January 14, 2013

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Banana Cream Bites

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Banana Cream Bites



In my book, bakeries are either flaky or gooey. Flaky bakeries are European style with cases full of jewel-like pastries - glossy, symmetrical and perfect. Gooey bakeries have shelves of donuts and cinnamon rolls drooping with the weight of frosting or caramel, fluffy layer cakes and pies with filling bubbled over the edge. You can guess which I prefer. I think I may have found my ultimate gooey bakery but, sadly, it's in Seattle. Road trip! Someday, I hope. But for now I'll have to settle for the their cookbook, The Dahlia Bakery.

I purchased it after hearing Dahlia's founder, Tom Douglas, on NPR - now THAT'S what good PR will do for you. It's full of decadent and homey items from his Seattle bakery/cafe and this was the first recipe I had to try.

These are like tiny banana cream pies, which have a fond place in my memory being my brothers choice on his birthday. I was lemon meringue and my sister was chocolate silk or whatever looked fanciest at Poppin Fresh Pies (the precursor to Baker's Square and a much better name, in my opinion). I loved the combination of cool, creamy pudding and crispy pie crust. 

The best, the very best, part of this is the vanilla pastry cream (what I call "pudding"). It's incredible and worth every minute, penny and calorie. You'll need fresh vanilla from the pod (expensive but essential). If you like Breyer's Vanilla ice cream with the specks of vanilla, you will love this. It's kind of like that but much better. This recipe makes extra and it would be great with strawberries and whipped cream.

These will disappear quickly. People will snitch them when you're not looking, maybe from your very own plate. The crust is crunchy and cookieish and the chocolate, pastry cream, banana and whipped cream are superb together. Best of all they're not difficult to make, just a bit time consuming.






Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Banana Cream Bites
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery cookbook

Makes about 15 

First make the pastry cream: 

Vanilla Pastry Cream 

Makes about 1¼ cups

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean

Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Put empty pods in a saucepan with the milk and cream. Set scrapings/seeds aside. 

Whisk sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Add egg yolks and vanilla bean scrapings and whisk furiously until it is smooth and pale yellow.  

Bring the milk/cream mixture to a low boil (bubbling around the edges) and remove from the heat. Remove the pods and add a little to the sugar/egg mixture and whisk to temper the eggs, then slowly add the rest of the warm cream continuing to whisk until relatively smooth. 

Return mixture to stovetop and cook at a slow bubble, whisking constantly, until thick (like pudding). 

Immediately place in bowl of food processor, add butter and vanilla and pulse until melted, combined, smooth and glossy. Set over bowl of ice water until cool, place plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Next the crust:

Nut Crust

½ cup walnuts
1 ⅓ cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons butter
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. 
Dice butter and put in freezer. 
Grind walnuts in food processor, then add flour, brown sugar, salt and pulse until combined, scraping down sides and bottom if necessary. Add butter and pulse until the dough has pea size lumps. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and pulse. Take a pinch of dough. It should clump together. If it doesn't, add another few tablespoons of water and pulse again. 
Gather dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or two. Roll out on floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch rounds and place in mini-muffin tins, gently pushing into bottom and fluting the edges a bit with your fingers. Prick the bottom with the tines of a fork. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Almost there - the ganache!

Ganache*

¼ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
¼ cup chopped milk or semi-sweet chocolate
⅓ cup cream
Pinch of salt

Grate the chocolate (or use chips) and place in a heat-proof bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until bubbling around the edges. Pour on top of chocolate and let sit one minute. Stir until smooth. Let cool until thickened, but not hard. 

Whip the cream:

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Put the cold cream in a cold bowl with the sugar and whip just until it's smooth and holds a soft peak. Don't go past this point or it will get lumpy (but will taste fine). 

2 bananas

Slice the bananas

FINALLY - assemble these wonders!

1. Using a small spoon, put a layer of chocolate on the bottom of the tart shell
2. Add a slice of banana and squish it down a bit
3. Using a second small spoon, add a dollop of pastry cream
4. Top it with as much whipped cream as you like
5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.



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