Friday, September 21, 2012
For some reason, the idea of fresh bananas in a dessert has never appealed to me. Banana split leaves me cold, so to speak :). Then one day we were at a restaurant (great restaurant, I should say) and there was nothing on their dessert menu that would appeal to me. They did go to great lengths to describe their banoffee tart though. And I had just read a recipe for a banoffee pie in Jamie Oliver's book. He claimed that it was the most popular dessert at a pub where he once worked. So I rolled my eyes and ordered it.
It was delicious. Turns out, bananas work great with one of the favorite treats of my childhood - boiled condensed milk. Have you guys ever had it? This is what we used to do growing up in Russia: you take a can of regular sweetened condensed milk, submerge it in a pot of water and boil for a few hours. It was exciting for two reasons: tasty treat anticipation and a sense of danger. You see, those cans tended to explode every now and then. Then you had to scrape your home-made toffee off the ceiling. The trick, apparently, is that the can must always be completely under water.
The resulting substance has thick, creamy texture, lovely caramel color and rich toffee taste. These days you can buy boiled condensed milk in Russia in stores, ready to be consumed. But what's even better is that in the States you can buy that, too. Apparently, Russians are not the only ones to discover the joys of cooked condensed milk. In Hispanic stores and in the ethnic sections of supermarkets you can find cans of Dulce de Leche - exactly the same thing. No hours of waiting. No explosions.
I borrowed the recipe for pate sucree, or sugar dough, for this tart from Baking Illustrated. Sometimes the filling is the most exciting part in tarts, and the shell is just a container for it. But this crust comes out tender and only slightly sweet. Very buttery. In fact, I baked the scrapes of the dough as cookies - they were fine on their own.
The whipped cream has a hint of coffee to make things more interesting.
I used those tiny red bananas because I find their flavor more concentrated. And, they look great in photographs!
Makes one 9 inch tart or four 4 1/2 inch tartlets
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon whipping cream
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (180 gr) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 gr) powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (113 gr) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) cubes
For sugared almonds
1 cup whole almonds
2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 can Dulce de Leche or boiled condensed milk
4 regular sized bananas or 8 small bananas, cut into circles
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons instant coffee, dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon hot water and cooled completely
Whisk egg yolk, cream and vanilla. In a food processor, mix flour, sugar and salt. Add butter, pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the yolk mixture, pulse until dough forms (do not overprocess). Shape into disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate from 1 to 48 hours.
Roll out the dough, transfer to tart pan. Excess dough can be removed by running the rolling pin over the edge of the pan. The scraps can be shaped into cookies and baked separately. Cover pan with plastic and freeze 30 min. Line pan with foil, fill with dry beans, rice or pie weights to prevent sides from falling.
Bake at 375F (190C) 30 min. Remove foil and beans, bake another 5 minutes, until golden. Cool completely.
Rinse almonds with water, drain well and mix with powdered sugar. Spread over cookie sheet and bake at 350F (180C) 15 minutes. Cool.
Whip cream to soft peaks. Slowly add 2 tablespoons sugar, whip to stiff peaks, incorporating coffee and vanilla in the end.
Spread Dulce de Leche over the bottom of the tart, arrange bananas on top, then cover with whipped cream. Decorate with almonds.