I remembered about today's recipe late this morning, so it was a good thing I'd already planned to go to the grocery store. I wavered between making the original banana tart or the alternate Nutella version. The $10 jar of organic chocolate-hazelnut spread made the decision for me. Banana it is!
The chocolate shortbread dough was very simple to make. I love my food processor! I don't know how you'd make this dough without one. I used dutched cocoa, as that's what I had on hand. After adding the butter and egg, the dough starts to get grainy and then clumpy. Almost there...
Now we've reached maximum clumpiness. Perfect. Turn the dough out and lightly knead. At this point, I was ready to eat it. The smell of the chocolate and butter were very tempting.
Don't tell anyone, but I used my 9" springform pan instead of a tart pan. When we move into a house with a bigger kitchen, then I'll be able to justify buying more baking supplies.
I used a flat-bottomed drinking glass to even out the bottom of the tart crust, which unexpectedly mimicked a fluted pan in reverse. I don't have pie weights or dried beans, so I put the crust in the freezer for a while to eliminate the need for either. The bottom did puff up a little in the oven, but I pressed it down with the back of a spoon. One thing I didn't do was butter the foil before pressing it into the crust.
Oh, so THAT's why I was supposed to do that. I guess sometimes it's better to follow directions than try to take a shortcut. Lesson learned, at least for today. What's that they say about hindsight?
The caramelized bananas were somewhat of a pain. Slicing them 1/8" thick left them too thin to withstand the heat of caramelization. The first banana turned to mush in the pan, so I turned off the heat and added another banana that I'd sliced slightly thicker. In any case, it tasted fantastic, even though I had cut the sugar down to 1 tablespoon.
The ganache was not as simple as it looked. I never knew that ganache has only three ingredients: bittersweet chocolate, cream and butter. The chocolate and cream came together beautifully and became smooth and shiny in a matter of minutes. But when I added the butter, something terrible started to happen. The ganache started to separate and become grainy, and no amount of mixing made the lumpiness go away. The harder I stirred, the worse it got. I finally gave up and put the bowl away in the refrigerator.
Later, as I waited for the tart crust to cool, I went online to diagnose my broken ganache. I found a very detailed article that told me, basically, that I did it. Me and my rookie mistakes broke the ganache.
Reasons for failure, according to Global Gourmet's Sherry Yard:
- Inadequate temperature control, i.e. chocolate gets too hot or too cold too fast.
- Chocolate is not very finely chopped.
- Stirring the ganache too vigorously.
Reasons for making all 3 rookie mistakes:
- Not reading the instructions clearly.
- Overall cooking & baking ignorance.
- Trying to take too many shortcuts because I'm in too much of a hurry.
I assembled the tart and realized that, even with the extra banana I added, there weren't enough caramelized bananas to cover the entire bottom of the tart. I have no idea how Dorie managed it. I also couldn't figure out how she made the perfectly concentric, bias-cut banana circles for the top of the tart. Food stylist? What's that?
We served it for dessert after an impromptu barbeque. Everything today was destined to be last-minute!
The verdict: grade B. It was good, but it didn't knock my socks off. It needed a bit more sweetness, and I think it was the dutched cocoa in the tart crust that made everything seem so...dry. The caramelized bananas were delicious with the ganache, and all of us were disappointed that there weren't more. Next time, I'd like to try a natural, non-dutched cocoa for the crust and I'd go overboard with the bananas. There's so much chocolate flavor that I don't think it's possible to have too many bananas.
UPDATE: There was no way we could finish the entire tart, so I wrapped up a few slices and stuck them in the freezer. WOW, am I glad I did that. The bananas held up surprisingly well and the thawed tart is wonderful!
You can see how the others fared here. And you must join us! It's no longer an option. Since we don't post the recipes for FFwD, you'll just need your own copy of Around My French Table. The cookbook has some wonderful recipes, so it's worth it, even if you don't want to blog about it!
Thanks for reading, and happy eats!