Friday, April 24, 2015

Banana Tartes Tatin

Tarte Tatin is an incredible French dessert that traditionally consists of apples simmered in caramel on top of the stove and then baked with a circle of puff pastry dough nestled on top.  It’s then flipped over and plated to reveal a showstopping display of tender fruit bathed in a rich caramel on a bed of buttery pastry.  It’s phenomenal.

This is a much simpler recipe from Bon Appetit that uses the same idea to showcase bananas.  It's prepared as individual servings and instead of making a caramel for the bottom, you simply butter the ramekins and line the bottoms with some brown sugar.  Then you arrange slices of banana and top with a circle of purchased puff pastry.  It’s probably one of the easiest to prepare desserts imaginable.

You can certainly use store-bought puff pastry if you have a brand you like.  I made a simple butter pastry called Rough Puff.  It’s a very streamlined version of puff pastry that isn’t difficult or complicated, it just takes a bit of time for folding and chilling if have the luxury of planning ahead. 

This is a super simple preparation fashioned out of basic ingredients that turns our to be a very satisfying dessert.  If you want to dial it up, you can easily enhance your servings with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Quite a good way to enjoy bananas with pleasure.

Bench notes:
- I added a pinch cinnamon mixed in with the brown sugar.
- Any size ramekin works as long as they are at least 1 1/2” deep.  If you don’t have ramekins, you can use an 8” square baking dish, placing a whole sheet of puff pastry in tact on top.
- The Rough Puff dough comes together very quickly in a food processor.  It will not look like a dough but rather like a slightly moist cottage cheese.  The important thing is to keep visible pieces of butter in tact and avoid blending it all into the flour.  When shaping and folding the dough, do your best to keep the edges straight and aligned.  Lightly dust with flour as you go and then brush off any excess flour before folding.

Banana Tartes Tatin
adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 4

2 oz (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) brown sugar                                        
4 firm ripe bananas
1 package of puff pastry, thawed
Rough Puff Pastry
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) flour                                          
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                  
4 oz (8 tablespoons) very cold butter
6 tablespoons (3 oz) very cold water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place four 4” x 1 3/4” ramekin dishes on a rimmed baking sheet.  Butter liberally with 1 tablespoon of butter for each dish. 

Evenly distribute 2 tablespoons brown sugar on the bottom of each ramekin.  Peel the bananas and cut on a diagonal into 1/4" slices.  Overlap slices of 1 banana per dish over the sugar, arranging in concentric circles to cover the bottom.

Cut rounds of puff pastry 4 1/2” in diameter.  Top each dish with 1 puff pastry round, tucking in the edges to fit.

Bake until the pastry is golden and puffed and the filling is bubbly, about 20 - 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and carefully invert onto serving plates.

If you’d like to make your own dough, place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and combine.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2” cubes and add.  Pulse just until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the cold water and pulse just until the mixture resembles something like a slightly moist cottage cheese.  Gather the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap.  Form a disc, seal it tightly and chill for 1/2 hour.

Lightly flour a work surface.  Roll the dough out to about an 8” x 4” rectangle, lightly flouring as needed.  Fold the shorter sides of the dough in equal thirds like a letter, keeping the edges as evenly lined up as possible.   With the open edges perpendicular to you and seam side down, roll it again into an 8” x 4” rectangle, lightly dusting with flour as needed and then using a pastry brush to remove any excess flour before folding.  Turn it and fold the shorter sides of the dough again into thirds.  Repeat this process one more time for a total of three times.  If at any point the dough starts becoming too soft or elastic, let it rest in the refrigerator for a while before continuing.  Lastly, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 1/4” thick.  Take both shorter sides and fold toward the center like a book, keeping the edges as straight as possible.  Then fold one side over the other so there are 4 equal layers on top of one another.  Wrap the dough and rest in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. 

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8” thick.  Brush off any excess flour.  Cut out circles 4 1/2” in diameter and place on a baking sheet.  Chill until ready to use. 

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