Recipe: Polynesia Cafe’s banana cream pie

What makes this so magical? Perhaps the secret lies in the coconut macadamia nut pie crust.

*Editor’s note: Polynesia Cafe, formerly located at 5-5190 Kuhio Highway in Hanalei, Kauai, has since closed, but their famous banana cream pie will live on with this recipe. Enjoy!


HAWAII magazine reader Ronda Rastler e-mailed us on a mission to find the recipe of a favorite island treat from her last visit:

While on Kauai I had the pleasure of eating the banana cream pie at the Polynesia Cafe in Hanalei. It was the most wonderful pie with a coconut macadamia nut crust.  Do you have the recipe?  I would love to be able to make it.

You ask, we answer.

Banana cream pie may not be the first food treat that pops into mind when you think of Hawaii. But for true lovers of fresh-baked, fresh-ingredient filled pie, indulging in a slice while soaking in a Hawaii sunrise—or really anything in the Islands—may be the next best thing to a glimpse into heaven. With banana farms scattered throughout the Islands, it’s no wonder banana cream pie has become such a loved treat here.

So what makes Polynesia Cafe’s recipe so dear to Ronda’s heart?

banana_cream_pie_hawaii_Polynesia_Cafe_recipeWe’re guessing it’s because the recipe calls for a homemade coconut macadamia nut pie crust made with island-grown mac nuts. Or it could be the thick layer of fresh sliced bananas nestled under the sweet filling. Ask Polynesian Cafe owners Jhoane and Thames Goodwin, however, and they’ll tell you the secret to their pie’s flavor is the cafe’s country setting—“Hanalei with the magic of Kauai in the background.”

Jhoane and Thames fell in love on the north shore of Kauai and decided to open up the Polynesia Cafe together. Not only do they offer a killer banana cream pie, but also a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. We rang up Thames, who was gracious enough to dish up the secret recipe to his banana cream pie and its coconut macadamia crust for readers.

Mahalo Thames!


Polynesia Cafe banana cream pie

 1 baked pie shell – recipe below
 3 cups whole milk 
3/4 cup white sugar 
 3 tbsp. white flour
 3 tbsp. corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt 
 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten 
 2 tablespoons butter 
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 to 3 bananas

First, for the coconut macadamia nut pie crust:

In a food processor blend 1 cup of macadamia nut pieces with ¼ cup sugar to the consistency of chunky peanut butter.

In a bowl combine the nut mixture with 1 cup shredded coconut until well mixed.

Press mixture evenly into pie pan. Lightly press aluminum foil over the crust to help hold the shape while baking. You may wish to fill the foil with pie weights or pinto beans to help maintain shape.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Now, for the filling:

In a large saucepan, heat 2 1/3 cups of the milk to 190 degrees F.

In a bowl combine the sugar, flour, salt and cornstarch. Gradually stir in the remaining 2/3 cup of milk—start by incorporating a little milk to make a paste, then thinning out the paste with the remaining milk. If you do this gradually, you will not have any lumps in the liquid.
Stirring the saucepan of milk constantly, gradually add the contents of the bowl to the heated milk and cook until it thickens. The stirring motion should insure the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Once the mixture is thickened, lower the heat and it cook for another minute or two while you follow the instructions below for incorporating the egg yolks into the mixture.
With the 3 slightly beaten egg yolks in a bowl, stir rapidly as you gradually pour small amounts of the hot mixture from the pot into the yolks. Be careful not to add too much too fast; you want to avoid scrambled egg yolks.

Once you’ve added about a cup of the hot liquid, the tempered egg yolks can be stirred into the hot pudding mixture in the pot. Cook for about a minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
Completely cover the bottom of the pie shell with sliced banana pieces then pour the hot pudding mixture into the shell. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

If refrigerating, wait until you can comfortably hold the palm of your hand against the bottom of the pie pan before placing into the refrigerator.


Categories: Food, Recipes