Caramelized Banana Tart with Hazelnut Cream
It's Persian New Year! I was at my local Persian grocery store today and I noticed an abundance of whole hazelnuts being sold. They looked beautiful, so I bought a large bag of nuts, which were eaten fairly quickly by all the family. I turned the remaining nuts into a fine mill and made frangipane tarts in the evening.
To make the dessert look ultra fancy without being too complicated, I topped the hazelnut cream with bruléed bananas. Caramelizing the bananas brought out additional flavors that really complemented the hazelnut cream and the flaky puff pastry.
My cousin's husband Hoss from Ohio is Persian, so we called him to send him our best wishes. But unfortunately, he changed his number and didn't tell us. The person who picked up was utterly confused. So Hoss, if you're reading this, "Happy Nowruz"!
Yields: 6 mini tartlets4 ripe bananas
6 (5 x 5-inch) squares frozen puff pastry dough (store-bought)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, + extra for greasing the molds
1-½ teaspoons pure banana extract (optional)
1 egg, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar, to taste
12 tablespoons hazelnut powder, (10 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, freshly ground
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the tart shells:
Make sure the puff pastry dough is thawed but still cold so it's easy to roll out. Place the dough in 6 individual mini pie shells previously lined with parchment paper (or in a 9-inch pie pan). Follow the curve of the molds and crimp the dough against the edge. Gently press the dough with your fingers so there are no air bubbles. Leave a little excess above the edge because the dough will settle a bit in the oven. Prick the dough with a fork 3-4 times to let some of the steam out as they bake.
Making the hazelnut buttercream filling:
Using the back of a fork, mash 1 banana. In a non-stick pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mashed banana and cook until well seared. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss well. Once the purée slightly thickens, turn off the heat.
Using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk the egg with 3 tablespoons sugar until you get a pale yellow foam. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency should be very airy. Add the banana extract (if used) and the mashed banana mixture. Set aside.
Cream the softened butter (at room temperature). Pour in the egg mixture. Add the hazelnut powder. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Cinnamon sugar: On a plate, combine 4 tablespoons sugar, salt, vanilla powder and ground cinnamon. Mix well.
Making bruléed bananas: Peel the bananas. Cut them in thirds, lengthwise. Place the sliced bananas on the sugar mixture. Coat the bananas on one side. Sprinkle with more sugar if necessary, then caramelize with a culinary torch until the sugar melts and starts to bubble. The sugar will caramelize and can burn fast, so watch it carefully as it changes color until the sugar crust is formed.
Fill the tart shells with banana hazelnut cream.
Bake for 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 30 minutes. The dough should be flaky.
Remove from the oven and smooth the hazelnut cream using a flat spatula. Top with pieces of bruléed banana.
Let the tartlets cool for a few minutes. Remove the shells from the molds.
Serve them with a nice cup of hot Vietnamese coffee.
Remember to get a little more than 3 ounces of whole hazelnuts to get the correct amount of nut mill. Grind the blanched, peeled hazelnuts with a mortar and pestle or a food processor. The result should be a fine white mill. You could also replace them with any ground nuts such as almonds, cashews or walnuts.
Parchment paper is very convenient if you use molds that aren't non-stick. If you're extra cautious, grease the molds with butter before lining them with parchment paper.
I purposely didn't over-sweeten the hazelnut cream so the flavors are well balanced with the bruléed bananas.
Don't discard the remnants of puff pastry. Make some cheese twists the next day!
I buy pure vanilla powder at my local market. It's called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040. You can also find it online.
If you don't have a blow torch, you can place the bananas under the broiler until the sugar caramelizes. But if you make crèmes brulées as often as we do, a culinary torch is a good investment.
You can make these fruit tarts with any fruit and nut combinations, such as plums, apples, peaches, apricots, apples, figs, walnuts, pistachios, etc... -depending on the season. Be creative!
Check out my other desserts by clicking on the link.Published By: on March 22, 2012.