I think this recipe should have been called a double chocolate and double banana tart. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is an unusual dessert. The double chocolate comes from a chocolate shortbread crust and a thick layer of ganache. The double banana comes from a layer of caramelized bananas and a layer of fresh banana slices.
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned below, the primary other eater at my house doesn’t mix fruit and chocolate and wouldn’t have anything to do with a banana for a million dollars. So I had to get a little creative with this one. Once again, I went the mini route. The full pastry recipe made four mini tart shells. I’ve made the non-chocolate version of this crust before. With both versions, I just love the ease of the press-in dough. I also think the texture and flavor of the pastry is excellent.
The original plan was to make one banana mini tart and then figure out what to do with the others afterwards. As it turned out, my friend Karen came over for a visit, so I made two banana mini tarts for us to eat while we caught up.
The caramelized bananas didn’t actually come out the way I expected. I don’t know whether I sliced the bananas too thin, but they pretty much fell apart while they were caramelizing. I did transfer the mixture to a parchment-covered plate, but there wasn’t anything to pat off, and when it cooled, I was afraid I’d be stuck with a hard candy blob. So, I quickly divided the soft mixture to the mini tart shells to harden in place.
The ganache layer was simple to put together. Hot cream is poured over finely chopped bittersweet chocolate to melt the chocolate. Then butter is whisked in to finish the ganache. I spread the ganache over the bananas and let it cool in the fridge for about an hour. I only made half the ganache called for and used only half in these mini tarts.
To finish it off, I arranged sliced bananas over the chocolate and glazed it with melted apricot jam. They were gorgeous!
Karen and I had fun critiquing the tarts and figuring out how to perfect them. We thought the caramelized banana layer was the best part and that there wasn’t nearly enough of it. In a full tart, the layer must have been awfully thin. We thought the tart should have had at least twice as much caramelized banana in it. We also thought the double chocolate might have been overkill, and that a plain shortbread crust would have been better. We also didn’t love the apricot glaze. A simple caramel drizzle would have been nice and maybe a touch of crème anglaise.
Howard wasn’t at all disappointed to miss out on the chocolate banana tart, but he does adore chocolate. I took a cue from the bonne idée for this one and combined Dorie’s idea for a chocolate nutella tart with Karen and my ideas on improving the original and concocted chocolate caramel almond tarts with the remaining two chocolate shells.
I spread a thin layer of Trader Joe’s fleur de sel caramel sauce on the bottom, then I reheated the rest of the ganache and spread that on top. Finally, I toasted some sliced almonds and layered them on top of the ganache and let it rest in the fridge to firm up. To finish it off, I drizzled more of the caramel over the almonds just before serving. It was pretty, not as gorgeous as the banana version, but looking fine. It was rich, but Howard liked it. I could see making the full sized version sometime.
I don’t really know what’s going on this month. It’s nuts. Work is busy, though that’s normal, and my extra-curricular calendar is out of control. Next weekend, being Memorial Day, will kick off a summer of weekends at the lake, which could either way – forced relaxation or an increase to the mania. Time will tell.
I feel like I’ve barely been cooking or blogging beyond the weekly French Friday challenges, but here’s a quick one. The recent royal wedding left me with a craving for scones. Scones are probably my favorite quick bread. They’re personal-sized, not too sweet, and perfect with a cup of tea for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. I put together these almond-cardamom scones, featuring two of my favorite flavors. The recipe is loosely based on the recipe for Cardamom Shortcakes (as in Strawberry Shortcakes) from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley.
Inspired by Regan Daley
Makes 1 dozen
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup almond meal
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
½ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup half-and-half (plus a little more for brushing tops of scones)
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of scones
¼ cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt a few time to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal.
Transfer the flour mixture to a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg and half-and-half. Stir until the dough just comes together. It will be sticky.
Divide the dough in half. On a floured surface with floured hands, pat each half into a circle about ¾-inch thick (about 6 inches in diameter). Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Arrange the scones on the lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of each with half-and-half. Sprinkle with sugar. Top with sliced almonds. Press the almonds lightly to make them stick.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.