William T. Templeton - Banana Bandit
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Francisco's Banana Walnut Tart




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Francisco's Banana Walnut Tart
Food & Wine's Best of the Best

Food & Wine Books, Editor in Chief Judith Hill, 2000, American Express Publishing Corp.
Out of Print, Used & Rare


Dessert Circus at Home:<br>Fun, Fanciful, and Easy-to-Make Desserts
Dessert Circus at Home:
Fun, Fanciful, and Easy-to-Make Desserts

by Jacques Torres, 1998, William Morrow and Co.

Please, please, please do NOT be discouraged by the apparent length of this recipe. Jacques Torres is one of the best culinary teachers around, in addition to being an excellent chef. The length of the recipe is due in part to the fact that he shares a wealth of knowledge with us.

"This recipe was developed by my colleague Francisco Gutierrez. He has worked at Le Cirque for the last eighteen years, making tarts with the best ingredients available during the season. As far as I’m concerned, he makes the best tarts in town. One day we had a lot of extra walnut mix from the soufflé recipes. Francisco added some bananas and some almond cream and created this tart. We feature it at the restaurant and it is always one of the most popular tart specials on the menu. I like to use a tart pan with a removable bottom for this tart."

For the Crust
Pâte Brisée (recipe follows)

For the caramel walnut base
Scant cup (7 ounces; 200 grams) granulated sugar
Scant 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces; 100 grams) heavy cream
Scant 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces; 100 grams) whole milk
About 1 3/4 cups (7 ounces; 200 grams) chopped walnuts

For the filling
1/2 recipe Almond Cream (recipe follows)
4 to 5 large ripe bananas

To finish the tart
Powdered sugar for dusting or Apricot Glaze (recipe follows)

Prepare the crust:  Make the dough as directed in the recipe. I like to make this well in advance to give it time to rest in the refrigerator. This will allow any gluten that may have developed time to relax.
Prepare the caramel walnut base:
  Pour the granulated sugar into a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and turns a light caramel color. Watch it carefully; once the sugar begins to caramelize it can burn very quickly. When the sugar has melted and has turned a light golden brown color, slowly and carefully add the heavy cream. The addition of the cold cream to the hot caramel will cause the mixture to hiss and possibly splatter, so do not lean over the saucepan while you are adding it. When all of the cream has been added, mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Remember to mix into the edge of the saucepan where the caramel can stick. Add the milk and mix thoroughly. Add the chopped walnuts and mix until well combined and the walnuts are evenly dispersed. Insert a candy thermometer and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). At this point, the caramel will have thickened and darkened slightly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the filling into a heatproof bowl Let cool. (This recipe amount yields more than needed for one tart and can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered with plastic wrap, for several weeks. I like to eat it on toast for breakfast!)
Prepare the filling:
  Make the almond cream as directed in the recipe. Sometimes I like to add a splash of dark rum [Amen!] for extra flavor. You will use the almond cream right away, so there is no need to refrigerate it. If using refrigerated almond cream, allow it to return to room temperature. Beat it with an electric mixer set on medium-high speed until it returns to its original volume and is once again light in color.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Assemble the tart:
  Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Lightly give the dough a few quick raps with the rolling pin to soften it slightly. This will make it easier to roll. Lightly flour the work surface and each side of the dough. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan by rolling it around the rolling pin. Unroll the dough over the tart pan. Gently press the dough into the pan, especially where the bottom and the side of the pan meet. Don’t forget to press the dough up the side of the pan; this will help the dough hold its shape as it bakes. Remove any excess dough by rolling the rolling pin over the top of the pan to make a nice clean cut. Dock the bottom of the tart shell with a fork.
Spread about a 1/4-inch-thick layer of almond cream in the bottom of the tart shell. Peel the bananas and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the banana slices in concentric circles, starting at the edge of the tart shell and working your way toward the center. Leave about a 2-inch-diameter circle in the center of the tart. Fill this circle with the caramel-walnut mixture. Sometimes I like to sprinkle granulated sugar over the tart just before baking; this gives the bananas a nice crust.
Bake the tart until light golden brown and the filling forms a light crust, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack until the tart has completely cooled.
Unmold the tart:  Simply push up on the bottom of the tart pan and remove the side. Use a flat metal spatula to slide the tart onto a flat plate or platter. (If you use a plate with lightly raised edges, the tart will break.) If you did not use a tart pan with a removable bottom, you will need to invert the tart to remove the pan. To do this, invert a flat plate over the cooled tart. Place one hand on each side, grasping both plate and tart pan, and flip them both over so that the tart pan is now on top. Gently lift off the tart pan, invert a second flat plate over the bottom of the tart. Once again, flip both plates so that the tart is upright. Remove the first plate.
You can lightly dust the tart with powdered sugar before serving or top with apricot glaze. If you use apricot glaze, prepare it as directed in the recipe and brush it onto the tart with a pastry brush.

Variations:  This tart can also be made with peaches, apples, apricots or figs. (Peel and core the apples. Pit the peaches or apricots. Slice the apples, peaches, apricots, or figs.) When I have a little more time, I poach some pears (peeled and cored) in 1 quart (32 ounces; 1 liter) of water with 1 cup (7 ounces; 200 grams) of granulated sugar, 2 scraped vanilla beans, the juice of 1 lemon, and the grated zest of 1 lemon. I bring them to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat until tender. Before adding the cooled poached pears to the tart, I drain them on a wire rack placed over a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Then I slice them and arrange them on
the tart.

Pâte Brisée

Yield: 15 ounces (415 grams); enough for one 10- or 12-inch tart

"Pâte Brisée is one of the three classic recipes that form the basis for most tarts. It is similar to a shortbread dough. It is very important to use a good-quality butter, since the taste is very prominent in this recipe.|
I learned how to make pâte brisée from my mentor, Louis Franchain. He explains that while the components of the recipe are quite simple, the results depend on the technique for making the dough and understanding how the ingredients interact. Mastery of this very simple recipe is a key to making good tarts."

1 2/3 cups (9 ounces; 250 grams) cake flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4.5 ounces; 125 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced
Scant 1/3 cup (2.3 ounces; 65 grams) cold water

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter all at once and coat evenly with the four mixture. Work in the butter with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. The easiest way to do this is to grab a handful of flour mixture and butter, then gently rub the two between your hands to combine them. As you rub, the mixture drops back into the bowl. Keep doing this until most of the butter is combined. If your hands are too warm, the butter will melt. If necessary, wash your hands in ice-cold water every few minutes. Make sure your hands are dry when you return to the mixture, Stop working the mixture while you can still see small chunks of butter. This will make the dough softer and more crumbly.
Add the water all at once and work it in with your hands until the dough holds together. Be careful not to overmix or you risk overdeveloping the gluten, which will cause the dough to be tough and chewy rather than delicate and crumbly. When the dough holds together in a ball, place it on the work surface and knead gently until smooth, about 30 seconds. If the dough is sticky when you begin, very lightly flour the work surface before you knead the dough. If the dough is dry and ropey, just keep kneading it until it becomes smooth and moist. Pat the dough into a disk and place on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using. This will give any gluten strands that have developed a chance to relax. Then proceed with the dough as directed in your particular recipe. The dough will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for 1 week or in the freezer for 1 month.

Almond Cream

Yield: 1 3/4 cups (16 ounces; 425 grams)

"Almond cream is always baked to a spongy, cakelike texture and can be used by itself or in combination with nuts or fruits. The addition of starch to this recipe ensures that it will not run out of a pastry shell during the cooking process. Its moist and flavorful qualities make it perfect for use as a filling in cookies, tarts, and
puff pastries.
The recipe is easy to remember: 1 part butter, 1 part almond flour, 1 part sugar, 1/5 part eggs, 1/7 part all-purpose flour. With that in mind, you can make as much or as little as you like."

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4.5 ounces; 125 grams) unsalted butter, softened
Generous 1/2 cup (4.5 ounces; 125 grams) granulated sugar
Generous 1 cup (4.5 ounces; 125 grams) almond flour (available in specialty gourmet stores and health food stores)
1 large egg
Scant 1/4 cup (0.75 ounce; 20 grams) all-purpose flour

Place the butter, sugar, and almond flour in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The mixture will be dry and sandy until the butter begins to incorporate. Add the egg and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. The egg is well incorporated when the mixture is light and creamy, about 3 minutes. The batter lightens in color and increases in volumes due to the incorporation of air by the mixer. It is important to allow time to beat in air; otherwise the almond cream will be too heavy and will not have as great a rise when baked, causing the texture to
be dense.
Add the all-purpose flour and beat on low speed just until it is no longer visible, about 30 seconds. If you overmix, gluten will overdevelop and the almond cream will lose its delicate texture when baked.
Pour the almond cream into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days until ready to use. While in the refrigerator, the almond cream will darken in color and lose some of its volume. This happens because the butter hardens and the incorporated air escapes. You can also freeze the almond cream for several weeks. In either case, allow it to come to room temperature before using and beat it lightly with an electric mixer set on medium speed until it returns to its initial volume and is once again light in texture and color.

Apricot Glaze

Yield: about 1/4 cup (2.6 ounces; 75 grams)

"I use glaze to give a professional finish to a tart or cake. You can make almost any kind of fruit glaze you like using any flavor of jam. I use apricot because it is clear and has a neutral flavor. You may have to adjust the amount of water based on the consistency of the jam. Heat the glaze until it is liquid enough to apply with a
pastry brush."

1/4 cup (about 2.6 ounces; 75 grams) apricot jam
About 1 tablespoon (0.6 ounce; 15 grams) water

Mix the apricot jam with the water in a small microwavable bowl and heat in the microwave set on high power or in a nonreactive 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until liquid. Brush it on with a pastry brush. The glaze can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Visit Jacques Torres online.

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