Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

I take my tarts very seriously. It ain’t a tart if the crust ain’t the least bit crunchy. What is that anyway?!

My memories and impressions of tarts date all the way back to when I was a little tyke, throwing tantrums when I didn’t get my strawberry and custard tart from Delifrance (that and a ham and cheese quiche – which I also take very seriously, but that’s another story for another day). There was something in that tart crust, a particular taste, besides being crunchy and hard. I still don’t know what that is, but I’ll find out eventually. The flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth sorts are good too, oh definitely, but it’s one that has crunch that really leaves a deep impression on me.

And yes, I’ve found the answer to that. 

Caramelizing bananas

Shortbread pastry.

No fussing around with cold butter, which is a tremendous plus for me until I get myself a food processor. I’ll reserve the flaky tart crusts for my quiches, but my tarts will get dense, crackly, sweet bases. And I could turn it into a chocolate version, or pecan, or walnut, or hazelnut, or almond, or coffee! And I also like to get waaaaayy ahead of myself, never really accomplishing anything in the end.

And a little sprinkle of sea salt..

 

I’ve been hankering for a good, intensely cocoa chocolate tart for ages, and you would think that I would have learnt by now that whatever I do crave for badly I should just re-create (or at least try to). I mean I know what I want right? Bittersweet, roasty chocolate layer, with a little something to cut the flavour just by a bit. And though this dark chocolate tart wasn’t intense enough – I eat Lindt’s 80% cocoa chocolate, so you must excuse me – boy was it absolutely delicious.

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

I know, I could have headed out, past the safety and threshold of my kitchen, and forayed into the staggering offerings of tarts and tart-wannabes everywhere. But why risk disappointment, and let’s not begin on the how we’re speeding towards the last 2 weeks of the year where gluttony rears its ugliest head yet. Don’t wanna waste calories on lousy food do we?

Besides, it’s like, “Hey it’s Christmas! The logcakes, fruitcakes, glistening glazed meats all honey-slicked to blinding perfection, and all the rich gravies aren’t going to come again till next year. Let’s all indulge shall we? And while we’re at it, how about we pop ten bottles of champagne and bring out that chocolate fondue to toast to the new year and the 10 parties/celebrations/gatherings/eat-for-the-heck-of-it we’ll be attending up till 2011.”

That is, of course, with the assurance that we’ll all be making and adhering strictly to our future New Year’s Resolutions to dial down on the omnomnoms. Mmhmm. And we all know how that’ll turn out.

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

 

I still can’t decide if I love my tarts cold or piping hot from the oven. Perhaps cold, like the ganache sort – thick and luscious. But if you simply adore your tarts oozy and melty then this is it, dive in when it’s done. I only wished I’d used 80% cocoa chocolate. So whatever chocolate you use – as with every other ingredient, ideally – use the best you can get. If it’s Lindt, then so be it (the best brownies I ever made were with Lindt). No Cadbury, nuh uh uh! Those are perfect in place of chocolate chips in cookies, but not as the main star of the show. As long as you’ve got your hands on anything that’s at least 70% cocoa, you’ve got a killer tart. Not to mention the caramelised banana layer…

Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

recipe adapted from ‘Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé’ by Dorie Greenspan

I used a shortbread tart base recipe I found on a French blog. This tart was meant to be a Warm Chocolate tart, infused with spicy peppers to give that bit of kick, but since most of everyone I could possibly feed this to aren’t very receptive to spicy chocolate, I did away with that and the rum and raisins. If you’re interested in that version, however, here it is on Zen Can Cook. Also, he specifies that both the chocolate and butter must be melted and cooled to 40C for a silky chocolate texture. My measurements could have been imprecise, or it could have been the quality of my chocolate used (then again he uses Valrhona..a mere mortal like myself shouldn’t compare, really), but my chocolate layer wasn’t quite as flawless looking. Nevertheless, this is one heck of a tart.

It is ready to eat after cooling a little from the oven, but is still wonderful after it has been refrigerated. Refrain from taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit around. Condensation ruins the crust and the texture of the tart.


Makes 1 9-inch tart – serves 8


Ingredients for the Shortbread Tart Base:

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 280g all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. Knead butter in a bowl and add in the sugar and salt, creaming well till evenly mixed.

2. Stir in egg well followed by flour. Do not overmix.

3. Pour out dough onto surface, divide it into two equal portions of about 290g each. Wrap each portion with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing it into a flat disc about 2cm thick. Refrigerate overnight. *

4. Take dough out 15 minutes before using. With another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the unwrapped dough (to prevent it sticking to the rolling pin/surface), roll it out into a circle of about 9 1/2 inches, or about 30cm. Line the tart pan with the dough. Replace lined tart pan in the fridge for 1/2 hour to chill.

5. Preheat oven to 160C. Line tart base with aluminium foil and fill with pie weights/beans/rice.** Bake for 15 minutes. Remove alumium foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes till golden brown.

6. Remove tart base from the oven and allow to cool.

Ingredients for Caramelised Bananas:

  • 3 ripe bananas, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs butter, unsalted

Directions:

1. Melt 1 tbs of butter in a large pan and place half of the banana slices in an even layer. Do not crowd the pan.

2. Sprinkle sugar on top of the slices and cook till golden brown. Flip the slices and repeat for the other side.

3. Remove the bananas from the pan and repeat with the remaining half of the bananas and 1tbs of butter.

4. Set aside to cool.

Ingredients for Chocolate Ganache:

  • 140g bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa), finely chopped
  • 110g unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 large egg tolks, room temperature
  • 2 tbs sugar

Directions (Putting everything together!):

1. Preheat oven to 190C.

2.Fill the bottom of the crust with the caramalized bananas (leaving 8 slices aside for decoration if you wish).

3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a two double boilers***, separate from each other. Let them cool to 40C**** (measured with a thermometer if possible). This is important in achieving a silky texture.

4. In a mixing bowl, gently mix the egg yolks, egg and sugar. Do not overbeat.

5. Once chocolate is cooled to 40C, gently stir it into the egg mixture with a spatula in steady, constant circles. Once incorporated, repeat the same with the butter. When mixture is smooth and shiny, pour it into the tart base, covering the bananas.

6. Bake the tart for 11 minutes. It should still be a little jiggly.

Notes:

*The recipe for the tart base makes enough for 2 9-inch thin tart bases. If you prefer yours on the thicker side, just chill the entire dough, roll out into your desired thickness and either use the remaining for smaller tartlettes, simple shortbread biscuits, or keep for another use. Whatever it is, the problem I encountered was that with a thicker crust, the remaining dough wouldn’t be enough for another tart base. The dough will keep in the fridge for a week, more if frozen.

**The method and purpose of placing beans/pie weights into a tart base is explained in depth here, under How to Pre-bake a Pie Crust. It’s important if you wish to have a crusty tart bottom and to prevent the sides of the tart from shrinking. This is also called Blind Baking.

***A double-boiler, also called a bain-marie consists of a heat-proof bowl set over or in a pot of boiling water, so that whatever you’re melting is done with indirect heat to prevent burning or an undesirable crust forming. Gentle melting, in other words.

****This isn’t very accurate, perhaps not even very safe, but it’s what I do sometimes and works best if you don’t have a thermometer – if you’re able to place the tip of a finger comfortably into the mixture, without any danger of scalding, then it’s about 40C. But of course thermometers are best.

5 responses to “Dark Chocolate & Banana Tart

  1. zenchef December 18, 2010 at 10:50 am

    You may be just a mere mortal but this tart belongs to the heavens. Beautiful!🙂

  2. Carine December 18, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Oh…my….
    You stole my heart…

  3. Amrita May 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I was surfing banana recipes…looking for something to do with the bunch browning on my fruit-dish right now, and I had to click on your recipe! That tart looks so oozy and gorgeous! This I’m filing away for an indulgent day!

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