Banana Caramel Tart
The original recipe for this tart in The Union Square Cafe Cookbook calls for more butter, more sugar, and a higher temperature for the initial baking than what I have laid out below. After fussing with it a bit, though, this is what I came up with. It’s a wonderful confluence of textures: the tart dough is flaky, the bananas soft, and the caramel crunchy.
Banana Caramel Tart
8 tbsp butter
1/4 C sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C all-purpose flour
About 4 large ones ought to do you just fine.
1/2 C sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp butter
Dough first! Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the yolk, water, and vanilla and blend well. Add the flour, and mix just until blended. Gather the dough together in a ball, then flatten it with the heel of your hand into a small, thick disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it chill in your fridge overnight, or at least for a few hours.
When your dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 425°.
You’re going to roll out the dough directly onto the buttered and floured bottom of a 9″ springform pan (set the rim aside; you won’t be using it for this tart). It should be about 1/8″-1/4″ thick, and will end up overflowing the sides of the pan when you roll it out. Just cut off the overflow once you’re done.
If you like, you can instead roll it out about 1/8″ thick onto a lightly floured surface and use it to line small tartlet pans instead, for a somewhat more elegant and easier to pick up set of tartlets.
Bake the tartlet shells or tart base at 425° for about 12-14 minutes, or until cooked through but not yet turning gold around the edges. While they’re baking, it’s time to prepare the bananas. Peel them, keeping them whole. Slice them into thin slices on a sharp diagonal, keeping the slices together and discarding the ends.
Once the first baking of the dough is done, remove it (or them) and lower your oven temperature to 375°. Let the dough cool, and then lay on the banana slices. For smaller tartlets, it’s self-evident how few slices they can handle. With the full-sized tart, however, there’s a bit of a trick to laying the bananas out nicely. Position one of the sliced bananas about an inch from the edge of the tart base, following its curve. Fan the slices out so that they head towards the edge of the dough and span about half of its circumference. Another banana, laid out the same way, should cover the other half of the circumference of the tart. fill in the center by fanning out the other bananas in a spiral pattern.
Bake the now banana-laden tart (or tartlets) for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. While that’s going on, prepare the caramel. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl, larger than your saucepan. Combine the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring insofar as is necessary to melt the butter in time. Once it reaches a boil, stop stirring and let it caramelize to a medium amber, swirling the pan if one area seems to be darkening faster than the rest. As soon as it reaches a color you like, remove it from the heat and set the saucepan into the ice bath in order to stop the caramel from cooking further. Remove it from the icebath quickly and set it aside while still warm.
Take your tart (or tartlets) from the oven, and drizzle the caramel over it (or them). You may have to re-melt the caramel if it hardens too much for proper drizzling.