This is my tardy response to Pi(e) Day! As a shortcrust lover, I consider tarts to be the improved version of pies. #62: Banana Cream Tart
Is anyone else obsessed with bananas in baked goods? Not that terrible artificial banana flavor they use in candies like Laffy Taffy, but real honest-to-goodness bananas. Some of my best dessert memories are banana-based:
- Banana & chocolate croissant from B Patisserie in San Francisco (I’m still dreaming about it)
- Bananza fudge caramel ice cream from Cupcake Royale in Seattle (I went back three times to get pints of it!)
- Banana jam, chocolate & pistachio sundae at Rhubarb in Asheville (It completely stole my heart)
Trips down dessert-memory lane are good for the soul. 10 out of 10, would recommend.
One banana dessert that hasn’t crossed my path yet is banana cream pie. Surprising, I know. Besides banana bread, I think it might be the most common use of the fruit in baking. Despite never trying it, I knew it was bound to be a favorite. Custard-y pastry cream, a thick, buttery crust and a dash of chocolate. Yes, please.
Instead of going with the classic pie (with thinner, taller crust), I chose to go with the tart version. The crust is closer to a shortbread cookie and it holds it’s shape post-bake without the support of a pan. In my experience, short-crust dough is less finicky than pie dough. The mix of different kinds of fats in pie dough (such as shortening) may produce the ideal flaky texture, but it can also prove difficult to work with.
But seeing as it is still a sweet filling in a buttery crust, it totally counts for celebrating Pi(e) day! Better late than never, right? Since I was on vacation last week, I made sure to go find a classic piece of pie on the 14th to celebrate. It was a fudgy chocolate chess pie and was incredibly rich. I’m going to try and branch out into the fruit pie realm when summer hits – cherry pie, anyone?
I caved and bought the pound bar of chocolate. Now I’m ready for any chocolate emergency that comes my way.
The beginnings of mis en place. It’s worth the extra time! No more oh-no-I-don’t-have-enough-eggs moments. It’s like a metaphor for adulting . . .
I held my breath as I made the pastry cream. I hadn’t managed to make a successful self-thickening pastry cream and I couldn’t figure out why! This is the first step, mixing the sugar with the egg yolks, before tempering it with simmering vanilla milk and then cooking the mixture for 2 minutes or so over low heat.
Ta-daa! It thickened! You can see that it’s thick enough to hold a chunk of butter on top. *happy dance* I then mixed that butter in until smooth and chilled it.
Crust rolling time.
It’s a bit like playing with clay. To get the edges even, I rolled the rolling pin over the top of the pan. Magic!
I ended up baking it for twice as long as the recipe called for – more proof that you should pay more attention to the color of the crust than the timer.
Three layers of deliciousness – chocolate ganache (or in my case, leftover chocolate babka filling that I had in the freezer – use what you’ve got!), sliced bananas and lovely thick pastry cream.
Endless piping possibilities with the whipped cream!
More chocolate? Yes, please.
Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? All of the above.
I decided to add crushed banana chips for some added texture, though I added them as a garnish to each piece as it was served so they didn’t absorb all the moisture from the whipped cream and go soggy. I’m sure Mary Berry would agree – nobody likes a soggy topping.