Claire Ptak bakes with the yel­low fruit

We can de­pend on ba­nanas to brighten up our bakes what­ever the time of year. Here they lend their sweet­ness to an in­dul­gent Amer­i­can-style bourbon, choco­late and cream tart­let and an ex­cep­tion­ally easy ice-cream

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Claire Ptak Claire Ptak is an au­thor and food stylist and owns Vi­o­let Bak­ery in Lon­don. She is the au­thor of the Vi­o­let Bak­ery Cook­book (Square Peg); @ vi­o­let­cakeslon­don

Isaw on In­sta­gram the other day that some peo­ple have started grow­ing ba­nanas in Cal­i­for­nia — an­other rea­son to be home­sick in Lon­don in Fe­bru­ary. While we can’t boast a lo­cal ba­nana crop here in the UK, we do have ac­cess to good ba­nanas all year-round, since they do not have a spe­cific grow­ing sea­son. At Vi­o­let, we are known for our ba­nana bread, but more can be done with the fruit of this gi­ant herb which, I was sur­prised to learn, is not a tree.

There is a fleet­ing sweet spot with ba­nana ripeness, so you have to be vig­i­lant with your fruit bowl. At that mo­ment, the green fades to yel­low. No longer as­trin­gent with starch­i­ness, the sug­ars de­velop and the fruit soft­ens. The per­fume is per­fect and no brown spots have formed yet. This is the mo­ment to use your ba­nanas in this week’s recipes.

Bourbon ba­nana cream tartlets Ba­nana cream pie, or this tart­let ver­sion, is the Amer­i­can dream dessert. The for­got­ten ba­nana that is so read­ily mashed into our favourite cakey bread is el­e­vated here to dizzy­ing new heights, sus­pended in clouds of boozy cream and cus­tard, be­com­ing rich and lux­u­ri­ous.

Makes 6 180g plain flour 2 tbsp caster sugar ¼ tsp salt 125g un­salted but­ter, cold and cubed 2 egg yolks 1 tbsp ice wa­ter 100g dark choco­late 3 medium ba­nanas (ripe, but not cov­ered in brown spots)

For the cus­tard 2 egg yolks 340ml whole milk 50g golden caster sugar 25g corn­flour ¼ tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla ex­tract

For the cream 300ml dou­ble cream 2 tsp bourbon ½ tsp vanilla ex­tract 1 tbsp golden caster sugar Co­coa pow­der, to serve

1 For the pas­try, add the flour, sugar and salt to a blender and blitz briefly to com­bine. Add the cold but­ter and blitz un­til the mix­ture re­sem­bles a coarse meal. Com­bine the yolks and wa­ter, then add all at once. Mix un­til it just comes to­gether (about 30 sec­onds or less). Wrap well in cling­film and chill for at least 30 min­utes, but soften slightly be­fore rolling.

2 But­ter the in­sides of 6 in­di­vid­ual pas­try rings or in­di­vid­ual tart shells. On a sur­face lightly dusted with flour, roll out the pas­try un­til about 3mm

thick. Cut cir­cles about 6cm larger in di­am­e­ter than your tart shells or rings. Press the pas­try cir­cles down into the rings and trim off any ex­cess. Freeze or chill them for 15 min­utes.

3 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. Line the chilled pas­tries with pieces of bak­ing pa­per. Fill with bak­ing beans and “blind bake” them for 20 min­utes. Re­move the parch­ment and bak­ing beans, then re­turn to the oven to bake a fur­ther 5-10 min­utes, or un­til golden. Set aside to cool.

4 On a very low heat, melt the choco­late in a heat­proof bowl over

sim­mer­ing wa­ter. Do not let the wa­ter boil rapidly, as this can cause it to burn. Stir the choco­late and pour it into the bot­tom of the baked pas­tries. Ro­tate the shells as you go, so that the choco­late coats the in­side in a nice, thin even layer. Put in the fridge to chill. This can be done the day be­fore.

Ar­range a fine sieve over a medi­um­size bowl. Whisk to­gether all of the cus­tard in­gre­di­ents thor­oughly in a medium heavy-bot­tomed saucepan. Put over a very low heat and whisk con­stantly for about 10-15 min­utes, or un­til the cus­tard thick­ens and coats the back of a spoon. When the cus­tard is ready, pour through the sieve and into the bowl. Give the cus­tard a stir to re­lease some steam, then press a piece of cling­film on to the top of the cus­tard so it does not form a skin. Chill for at least an hour. This can also be done the day be­fore.

To make the cream, put all the in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a bowl and whisk to soft, vo­lu­mi­nous peaks. Chill if you are not as­sem­bling right away. Just be­fore us­ing, stir the cream once or twice to check it has not sep­a­rated.

To assem­ble, re­move your choco­late- lined pas­try shells from the fridge. Slice the ba­nanas thinly on an an­gle. Line the bot­tom of the pas­tries with half the ba­nana slices and then pour the chilled cus­tard on top. Add the re­main­ing ba­nana slices.

Use a large metal spoon and take scoops of the whipped cream and blob them across the top of the tarts. Chill un­til ready to serve – or for at least 1 hour. Dust the tops with co­coa pow­der be­fore serv­ing.

Ba­nana ice-cream The foil to th­ese tartlets is ba­nana “ice­cream” made only with frozen blitzed ba­nanas and a lit­tle honey and salt. Fin­ished with the best olive oil you can af­ford, the sim­ple ba­nana be­comes some­thing else en­tirely. Hal­lelu­jah.

Serves 2-4 3 medium ba­nanas A pinch of fine sea salt 2 tbsp honey Ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, to fin­ish Flaky sea salt, to fin­ish

Slice the ba­nanas and freeze for at least 1 hour. Re­move and im­me­di­ately blitz in a pro­ces­sor un­til smooth. Add the salt and honey, and blitz to mix. De­cant the mix­ture into an air­tight con­tainer and freeze again for at least two hours.

Serve with a driz­zle of your best olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

he sweet spot with ba­nanas is fleet­ing, when the per­fume is per­fect and no brown spots have formed. This is the mo­ment for th­ese recipes

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