,” and a white chocolate pastry cream with fresh bananas and whipped cream folded in makes the filling. “Banana cream pie is already amazing,” Freidank says. “This is just a way of kicking it up and adding complexity to the flavor.” 

Freidank recommends making the pie dough or the pastry cream ahead to save in the fridge for a few days if you’re pressed for time (for the pastry cream, make sure you wrap it tightly in plastic so it doesn’t form a skin). Surprisingly, Freidank feels that the trickiest part of the recipe is shaving the white chocolate into curls with a knife for the garnish. Though Soby’s hand shaved the curls off of a giant block for years, Freidank says it’s easier to buy the shavings, or just use white chocolate chips. 

The final result makes for an unexpectedly light dessert. “You look at it, and you think, this is going to be so rich and so heavy, but then when you put it in your mouth, it’s like eating air,” Freidank says. 

Since 1997, Soby’s estimates it has served around 100,000 giant pieces of white chocolate banana cream pie. “It’s an eleven-inch tart, and we cut it into eight slices, which means the slices are enormous, and people just wolf it down like it’s nothing.” When you make it at home, Freidank says, you can add your own flair to it, using different finishes of fruit, chocolate, or cocoa powder. “For me though, I don’t need any of that. Just give me the pie.” 



    • 1¾ cups flour

    • ⅔ cup sugar

    • ½ pound butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, chilled

    • 1 egg

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


    • 1 cup milk

    • 1 vanilla bean, whole

    • 3 tbsp. cornstarch

    • ¼ cup sugar

    • ¼ tsp. salt

    • 2 eggs

    • ¼ cup white chocolate chips


    • 2¼ cups heavy cream

    • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

    • ¼ cup crème de banana liqueur

    • 1 cup white chocolate pastry cream, chilled

    • 6 ripe bananas

    • 1 11-inch tart shell, baked and cooled

    • 1 thick piece white chocolate, for garnish

    • Cocoa powder, for garnish


  1. For the tart shell: Place the flour and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add half the cold butter and mix for 30 seconds, then add the remaining butter. Continue to mix until all the butter is cut into the flour and the mix resembles sand. 

  2. Lightly beat together the egg and the vanilla in a small bowl and add it to the flour and butter. Continue to mix until a dough ball is formed. If the dough does not form a ball after 1 minute, add a few drops of water. Remove the dough from the mixer. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. 



  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready an 11-inch removable-bottom tart mold. 

  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a ⅛-inch-thick circle large enough to fit the mold. Press the dough into the tart mold. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Bake the crust for 16 to 18 minutes or until it is golden brown and crisp.

  5. For the pastry cream: Pour the milk into a heavy-bottom 2-quart saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of a small knife. Add the seeds and pod halves to the milk. Heat the milk until it is about to boil. 

  6. While the milk is heating, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and eggs until smooth. Temper the egg mixture with one-quarter of the hot milk and then add it back to the pan. Whisk to combine. Continue to cook on medium heat stirring constantly.

  7. When the custard thickens, remove it from the heat and whisk in the white chocolate. Pour the pastry cream into a container and place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream so no skin forms. Refrigerate until completely cool.

  8. For the pie: Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and crème de banana and whip to very stiff peaks.

  9. Place the cold pastry cream into another bowl and soften by mixing it with a rubber spatula. Slice the bananas into the pastry cream and stir to combine. Fold in the whipped cream.

  10. Mound the filling in the middle of the tart shell and smooth it down to the edge. Carefully cut the pie into 8 or 10 slices before garnishing. Using a vegetable peeler, shave enough white chocolate curls to cover the pastry cream. Dust the top with cocoa powder.

  11. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Excerpted from Soby’s New South Cuisine, by Rodney Freidank, Carl Sobocinski, David Williams, Richard Peck, and Stephen Stinson.