Okay friends, it’s confession time. When it comes to desserts, there is one that I love to eat ten times more than I like to make: pie. I take it back. Really, just pie crust. Don’t get me wrong. The steps to making pie crust are so easy, in theory. You simply combine flour with a small amount of sugar and cubes of butter. Once that has been worked together, you add water and knead. That’s it!
Despite the simplicity of the process, I still sometimes find it to be a bit of a pain. This is especially true when I’m making small pies and need to roll out the dough to create equal portions. It can be challenging to make sure the dough is just wet enough to be workable and not crumbly, but not too soggy so that it looses it’s flakiness and get’s tough. It’s a fine balance!
This week is all about problem solving. How can one make a tart or mini pie, without traditional crust? Well, after plenty of tasty experimenting, I have an answer for you: shortbread cups!
These guys, once mixed and baked, can be filled with just about anything under the sun! For these pies in particular, I went with the childhood favorite combo of peanut butter and bananas. Peanut butter ganache and caramelized bananas, to be exact. Just like the sandwich that Face on Nickelodeon used to talk about loving. Remember him? He was the freaking greatest. …Just like these pies!
Let’s get started! We’ll begin with the base, the most important part, the solver of all crusty woes: the shortbread. This shortbread recipe in particular is wonderful, because it involves melted butter. AKA, the butter which takes your workload, and throws it out the window. Not only is it simple, but it provides your dessert with a buttery taste and a crispy texture to boot! This time, we’ll actually be starting with our some of our wet ingredients. You’ll mix the melted butter, sugar, and salt together. Once those are combined, you’ll fold in the flour until the mixture is uniform.
You’ll notice that, at first, the shortbread will seem kind of loose. Pop your bowl into the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm it up a tad. While you’re doing that, you’ll prepare your muffin tin. One thing about using a muffin tin to make mini desserts, is that it can be difficult to get them out once they’ve baked. By cutting small strips of parchment paper to make an X with, over the cavity, you’ll be able to use those flaps to pull the crusts out later.
Once your shortbread is firmer, you can put about 2 tablespoons of it into each hole of the muffin tin. To get the crust up the sides of the cavities, the best tools you have are your fingers. These guys can bake in a 350 degree oven for about 17-18 minutes, or until they are golden brown. After taking them out, you may need to use the back of a spoon to press down the bottom portion, as it may have puffed up in the oven a bit.
While your crusts are cooling, you can get started with your fillings! You can choose to fill your cups up with fruits, curds, puddings, ganaches, anything! Personally, I’m starting with my top layer, peanut butter ganache because this will take the most time to cool in the fridge.
To make your ganache, simply heat your heavy cream over medium heat until steam just starts to rise from it. Then, pour it over your peanut butter chips and stir until the chips are completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Sometimes, I notice that the ganache still has lumps, so I’ll make a double boiler with the pan and water, and then heat the ganache using that, until it is smooth. The ganache can go into the refrigerator for a bit to cool, while the rest of the recipe is coming together. Eventually, when we use it, it should still be in liquid form, but thick enough that it’s flow can be controlled.
Next up, the caramelized bananas. In a previous life, I had always associated caramelized bananas with bananas that were cooked flambe style, flame and all. These days, I know that to caramelized simply means to cook with sugar. To do this, you’ll melt your two tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Then, you’ll add two slices bananas and two tablespoons of brown sugar. If you want to get crazy, you can even throw a dash or two of cinnamon in there! Cook the bananas until a syrup starts to form, and the fruit softens a bit. These can cool for a bit before being added to the tarts.
Once your tarts have been baked and cooled, and you can carefully remove them from the pan using the parchment paper tabs. Do this gingerly, as they are still pretty fragile.
Scoop in a tablespoon or so of bananas, to fill about half of the tart. Then, the ganache goes on to finish them off. You can choose to create a full layer, or drizzle it on with a piping bag like I did.
Tada! A perfect and tasty solution to your crusty woes. A solution, I might add, that Face would be perfectly proud of. In his creepy, endearing way.
Next week, we’re getting ready for a pretty special day: Poppa Daly’s birthday!
Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry,
Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Tarts
A crispy tart, filled with the perfect combo of sweet bananas and peanut butter.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 6oz. peanut butter chips
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 bananas, cut into ¼ inch thick coins
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix sugar into melted butter until uniform.
- Add vanilla and stir.
- Fold in salt and flour until the mixture is without lumps. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to allow it to set and become firmer.
- Line 8 cupcake tin cavities with strips of parchment paper, placed into an “X” shape.
- Scoop 2 tablespoons of firm shortbread into each of the eight lined cavities. Use fingers to press up the sides.
- Place pan to reset in the refrigerator for 10 minutes before baking.
- Bake tarts for 18-20 minutes, or until slightly brown. Allow to cool before filling.
- Heat cream over medium heat until it first starts to simmer.
- Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.
- Stir until smooth, set aside until cooled and thickened.
- melt butter in a medium skillet, over medium heat
- add bananas and brown sugar
- cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar becomes a bubbly liquid and sticks to bananas
- allow to cool before filling tarts
- scoop about a tablespoon of bananas into each cooled tart shell so that they are filled about half to three quarters of the way full
- apply ganache – use piping bag to drizzle over bananas or fill the remainder of the cups
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