A banana tarte tatin for my husband

I made this little dessert two nights ago for my husband, who I'd like to wish an early Happy Father's Day to!  I wish this had turned out a bit better for my hubby but he doesn't mind one bit - he's cool like that!

I wasn't sure I'd be able to squeeze in a little Father's Day post here because, invariably, this week in June is one of the busiest in our household.  The little guy's birthday is coming up on Monday so it always coincides with Father's Day.  On top of that, we're approaching the last day of school and there are always a healthy handful of year-end related events and to-do's to attend to.
A bit hard to tell...Banana Tarte Tatin (a recipe I made with mixed results but a lot of love)
This Sunday, I'm planning to cook Father's Day brunch (eggs and skirt steak with chimichurri) and I've got some tri-color cookies stowed away in the freezer; they are one of my husband's favorite treats so I'm ready to go in that sense.  But I also wanted to make him a little something different and my mind keeps going back to the banana tart at Union Square Cafe in New York City, an old-favorite restaurant of ours (before and after marriage, but pre-child).  

We usually went there for some kind of special occasion and often asked to sit in the tiny alcove balcony on the second level.  We always had a delicious meal...raw oysters, fried calamari, garlic chips, pasta, duck, steak (pretty much all in one night between the two of us).  It was delicious food in a friendly environment.  For dessert, while I always looked for something chocolate, my husband would pick the signature banana tart without fail.  It was a beautiful caramelized tart, topped with macadamia nuts and ice cream.

So I've been toying with the idea of trying to make that banana tart at home (emphasis on "trying").  The recipe is printed in the restaurant's cookbook but it's not exactly the same and I, honestly, had trouble understanding the directions.
Enter this banana tarte tatin.  I found this recipe hard to resist...you only need 4 ingredients (store-bought puff pastry shaves a lot of the work), it's simple, and you can easily scale the recipe to make as few or as many as you want.  Too good to be true?  Maybe so in this case because it did not work out - visually, at least - as well as I hoped.  I'm sure my own shortcomings had something to do with it but without actually making caramel first, the filling or sauce just didn't turn out dark and caramelized like I hoped, and I think visual appeal is important since we eat with our eyes first.  I actually ended up sprinkling some extra brown sugar on top of the baked tart after turning it out, and popping it under the broiler a couple of minutes to get some color on it!  

...So forgive me if today's post isn't the story of an amazing recipe I discovered but more of an ode to food memories and great dads like my husband...
The saving grace, though, is that this banana tarte tatin actually tasted far better than it looked out of the oven.  We are talking puff pastry, sugar, butter, and ripe bananas (not to mention ice cream), after all.  In general though, one of the best things about cooking/baking for my husband is the encouragement and appreciation I get regardless of the outcome.  Nothing has to be remotely perfect and he's always so enthused and complementary about  my cooking that I actually believe him most of the time.  But all joking aside, I  taste-tested this myself too.  My husband said it tasted "just like" USC's banana tart.  Now that is a stretch but I appreciated it.
I hope you have a great weekend.  It's been wet and dreary here so I'm looking forward to some sunshine.  Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful dads out there!  To my husband, thank you for being such an awesome dad - the little guy is one lucky fella!!


Just a few notes... 

You really can't beat this recipe in terms of convenience.  All you need are 1) puff pastry, 2) ripe bananas, 3) butter, and 4) brown sugar.  I'll add number 5: ice cream! It just wouldn't be right to serve it without a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

A tarte tatin is just an upside down tart.  Typically, I think of apple tarte tatin but this appealed to me as a shortcut way of getting the flavors of that Union Square Cafe banana tart that my husband loved so much.  I made just one small tarte tatin for my husband but this recipe is easily adaptable to making as many as you need.  I used a creme brulee dish but I'm sure you can make a larger tarte tatin in a bigger pie dish or a skillet. 

I used a plate slightly larger than my creme brulee dish to cut out a round of defrosted puff pastry.
Layer some butter and brown sugar on the bottom of the dish before stacking the pieces of banana on top of it.  Here's where I messed with the recipe a bit.  Instead of a tablespoon of butter, I used about half that.  It also calls for 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and I used a little less.  Those adjustments might not have helped my problem of not getting enough caramelization but having done this now, I really think it would be hard to achieve that thick golden caramel we associate with tarte tatin without actually making the caramel first!  
Layer banana slices over the butter and sugar.  In retrospect, I think it might have made more sense to mostly lay the slices flat instead of in a concentric circle since it gets flipped over but I haven't quite figured it out in my head still!  The puff pastry round comes next.  Lay it on top of the bananas and tuck the pastry into the sides of the dish.  I didn't do a very good job tucking in a couple of the areas and I'm sure that didn't help my end result. Patience and taking my time is not my thing (that's my husband).
Place the dish in a baking sheet lined with foil.  The filling will bubble and ooze out so use foil for easy clean up.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  The puff pastry browns and puffs, and the filling bubbles over.  Let cool a couple minutes before turning it out onto a plate - upside down so that the puff pastry sits on the bottom and the bananas are on top.
Is this too much detail or what?!  : )
In the interest of full disclosure (and hilarity), I thought I'd show you how mine really looked right out of the oven after I turned it out...it is pale!  The brown "caramel" was all over my foil with nothing left on the bananas themselves!
To make it a little more presentable, I sprinkled a bit of brown sugar over the top and placed the tart under the broiler a few minutes.  I wish I had a small blow torch but that's one reason I've yet to make creme brulee at home (but at least I had a chance to finally use one of the dishes to make this in)!
Well, a little browning and a big scoop of ice cream makes things a little better but the next time another banana tarte tatin gets made in this kitchen, it will very likely begin with cooking some caramel in a skillet first to get at the real McCoy!

My husband cleaned his plate.  He's not only a patient, present and loving Dad but a supportive cheerleader to this amateur home-baker! : )  

Update: I managed to get the skirt steak with chimchurri on the table for Father's Day brunch!  


Recipe:

If you'd like to tackle this recipe, you can find the Banana Tarte Tatin recipe over at Epicurious.





18 comments:

  1. What a great post Monica!
    I couldn't agree with you more that what drives us to make food is the encouragement and appreciation we get from our loved ones who get to enjoy the food. Your hubby sounds like such a fantastic and sweet guy and father :)
    I think sometimes we are harder on ourselves and I honestly think your tarte tatine looks perfect and delicious! I love that it requires only a few ingredients for a fast and easier treat. Have a wonderful Father's Day celebration this weekend!

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    1. Thanks for all your kind words, Kelly! My husband is definitely the cool, laid back one of the two of us. He has way more patience than I do and he's the best taste-tester! : )

      I used to be bummed if a recipe didn't work out so I did something "off" but luckily, I'm way more chill about it now. I think it comes from getting older (thank goodness there's some benefit to aging!).
      Have a great Father's Day weekend!

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  2. I'm always looking for new banana recipes and this sounds perfect and delicious! Your hubby is a lucky guy, I wish someone would make me eggs and skirt steak with chimichurri. Have a wonderful weekend Monica! :)

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    1. It's my first time making chimiichurri...I'm just going to wing it. And I'm always have trouble getting a good sear on my steak when I cook it on the stove-top so wish me luck, Anne. But luckily, no matter how it turns out, I'm sure my hubby will love it. : )

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  3. Happy Father's Day to your husband! I think this looks GREAT and I love how simple it is. Have a fabulous weekend!!

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    1. Thank you, Marie. Enjoy the weekend!

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  4. What a lovely post! The banana tatin looks so delectable.

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    1. Thanks - it was worth the try since it didn't take all that much effort beyond running to the store for some puff pastry.

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  5. Oh Monica, this banana tarte tatin sounds AND looks sooo delicious! Your photos are fine, and honestly the descriptive post had me totally convinced anyway. I love the simplicity of the recipe and I wish I saw this earlier so that I could make this for Father's Day! No matter, I will try to find a reason to make this on another day! (: Have a wonderful Father's Day with your husband!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Monica. I gotta tell you - I do not enjoy taking pictures. It's not my thing. I like the cooking/baking and eating/sharing part. : )

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  6. monica, that looks beautiful: i don't care what you say! :) i've never made a banana tart tatin, and i think my own husband would adore it. he loves banana things (bread, muffins, banana cream pie, etc). I would completely eat that too, so who am i kidding. That's a nice save by throwing it in the broiler; good tip!
    your father's day brunch sounds AMAZING. we, like you, are running around like chickens with our heads cut off right now (every year!), so i had no time to really do much here, although we did go several places this past weekend for family. that counts, right? :)

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    1. Thank you for the support, Shannon. : ) An easy recipe is always worth a try in my book since you never know... My husband is the one who's always been crazy about banana desserts and I've totally joined him in that regard now. We love banana bread, cookies, and muffins. I have very little experience in pie making but banana cream pie sounds great!
      And going places totally counts as far as father day or any day celebrations. "Running around like chickens with our heads cut off" precisely describes the last few weeks. I think I can finally take a breather...before school finishes around noon on Friday!

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  7. When I made apple tarte tatin, it usually involves cooking over the stove first, which gives the caramelization. I wonder if you could modify this and cook it in an oven-safe skillet like I do for that?

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    1. Yes, I absolutely think the way to go is to cook some caramel in a skillet and then continue. But the thought of simply doing it this way, according to the recipe, was too enticing not to try. : )

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  8. I'm going to grab puff pastry tomorrow and make this! Wahhh so easy and I love that banana is in there - perfect with vanilla ice cream. :)

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    1. haha - thanks, Nami. Anything will ice cream is good.

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