Friday, May 18, 2012

Double Chocolate and Banana Tart - French Fridays with Dorie

Oh my goodness, is it Friday again already? I still haven't finished my FFwD post from last week! I guess that's what happens when you start getting all cocky about having posted every day for a month. I was bound to lose my stride.

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:
  1. Inadequate temperature control, i.e. chocolate gets too hot or too cold too fast.
  2. Chocolate is not very finely chopped.
  3. Stirring the ganache too vigorously. 
Number of things you're not supposed to do that I did: 3 out of 3.

Reasons for making all 3 rookie mistakes:
  1. Not reading the instructions clearly.
  2. Overall cooking & baking ignorance.
  3. Trying to take too many shortcuts because I'm in too much of a hurry.
There was a solution on the website, but it was complicated and involved double boilers, ice baths, and a food processor. I ended up improvising. I took the bowl out of the fridge, stirred the ganache again (it was still grainy), and put the bowl on top of the oven. The hot air coming from the oven vent slowly heated up the chocolate mixture . After a few minutes, I tried mixing the slightly-melted-but-still-mostly-cold ganache back together and, WHOA, but it worked. All of a sudden, I was back on track!

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!


  1. I'm glad you were able to save the ganache, your tart looks great. It's
    amazing the info we can find on the computer, I'm forever going
    there to see what I've done wrong. Tricia and I made different tarts,
    I used the nutella, which was good, and she went with the bananas.
    I would like to try this with berries sometime, I'll bet it would be delicious.

    1. I agree, the internet is a Godsend! Since I always post so late, I *could* look at everyone else's posts before taking a crack at mine, but I'm stubborn. I like to work the recipes blind, so I can work through the problems and also feel really good when the recipe turns out OK.

      Strawberries would be delicious in this tart. I wonder if the extra moisture would be a problem though? hahaha There I go again.

  2. Good for you for diagnosing the problem and saving the ganache! I would've thrown my hands in the air and skipped it. Great post!

  3. Sometimes, I am more proud when I save a dish than I am when I get it right the first time. Most notably bechamel sauces....
    Good save!

    1. We learn the most from our mistakes, right? I've never made a bechamel sauce, though, and now I'm a little nervous to try it!

  4. What a fun post to read and great pictures of all the different steps involved in preparing your wonderful Double Chocolate Banana Tart. It was nice that you could serve it as dessert to an impromptu BBQ. Nicely done! Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  5. What a great post! I have to say, I was guilty of many of the same things... but it's all good when it involves chocolate! I'm happy that you were able to revive your ganache. In the original version I've made forever, there's no butter... but who knows. I made the Nutella hazelnut version, though I keep hearing how great the caramelized bananas are, so that has me re-thinking. Your tart looks wonderful!

    Oh, and that bit about posting something every day - well that's just over the top! :)

  6. I really liked how easy this crust came together in the food processor too - it was a snap. Good for you for saving your ganache and I agree there should have been probably 3 caramelized bananas so there would have been enough to cover the whole bottom.

  7. Impressive efforts yield wonderful results ( ok that sounded a bit like a fortune cookie but you know what I mean). You did awesome !!! I am still managing to make each week's deadline by the skin of my teeth so I can relate to your schedule. Nana had made this early in a nutella version so I bought nutella, bananas and everything else -too much - late last thurs. oh well. Always an adventure :)

  8. Nice save! Those caramelized bananas are definitely worth going overboard on next time. I'm thinking a tart of just of caramelized bananas would be amazing.

  9. Such a nice post…so glad you were able to get this done! Your tart looks beautiful! Impromptu parties are the best!

  10. Sorry about your ganache, at least it worked out in the end! My bananas became mush also, I just used them as a spread on the bottom, and they totally were one of the best parts!