Recently I’ve had a ton of birthdays. I don’t know why, but March seems to be a popular month amongst people near me to turn older and remind me that in a few more months I will also be adding a year to my belt. This of course, after you’ve passed the 25 mark, is always catastrophic. And while I know that I’m not ancient and that not only the blogging world but the world in general is full of articles praising your late 20’s and telling you how it’s the best time of your life, it still panics me a bit to be reminded I’m also getting older. But. Birthdays also remind me that I have an excuse to eat tons of dessert, have too many drinks and in general be merry. Because as we get older our celebrations evolve with us, and, to my great enjoyment, increasingly involve better food and more importantly, more dessert. (And thankfully, more wine and less tequila shots). But the truly great thing about birthday desserts, is that you get to enjoy them like a little kid, because when you get a killer combo of sweet ingredients that take you back to that very first birthday when you put bananas and chocolate in your mouth, and realised the world was in fact a great place worth making a life in, we all become little kids. And in that moment the crow’s feet round your eyes are purely from smiling. (Except for those unfortunate souls who don’t like chocolate.). This tart, with it’s chocolate ganache, fresh bananas, toasted almonds and whipped cream topping, will actually make you wish you had even more reasons to feel old, just so you could whip one up once a week.
Note: while this tart is very easy to make, if you’re not comfortable making tart shells or are in a hurry, feel free to swap the one in the recipe for a store bought one. Just make sure it’s chocolate! Recipe after the jump.
Chocolate banana & almond tart
Yields 1 11 inch tart
For the shell:
225 grs flour
125 grs butter, cold and cut into small cubes
125 icing sugar
40 grs dutch cocoa powder
50 grs almond meal (almond flour or finely ground almonds)
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
350 grs dark chocolate couverture, (or dark baking chocolate of your choice, just make sure it comes in chips or small pearls)
350 ml whipping cream
1 cup whole almonds with skins
For the whipped cream topping:
250 ml (about a cup) whipping cream, cold
3-4 tbsp icing sugar
·Preheat the oven to 360ºF. In the bowl of your standard mixer using the paddle attachment, mix on med speed all of the ingredients except the egg until it resembles coarse sand and you can’t see any lumps of butter bigger than a small pea. Add the egg and mix for 5 to 10 seconds on low. Turn the dough out unto the counter top, and using the lower palms of your hands, rub the dough against the counter, forming it into a smooth uniform ball with as little handling as possible (to keep the butter from heating up) . You should only pass your hand over the same patch of dough once or twice. Set aside covered with a cloth. (If either the dough or the room are warm, place it in the fridge). Prepare your tart mold by placing it on a baking sheet lined with a mat or wax paper. Roll out the dough to a large circle, about 1/4 of an inch thick and well over 11 inches in diameter. Using the rolling pin, transfer the dough to cover the tart ring, and gently press it into the corners of the mold. Roll the pin over the tart to trim the excess evenly.
· Using plastic film, lay a long (really long, at least two hands should extend over the tart on each side) piece horizontally over the tart and then a second piece vertically, forming a cross of film. Fill the tart with baking weights or rice, then press together the edges of the plastic film forming a loose “bag” inside the tart. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the plastic film with weights, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the shell looks completely “dry”, or lighter in color. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
NOTE: Here is a great video showing the process of lining and weighting a tart.
* While your shell bakes, toast your almonds by placing them on a baking sheet with a rim. Pop them in the oven until golden. (about 5-8 minutes). Let them cool a bit and chop them into very small pieces.
· Make the ganache; Place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a heavy bottomed pan, and as soon as it looks about to boil, pour it over the chocolate. Let this mixture rest for about 5 minutes, then whisk energetically. It will come together into a smooth ganache.
· Pour half the ganache into the tart shell. Cut the bananas into slices half an inch thick, and place them in concentric circles inside the tart, trying to leave as little space as possible. Sprinkle most of the almonds (save a couple tsp for the garnish) all over the bananas, and cover with remaining ganache. Smooth the top with your spatula. Place the tart in the fridge to set, at least 30 minutes.
·Whip the cream; in the bowl of your standing mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the cream on high speed for 3-4 minutes. Add the icing sugar 1 tbsp at a time; stop when you consider it’s sweet enough for your taste. (Consider this tart is very rich, so you don’t want to go too sweet).