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No-bake banana, chocolate, date and hazelnut tart

This recipe is up by popular demand.

An off-the-cuff, whimsical kitchen creation that was such a success I had to make it twice in one week. Daily guinea pig DS has even hailed it my finest creation to date. At least in the dessert arena.

Its first outing was for a friendly dinner party for five, where CM said it was delicious so many times that even I was embarrassed. The next day we had nine people over for an impromptu apéro-dîner (a french soirée where everybody brings a dish to share), when I decided to whip it out again as I needed something QUICK to put together. And I have difficulty trusting others to provide dessert.

Look, I love BUTTER. Some of my earliest kitchen memories are of mama and her Kenwood beater, creaming butter and sugar for the weekly home baked cake. Living in Paris today, I can’t see myself giving up the occasional and succulent tart tatin or creamy-squelchy chocolate eclair. And let’s not forget CROISSANTS. Buttery, buttery goodness.

For me (for time being at least), everything-free desserts can’t replace the classics. But they can provide an alternative from time to time and inspire some extra creativity in the kitchen. In general, I’ve been cutting down on how much dairy we buy, as part of a move* towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. Also, this month in particular, my quest to create (relatively) guilt-free treats has been motivated by my and DS’ continuing post-holiday detox.

This tart is chocolate RICH, which is one of the reasons it feels like a genuine treat. Making ganache with coconut milk was a complete experiment for me, and I have to admit I couldn’t taste the difference. The crust is crumbly rather than crunchy, but the texture compliments the soft bananas and the firm, chilled ganache. Try it.

*My computer tried to autocorrect this to mooed, which I enjoyed.

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Et en français...

No-bake banana, chocolate, date and hazelnut tart

Serves 8 - 12, takes 15 minutes

dessert / gluten free / dairy free / perennial / party / ready in a jiffy / easy peasy / quietly smug / detox / date night / brunch

* Dates - 1 cup, pitted

* Ground hazelnuts (or almonds) - 1 cup

* Cocoa powder - 1 heaped tsp

* Salt - two pinches

* Dark chocolate - 200g

* Coconut milk - 120ml (nut milks would also work)

* Cardamom (optional) - a pinch

* Bananas - 3

* Roasted hazelnuts - a handful, chopped

1 springform cake tin, 25cm diameter

Line the base of your cake tin with a circle of greaseproof paper.

In a blender, pulse the dates, powdered hazelnuts, cocoa and a pinch of salt together until you have an even crumb. Don't over blend. Sprinkle the mixture evenly into the base of the tin, then press it down firmly with your fingers to create a crust. You should have enough to make a thin, even layer.

Thinly slice the bananas and lay the slices in a single layer on top of the date and hazelnut mixture.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat up the coconut milk in a small pan until nearly simmering.

Gradually add the coconut milk to the melted chocolate, stirring continuously. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth and silky. Add a pinch of salt and the cardamom, if using, and stir to combine.

Pour the ganache over the top of the bananas and use a spatula to spread it carefully into an even layer. There should be just enough to just cover all of the fruit.

Finally, sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts on top.

Place the cake in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

When you're ready to serve, use a knife to separate the ganache from the side of the tin before you remove the springform. Serve chilled.

I've put this down as a possible date (as in dinner for two) dessert. Simply use a quarter of the quantities and make two mini tarts.

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@2016 by Lucy Rose Page