1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1. In a large saute pan, bring the butter to medium-high heat. Cook until the butter has melted, is bubbling, and is starting to turn brown. Slice the bananas and add to the butter with the brown sugar. Cook together until the brown sugar has melted and the bananas are caramelized; remove from the heat and let cool.
2. In a small sauce pot, combine the milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, and vanilla extract; stir together and bring to medium heat on the stove top. **Make sure to not let the milk burn or you have to start all over again.** You are looking for the milk to create whisps of steam, but never boil.
3. While the milk cooks, whisk together the cornstarch, 4 egg yolks, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Then, slowly pour in half of the hot milk, whisking continuously. Now, pour the egg yolk + milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve back into the pot with the remaining milk. Keep the milk on medium heat and cook until it starts to thicken to a pudding-like consistency.
4. Next, using an immersion blender or food processor, pulse the sauteed bananas into the pastry cream until it reaches a smooth consistency. Transfer to a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the pie.
5. Bake the pie crust in your preferred pie mold according to the directions of your favorite recipe.
6. Lastly, prepare the meringue: Using a stand mixer or hand beaters, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the whites hold their form, slowly pour in the sugar and cocoa powder, beating continuously. When everything is combined, transfer to a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator.
7. When you are ready to assemble the pie, fill the base of the shell with the banana pastry cream. Top with the remaining the banana slices. Clip one of the corners of the plastic bag and pipe the meringue over the bananas.
8. Finally, turn your oven to broil and place the rack in the center of the oven. Place the pie in the oven and cook until the top of the meringue is golden brown and toasted. Remove from the oven, slice and serve.