Banana Tartes Tatin
I am writing this during a break between 90-minute sessions of Public Law, which runs for 6 hours a day. I’m running on five hours sleep (for a month running), 2 cappuccinos and the knowledge that this is the last day of summer school. Francesco has been staying home on the days I have class, and this trading off baby duty thing has been surprisingly refreshing for both of us. We meet for lunch, we all eat together; it’s really quite civilized. What’s not civilized is sleep deprivation.
Back when I was boasting about having won the “baby lottery,” how little 2-month-old Stella was sleeping for 5, 6, 7 (!!) hours at a time, how we just couldn’t understand why new parents complain, when I actually scoffed at some poor, dishevelled couple begging off dinner plans because baby had to be in bed at 8 pm…someone, somewhere was laughing. And taking aim.
And then…the arrow hit us and the 3 am feeds became 1:30, 3:30, 4:30, 5:45 and 6 am feeds. So many precious moments!!!! And so little sleep. So little energy for typing out recipes and stories, cooking dinner, eating food, dressing oneself, completing sentences.
Listening to my fellow law students complain about being “so tired” because “I went to bed at like 2” and “went so hard this weekend” has awoken in me a capacity for violence. Which is almost immediately extinguished by my complete inability to, um, do anything. Except scoff. Scoffing I can do.
Things were different not long ago, and I know things won’t be like this for long. So while we’re wrestling with 4-month-old Stella’s wakefulness and my inability to let her “cry it out,” I’ll be serving up some blasts from the not-so-distant past that, I hope, will be new to you.
Let me begin with these banana tartes tartin, a little recipe that I oft repeated back when we were sleeping we were staying with my parents in Boston. At the time, last year’s draughts in Queensland were still affecting the banana supply in Australia, meaning that bananas cost more per pound than steak. For us, then, Boston meant bananas. And bananas meant lots of banana bread and lots of banana tartes tartin.
There are few things better, I’m sure you’ll agree, than bananas cooked in brown sugar and butter. Except maybe bananas cooked in brown sugar and butter with a puff pastry crust. And ice cream. Yes. Usually tarte tartin means apple, or, if we’re being really exotic, pear. But banana loves banana upside down cake, so why not tatin it? (Wow. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. I think I’ll leave it to demonstrate the levels of sleeplessness I’m dealing with.)
This is a dessert that comes together in mere minutes, has FOUR ingredients, and requires no mixing, measuring or waiting. It can be assembled ahead of time and popped in the oven whenever you’re ready. It could even be made by someone like me (who tried to make the easiest dessert of all time yesterday, only to forget it was in the oven [yes, that does sound dangerous to me, too] while taking the dog for a walk). To get around the trickiness inherent in removing a large caramel-bottomed cake from a hot pan, these are little individual tarts: they’re easier to keep intact and less likely to give you third degree burns.
In short, it makes you feel like you’ve won the dessert lottery. Just don’t say it too loud. And definitely don’t scoff.
BANANA TARTES TARTIN
Recipe adapted from Epicurious. I think you could use about 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 banana per tartlette, but feel free to improvise. Makes 4 and can easily be doubled. I recommend Trader Joe’s all butter puff pastry. If I lived in TJ country, I’d have about 25 boxes of it in my freezer. For realz. Do you know how easy dinner can be if all you’ve got is a box of puff pastry and some cheese/some veggies/some anything?!? Sigh…a discussion for another day, I’m afraid. In the meantime, get yourself some Trader Joe’s puff pastry and make these tarts!
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bananas, sliced into thin discs
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed.