So, yes…..It has been a few months–and a few major holidays–since my last post. But I see no reason to dwell on that, especially when there are pie pops to discuss. Agreed? Good. Onward!
When I owned Julie Anne’s, a small bakery/cafe here in Las Vegas, we had a popular sandwich called the Cinna-Monkey on the children’s menu.
It was on the children’s menu, but several times each day an adult would shuffle up to the counter and sheepishly ask in a low voice, “So…..um…..can I still order that Cinna-Monkey thing, even though it’s meant for kids?”
Like I said, it was popular. And why wouldn’t it be? Sliced bananas, cinnamon chunky peanut butter and honey were grilled between two hearty slices of whole wheat bread until crisp and toasty on the outside and warm and ooey-gooey on the inside.
Seriously, what’s not to love?
I was even known to opt for a Cinna-Monkey over a perhaps more sensible (but not nearly as fun) roasted vegetable salad after 8 or more hours on my feet. The classic combination of ingredients was comfort food at its finest, making mundane chores like calculating payroll at least slightly more tolerable.
The other day, I was flipping through my old cafe menu–not the best idea on an empty stomach–and I felt a bit of nostalgia for the muffins, cookies, scones, salads, soups and sandwiches that we used to prepare on a daily basis. I had also been planning to create a Valentine’s Day heart-shaped pie pop for Peanut Butter and Julie, but–wouldn’t you know it??–I had not yet decided on the flavor.
Then, the Cinna-Monkey Pie Pop was born!**
**Truth be told, that’s a bit of an exaggeration…..but it makes a much better story. The Cinna-Monkey Pie Pop is actually a recipe that I created for my first cookbook (175 Best Mini Pie Recipes — see sidebar), but I hadn’t thought of using it for this post until I looked at the Julie Anne’s menu.**
The crusts for these pie pops were created using heart-shaped cookie cutters, one slightly larger than the other to compensate for covering the peanut butter and banana fillings. If you don’t have heart-shaped cutters, you can certainly make the pops round (trust me, your taste testers won’t mind.)
I opted for a whole wheat pie crust–also from my book–to truly mimic the whole wheat bread used in the Cinna-Monkey sandwich. Although I encourage you to make your own crust (it’s not that hard, I promise), store-bought crust can be substituted.
The fillings are a kicked up peanut butter ganache and a butter and brown sugar banana saute. For this recipe, I used Peanut Butter & Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, which they were nice enough to send to me for sampling, but regular peanut butter works just as well.
The sweet honey glaze finishes things off, topped with lightly salted chopped peanuts (optional, but recommended.)
Below is a video tutorial that I did on assembling pie pops, filmed and edited by my talented friend Brandi Farra (check out her website here.) The pops in the video are apple-filled and round, but it will give you the general idea. Also, I blink too many times, and I could loosen up a tad……so please be kind. That said, the pie pops are completely comfortable on camera–total pros
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Filled with peanut butter, cinnamon and banana and topped with a sweet honey glaze, these pie pops will be as much of a hit with adults as they will with children . Make them in a heart shape for your Valentine or in a round shape for any day of the year.
- 2 cups (500 mL) whole wheat pastry flour (see Note)
- 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
- 8 oz (250 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tsp (10 mL) cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) ice water
- 6 oz (175 g) peanut butter baking chips
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) creamy peanut butter (See Note)
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) packed light brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp (.5 mL) salt
- 2 bananas, diced
- 3 cups (750 mL) confectioners' sugar
- 6 tbsp (90 mL) honey
- 3-4 tbsp (45-60 mL) milk
- 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water
- Chopped peanuts (optional)
- Pulse the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Scatter the butter over top and pulse several times, until pieces are the size of peas.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vinegar and ice water. Drizzle half the water mixture over the dough and pulse 4 to 5 times to combine. Add more of the mixture, 1 tbsp at a time, pulsing after each addition, just until the dough begins to hold together in moist clumps.
- Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Flatten it into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
- In a medium bowl, microwave the peanut butter chips and cream in 15 second bursts, stirring after each, until the chips soften and the mixture is smooth.
- Whisk in the peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon; set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir butter and brown sugar until butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in salt and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring, until thickened. Add bananas and toss to coat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Place confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Add honey and 3 tbsp (45 mL) milk and mix well. Add more milk as necessary, whisking, until a thick but pourable glaze is achieved.
- Divide the dough into two pieces, once slightly larger than the other. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller piece to slightly thicker than 1/16 inch. Cut out as many 3-inch (7.5 cm) rounds (see Note) as you can. Carefully transfer rounds to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing apart. Reroll scraps as necessary.
- Press the end of a paper or wooden lollipop stick into the bottom half of each round.
- Roll out larger piece of dough to slightly thicker than 1/16 inch. Using a slightly larger cutter (3-1/2 inch / 8.75 cm), cut out rounds, rerolling scraps as necessary.
- Brush smaller rounds with the egg wash. Place about 2 tsp (10 mL) banana filling in the center of each round. Top with 2 tsp (10 mL) peanut butter filling. Top each with a larger round, pinching edges firmly to stick and seal. Crimp edges with tines of a fork.
- Place pie pops, on baking sheets, in freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375F/190C.
- When ready to bake, poke 3 or 4 holes in each top crust with the tip of a knife. Bake for 22-25 minutes, switching position of baking sheets halfway through, until pops are puffed and brown.
- Let pops cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then drizzle with honey glaze and sprinkle with chopped peanuts (optional.) Let glaze set 10 minutes before serving.
For this recipe, I used Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, giving the peanut butter filling a chocolate-y twist. I also used two different sizes of heart-shaped cutters as opposed to round cutters. Whole wheat flour can be substituted for whole wheat pastry flour if you can't find it.