Friday, November 10, 2006
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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:
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
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
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
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
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.
Yield: 1 3/4
cups (16 ounces; 425 grams)
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
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
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
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.
1/4 cup (2.6 ounces; 75 grams)
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
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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Index - Pie Recipe
Basic Pie Crust