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Banana and rosemary tarte tatin

Spending time with friends is something that I love to do.  And when they happen to be a fellow foodie it is an extra bonus for me because they tend to feel the same way I do when I talk about food and cooking.  I get so exhilarated, almost like a “kid in a candy store”.  My eyes get a little wider, I can’t wipe the smile off my face and when I speak the words tend to come out quicker than normal due to pure excitement.  All of this could potentially be a little off putting, however I am fortunate that my friends understand I am driven by passion. 🙂

My dear friend Julia came over last weekend to make tarte tatin.  We had been discussing the difficulties of making caramel and wanted to try and perfect it for this simply yet potentially challenging dessert.

Both Jules and I have electric cooktops which means that the heat is not as consistent as a gas or induction appliance.  While I am not one to blame my equipment, it does seem to be a common denominator for use both when it comes to caramel making failures.  Using an electric cooktop seems to bring about a significant challenge when trying to make caramel using sugar and butter, as the sugar tends to clump and burn rather than actually dissolve.  The only success I have ever had is to make caramel using sugar and water in the way described below.  And while not traditional it works for me.

Sometimes cooking has to be that way…..do what works for you!

banana and rosemary tarte tatin (original recipe by Nico Moretti “Food for Friends” adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought)   
makes one 20cm (8 inch) tart

Ingredients
120g (½ cup/4 ¼ ozs) caster sugar
60ml (¼ cup) water
30g (1 oz) unsalted butter, diced
2-3 large bananas, (not too ripe), sliced 
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves  
1 sheet of puff pastry
to serve
double cream or vanilla ice-cream

Preparation
Preheat fan-forced oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5).  Take a 20cm non-stick frying pan and invert it onto sheet of puff pastry.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan to create a circle the size of the top of the frying-pan (this should be bigger than the base).  Place the pastry into the fridge until required.

Place a medium size heavy based saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the sugar and water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.  Make sure you have a cup of recently boiled water and a pastry brush handy to wash down the sides of the pot, this will prevent crystals forming.  Continue to boil until it begins to colour.  Swirl the pan (do not stir) to ensure even cooking.  Continue to cook and swirl until dark amber in colour (this will take about 5 minutes), remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir to combine.  Once combined, immediately pour into frying pan (make sure the pan can also go into the oven).

Place banana slices in a single layer on top of caramel.  Lay the pastry on top of bananas.  It should hang over the edge.  Using the edge of a spoon, tuck in the extra pastry like you would tuck in a blanket.  This creates a seal around the bananas and caramel.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and carefully invert onto a serving plate or board.  Serve with cream or ice-cream.  

My tips/alterations:  *When making caramel be sure not to stir it once the sugar has dissolved as this can cause the sugar to crystallise.  The best method is to swirl the pan.  *It can be a good idea to have a sink filled with cold water, if you feel the caramel is getting too dark remove it from the heat and place the base of the pan into the water.  It will splutter a little but this will stop the cooking process almost instantly.  *Always ensure you wear protective clothing (long sleeves, apron, shoes, etc) when making caramel as it gets very hot and sticky and will burn very quickly.  If you do happen to splash some onto your skin run it under cold water immediately.  *When making a tarte tatin it is important to tuck the pastry in as this contains the caramel as the base (that becomes the top when turned out).  *We used an organic puff pastry that Jules found in the supermarket, no nasty additives and it definitely had the crunch factor.

ease: 7.5/10. Like anything, the more you make this the easier it gets.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 30mins

total:  40 mins

taste: 7.5/10 from the man of the house, 7/10 from Julia and 7.5/10 from me.  We tried this after we had taken these photos and we agreed it is best served immediately, with vanilla ice cream (which we didn’t have).  The flavours worked well together, the banana was soft and sweet from the caramel and the pastry crunchy.  All the things you want in a good tarte tatin. 

Jules also thought it would work well with the classic apple, pear and also mango. 

would I make it again: Maybe.  This is not a dessert I cook often, however the simplicity of it (and knowing that I can do the caramel) has suddenly made it more attractive.