Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Banana Tart

I wish that Baked Elements included a photo of this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, a Chocolate Banana Tart. I had seen the recipe while flipping through the cookbook, but the name didn't grab my attention. If I had seen a photo of the tart, I'm sure I would have made it sooner. This tart has a sweet pastry crust filled with chocolate ganache (hiding a layer of bananas inside), topped with caramelized bananas and caramel. Somehow the mundane name "Chocolate Banana Tart" doesn't fully capture everything that's going on there.

Although I was temped to try and make the crust in the food processor, I followed the directions provided. I beat cubed cold butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, and then added an egg and flour. After shaping the dough into a disc and chilling it, I rolled it out, lined a tart pan, and froze the crust before blind-baking it. The baked crust was beautiful -- nicely golden, with very little shrinkage.

You fill the cooled tart shell with chocolate ganache, made from heavy cream and a 50-50 mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate. I put half of the ganache into the crust, laid on a layer of sliced bananas that I had tossed with diluted lemon juice and patted dry (you are supposed to use orange juice but I only had lemons on hand), and then I poured on the rest of the ganache and put the tart in the refrigerator to chill.
I left the tart in the refrigerator overnight and prepared the garnishes the following morning. To make the caramelized bananas, you cook butter and brown sugar in a skillet until it bubbles and then add sliced bananas, cooking them on both sides. The recipe says that you are supposed the cook the bananas until they are "browned," but my bananas weren't taking on color and I didn't want to overcook them. I tasted a small piece of banana and it was freakin' delicious. So warm, soft, and sweet -- it took all the willpower I had not to eat the rest! I took the bananas out of the pan, added a little heavy cream to the remaining liquid in the pan, cooked it until thickened, and poured the caramel into a glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.

I arranged the caramelized bananas on top of the tart and then went to retrieve the caramel that I had set aside in the measuring cup. The butter had separated out of the caramel, and it was oddly grainy. I dumped the caramel into a clean saucepan and put it back on the stove. I heated it and stirred, but it still wasn't coming back together. In desperation, I added a touch of corn syrup, and I was able to get it smooth out. Still, the texture was a little oily and I wasn't able to drizzle it onto the tart as I had planned. Instead, I poured it into a pastry bag with a small plain tip and piped it out onto the top of the tart. I'll admit that pouring super hot caramel into a piping bag isn't a great idea -- but desperate times call for desperate measures, and with the aid of some oven mitts, I was able to get the job done.

I thought that the finished tart looked okay, but it was hard to tell what it was at first glance -- the caramel covered most of the top and the bananas were nondescript bumps beneath it. But when I sliced the tart, the inside was beautiful -- you could see a neat layer of bananas inside the ganache, and everything held together neatly for serving. The sliced tart looked a lot more appetizing than the tart as a whole.

Even though I had kept the tart in the fridge overnight, I left it at room temperature for a couple of hours before serving, because hard ganache is one of my dessert pet peeves. So I can't say how the texture of my tart compares to what you would get if you didn't chill it for a prolonged period of time, or if you served it cold. But the texture of my tart was lovely. The crust was nice and firm, and the filling was creamy and smooth, yet held its shape.

All that said, I was a little disappointed in this tart. After tasting the amazing caramelized bananas, I had super high hopes for the finished dessert. But I thought the chocolate ganache was out of place; while it was decadent and delicious, it had such a strong flavor that it completely drowned out both the caramelized bananas and the caramel. This was a great tart, but I can't help feeling that it would be better if you dialed back the chocolate a to let the caramelized bananas shine -- I think that either chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse would do the job nicely.

Still, the caramelized bananas were a revelation, and as the Baked boys point out, you don't need to make the tart to have an excuse to make the bananas. I plan to come up with as many excuses as possible to make these caramelized bananas, and I hope to see a chocolate mousse-caramelized banana tart in my future as well!

Recipe: "Chocolate Banana Tart" from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Your tart slice looks beautiful. I didn't get a chance to bake this week, but was intrigued by the caramelized bananas in this.
Anonymous said…
Nice job! I had issues with the caramel too-- I suspect that there was too much butter in the recipe. I couldn't even get the bananas to caramelize properly, though they still tasted good. I agree that the chocolate is very intense; I would suggest a higher ratio of milk chocolate to dark chocolate to lighten it up a bit...
Anonymous said…
Beautiful! I suspect that this is how the tart SHOULD look! I'm not a raw banana fan at all, so I'm good with the chocolate ganache overwhelming them - in fact, I sliced my bananas really thin for the center. I also scrapped the caramelized bananas after several unsuccessful attempts, so I had quite a different result, but it's still a lovely tart in the end. Nice job with yours!
Sheri said…
Same on the caramel. I was short on time and just glopped mine on. Not pretty. And my slices were pretty unattractive - yours looks lovely! I think slightly thicker slices are nicer for the middle. Mine were super thin like Mark's.