Thursday, August 30, 2012

Melon with Lime, Feta and Mint

Jay and I just spent a glorious week in Nantucket. The best souvenir that we brought back was our newly-kindled love of the Dark and Stormy – Bermuda's signature cocktail comprised of dark rum, spicy ginger beer and a squeeze of lime.

The second best was the inspiration for this salad, which we sampled at a beach party. Feta and melon sound like two things that should not go together, and yet they work shockingly well. I went back for thirds.

When we received a melon in our box this week, I put off using it, as melons are not my favorite fruit, to say the least. First of all, you can't bake with a melon. (Ditto for kiwi, and upside-down cake is, in my opinion, the pineapple's only saving grace.) A ripe melon at the peak of its season smells intoxicating, but I'm always disappointed when I cut into one and take a bite. Melons are low in acid, which makes even the ripest specimen seem bland, and their texture is at best insipid, and at worst mealy.

After a week had passed and I had failed to get rid of said melon at either of the family brunches I attended over the weekend, I knew it was now or never. So I took a stab at the melon salad.

And it was the most I've ever enjoyed a melon.

The onion lends crunch and savory spice. French sheep's milk feta adds tang and creamy texture, and slivers of herbaceous mint bring cool freshness. Lime juice, olive oil, black pepper and flaky salt all perk up the chunks of juicy melon, letting its laid-back sweetness emerge as the star of the show. This salad screams "summer," and makes the most perfectly refreshing meal on a day when you're both ravenous and too hot to cook. It manages to feel both light and satisfying.

The melon from our box looked like a cantaloupe on the outside, but the flesh was green rather than orange. Use any melon you like here, including watermelon. The recipe below is loosey-goosey – add the components according to your taste.

And do yourself a favor – mix up a Dark and Stormy while you're at it.

Summery Salads:
Two-bean Potato Salad
Creamy Sesame Soba Noodles
Quinoa with Roasted Corn, Zucchini and Mint

One year ago:
Lemon Verbena and Red Berry Shakes
Two years ago:
Fresh Fig and Ginger Scones

Melon with Lime, Feta and Mint

This salad makes a light lunch or unique starter for a late-summer meal. Measurements are loose – add the components according to your taste. Use any melon you like here, including watermelon (ours was a green-fleshed sort of cantaloupe), but be sure to choose one that is fragrant and feels heavy for its size. With few ingredients in this salad, make sure that each is of top-notch quality: fresh, sweet onion, super-good olive oil, flaky salt such as Malden, and a moist feta that comes in large chunks. French sheep's milk feta is milder than other varieties and recommended as it won't overwhelm the dish. With the exception of watermelon, refrigeration does not flatter melons' texture, so plan to serve this soon after making it. 

Makes 6 first-course servings, or 2 main-dish servings for hungry people

1 medium melon (or 1 small watermelon), a bit smaller than your head
1/4 small red onion, sliced very thinly
8-12 large mint leaves, slivered, plus some small ones for garnish
juice of 1 large or 2 small limes, to taste
1 tablespoon super-good olive oil
flaky salt (such as Malden) and black pepper
3/4 cup feta cheese, preferably French sheep's milk, in large crumbles

Cut the melon in half from the stem end and scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice each half lengthwise into eighths. Use a paring knife to slice the flesh from the skin, and cut the slices into bite-sized chunks. In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and mint, tossing gently to combine. Drizzle over the olive oil, lime juice, flaky salt and pepper, toss to combine, and taste for balance and seasoning. Scatter the feta over the top, and serve immediately, garnished with small mint leaves.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two-Bean Potato Salad

I'm lead to believe that many people out there fear mayonnaise, particularly when it comes to potato salads. I suspect that mayophobia may be cured by making ones' own mayonnaise, which, when done correctly, is both a delicious and magical experience that may very well turn you from mayophobe to mayophile.

But if you still suffer from mayophobia, never fear: excellent potato salad can be made sans mayo, as has been proven for many years by Jay's mom. When we visit her home in the Santa Cruz countryside, there is inevitably a bowl of vinaigrette-dressed potato salad chilling in the fridge next to several bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, a bundle of Corralitos cheezy jalapeno sausages, a massive cheese plate, and an assortment of delectably pickled things. Indeed, we don't just go there for the rhubarb.

Today's recipe was inspired by Mary's iconic potato salad, and by the Country Potato Salad in a favorite cookbook called Once Upon a Tart. It is the antithesis of the homogeneous, white, gloopy stuff you usually find in a supermarket deli. Its bright colors and large shapes make it appropriate for a one-dish meal, or a quick snack to eat straight from the fridge on a warm day. A red wine vinaigrette, capers, and quick-pickled onions flavor the fresh beans, creamy new potatoes and crunchy green beans.

If you're unfamiliar with shelling beans, I recommend giving them a try. Fresh beans are lighter and brighter in flavor than their dried counterparts, and they take half the time cook. They taste less "beany," and are less inclined to, shall we say, negatively affect your digestion. Which is a good thing, because once cooked in lightly salted water, I couldn't stop eating these, and was hard pressed to leave enough for the salad.

Shelling beans can be found at farmers markets from late summer through early fall, though I picked up these pretty cranberry beans from my local co-op, Rainbow Grocery, in San Francisco.

Many thanks to my über-talented friend, Amelia, who made the beautiful bowls pictured here. We adore them!

One potato, two:
Green Goddess Potato Salad
Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potato Salad
Green Garlic and Chive Potato Cakes

One year ago:
Quick Cucumber Onion Pickles
Two years ago:
Banana Rum Upside-Down Cakelets

Two-Bean Potato Salad

You can use any fresh bean here; cranberry beans and garbonzos are the ones I see most often. Look for them at a farmer's market or well-stocked hippy co-op. Lacking shelling beans, use 1 cup of dried beans of your choice, (which will take longer to cook).

Makes about 6 servings

1 small red spring onion (or 1/2 a small cured red onion), thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds new crop potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1" cubes
3/4 pound green beans
1 1/4 pounds shelling beans (such as cranberry beans), shelled (2 cups shelled beans)
3 tablespoons capers
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small, non-reactive (i.e., stainless steel or ceramic) bowl, stir together the sliced onion, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside, agitating occasionally to dissolve the salt, as you prepare the rest of the salad.

Place the prepared potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 1 inch of cool tap water. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt, and place over high heat. Bring just to a simmer, and lower the heat to maintain a simmer (boiling the potatoes will jostle them around and knock their skins loose). Simmer the potatoes until tender, but not falling apart, about 10 minutes, then drain and let them cool.

Meanwhile, bring a second large saucepan of water to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Fill a large bowl with ice and cool water. Cut the tips off of the green beans, and cut the beans on the diagonal into 2" lengths. Drop the prepared green beans into the boiling water, and blanch until bright green and crisp-tender, 30-60 seconds. Scoop the beans out with a slotted spoon, reserving the hot water, and place the beans in the ice bath until cold. Drain well.

Return the green bean water to a boil, and add the shelling beans. Simmer the beans until tender, but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a very large bowl, combine the potatoes, green beans, shell beans, the red onion-vinegar mixture, capers, and parsley. Drizzle with the olive oil, and toss gently to coat. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or vinegar as needed.

Eat warm, chilled, or at room temperature. The salad is best the day it is made, but will keep for up to a few days in the fridge.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cherry Marzipan Scones

I inherited a rather large quantity of almond paste last week and, inspired by some late-season cherries, baked some of it into a batch of these dainty scones.

All scones are classy because they're British, and these tidy squares feel even more so, with a pretty finish of sliced almonds and a flavor reminiscent of petit four cakes. They make me want to sip darjeeling in the drawing room with Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

(Admittedly, it doesn't take a batch of scones to make me want that.)

In any case, these are more the sort of treat to be found on an afternoon tea platter of sweets rather than at the breakfast table (though certainly no one would object if they wound up there somehow). They inhabit the opposite end of the scone spectrum as blueberry buckwheat and Irish soda scones, which are a bit more hearty (though still classy, bien sûr).

These cake-like pillows, redolent with almond flavor, retain a bit of dense chewiness from the almond paste. Almond's perfume is perfectly pitched with the sweet cherries that get chopped and sandwiched between two layers of dough. When baked, they soften a bit, but retain their shape and jammy flavor, glistening like rubies as they peer out from the center of each scone. Sliced almonds on top toast in the heat of the oven, and, along with coarse sugar, add a bit of crunch. When served warm and topped with a spot of extra yogurt, they remind me of strawberry shortcake.

These scones are gently sweetened, and the dough is moistened with Greek yogurt. I used low-fat, and the scones stayed plenty rich from the almond paste. The dough comes together quickly in the food processor, and the almond paste makes the dough supple beneath one's fingers, and a pleasure to work with.

To be clear, marzipan is almond paste's sweeter relative, and is mostly used for modeling into tiny replicas of fruit or wrapping cakes a là fondant. But the term "paste" is rarely an appealing way to title a recipe, so please forgive this inconsistency.

In place of cherries, you could use any sturdy stone fruit, such as chopped peaches or apricots. Raspberries or blackberries would be tasty, too.

~ Thanks to my talented sister-in-law Sheila Metcalf-Tobin, whose exquisite line drawings are featured on the placemats above and down below. They can be purchased here. ~

Cheering for cherries:
Cherry-Apricot Fold-over Pie
Cherry Frangipane Tart
Apricot Cherry Clafoutis

Scores of scones:
Fig and Ginger Scones
Poppy Seed and Lemon Curd Mega Scone
Banana Brown Sugar Pecan Scones

One year ago:
Berry Peach Oven Pancake
Two years ago:
Crispy Sesame Kale Chips

Cherry Marzipan Scones

I used low-fat greek yogurt here, but any fat content will likely work just fine. Have some extra yogurt on hand for eating with the scones. Tea is the ideal accompaniment, but I won't tell if you have a Sweet Cherry Manhattan instead. These scones tend to darken excessively on their bottoms; to avoid this, double-pan them by stacking two rimmed baking sheets, and bake the scones on an upper rack in the oven. Since ovens often vary in temperature, I highly recommend using an oven thermometer, especially for high-temperature recipes like this one.

Makes 12 dainty scones

For the scones:
1/2 cup (4 3/4 ounces) fresh, moist almond paste, crumbled
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, in 1/2" cubes

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons greek yogurt (I used low-fat), plus extra for serving
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherries, stemmed, pitted and quartered (to equal 1 cup)

For the top:
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
a small handful of sliced almonds (preferably unblanched)
1 tablespoon coarse sugar

In the body of a food processor, combine the almond paste, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse to combine and break up the almond paste. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles gravel, with a few pea-sized butter chunks throughout. Dollop the yogurt over the top, sprinkle with the almond extract, and pulse until the mixture begins to form large clumps and looks somewhat homogeneous.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top lightly with flour, and roll into a 12 by 8" rectangle, turning and flipping the dough, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Lay the prepared cherries over half the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the cherries, and press down gently but firmly (this will help the cherries stay in place when you slice and move the scones). Freeze the mega-scone until fairly firm, but not frozen, 20 minutes.

Position a rack in the upper center of the oven and preheat to 425ºF. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, and stack it on top of a second heavy baking sheet.

Use a sharp chef's knife to trim away the outer 1/4" from each side of the scone, then cut into 12 squares. Brush the tops with cream, sprinkle with the almonds, pressing them lightly into the scones, then sprinkle with the coarse sugar.

Carefully transfer the scones to the parchmented sheet pan, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake the scones until they are golden brown on top, 18-20 minutes.

Let the scones cool to warm. They are best served shortly after baking (with more greek yogurt!) but will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature. Reheat in an oven or toaster oven for best results.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Plum, Rhubarb, and Raspberry Cardamom Crisp

Whatever you title it – crisp, crumble or crunch – soft, warm fruit topped with streusel and ice cream equals heaven in my book. And this version, to me, is crisp nirvana.

I've been curious to bake something with plums, rhubarb and raspberries since Fall of last year after seeing recipes for rhubarb-plum, raspberry-plum, and raspberry-rhubarb desserts. I'm always looking for new ways to use rhubarb, and I imagined that the triumvirate could be nothing less than holy. All three "fruits" have sweet, tart, and floral flavor profiles and rosy color schemes. Plums fruit along the California coast while rhubarb and raspberries continue to carry on. As the saying goes, "what grows together goes together."

Inspired by a(nother) recipe on Leite's Culinaria, I turned the threesome into my favorite fruit dessert of all. This recipe looked like the crisp of crisps, with an ideal fruit-to-pastry ratio and large pebbles of golden-brown topping.

Quick-cooking oats, which are smaller, thinner and flakier than their old-fashioned-rolled cousins, seem to be the magic ingredient here. The topping bakes into tender nubs of sablé-like bliss that first crunch and then melt in the mouth. Whereas this crumble topping, which contains egg and baking powder, has a cookie-like chewiness, the topping here is more delicate and sandy. Its only caveat is that it reaches its peak shortly after leaving the oven, when the components have cooled and settled a bit so that you can really taste the flavors. After several hours, the streusel begins to absorb moisture from the fruit, softening where the two come into contact. The aforementioned crumble is sturdier and keeps well for several days, whereas this crisp is best within an hour of baking. (Though that hasn't stopped us from reheating leftovers at all hours of the day and night.)

Aside from a stellar fruit trio, a couple of other ingredients make this crisp sparkle: a generous splash of ruby port in the fruit deepens the flavor and color, and freshly ground cardamom in the topping adds its intoxicating spice. The play of musky cardamom against bright fruit is sublime, and it carries this summery dessert into the cooler days of Fall. (Oh, no, I said the F word!)

I want to make this crisp for everyone I know; I suspect it will be my go-to formula for a while. I imagine any other summer fruit could be swapped in or out of the holy triumvirate: apricots, figs, cherries, peaches and all berries (including huckles) play well with cardamom. Other types of liquor could be good in place of the port, like bourbon with peaches, kirsh with cherries, or brandy with apricots.

And don't forget the scoop of ice cream on top; crisp doesn't reach its full potential until the crunchy topping and gooey fruit meet melting ice cream. (Though my favorite dessert makes a decadent breakfast, too, topped with a scoop of greek yogurt instead.)

Crisps and crumbles:
(Gluten-Free) Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
(Gluten-Free) Apple Crisple
Ginger Plum Crumble

One year ago:
Zucchini, Corn and Chèvre-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Two years ago:
Chocolate Rosemary Pots de Crème

Plum, Rhubarb, and Raspberry Cardamom Crisp

If you lack quick cooking oats, which are smaller and thinner than old-fashioned rolled oats, David Leite says you can whizz old-fashioned oats in a coffee grinder or food processor to break them up a bit. I haven't tried making this recipe gluten-free yet, but next time I plan to try using oat flour in place of the AP as per my gluten-free Apple Crisple and Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble. Serve bowls of warm crisp with a scoop of vanilla or honey yogurt ice cream. 

Makes about 8 servings

1/2 cup sugar (preferably organic turbinado)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
pinch salt
12 ounces trimmed rhubarb, sliced 1/4" thick (3 cups)
12 ounces plums (about 3 medium-large), halved, pitted, cut into 1" chunks (2 cups)
2 tablespoons ruby port
1 1/2 cups raspberries

(Adapted from Ian Knauer's The Farm via Leite's Culinaria)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (see headnote)
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened slightly

ice cream, for serving (see headnote)

Prepare stuff:
Position a rack in the upper-middle of the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Place a 10" ceramic tart pan (or a 9 or 10" deep dish pie pan or the equivalent) on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper to catch drips.

Make the filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the sliced rhubarb, plums and port, and toss to coat. Add the raspberries and fold gently to combine. Scrape the fruit into the baking dish in an even layer. Set aside while you...

Make the topping:
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cardamom and salt. Add the butter cubes and rub with your fingers until no butter chunks remain and the mixture begins to clump together. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, using your fingers to break and squish it into roughly almond-sized chunks. Don't pack the filling down.

Bake the crisp: until the juices are bubbling vigorously and overflowing a bit, and the topping is thoroughly golden and cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let the crisp cool and settle a bit, about 20 minutes, then spoon into bowls and top with scoops of ice cream (see headnote for suggestions).

The crisp is best the day it's made, when the topping is, well, crisp, but it will keep for up to a few days and can be reheated in an oven or toaster oven. Store extras in the fridge after 1 day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chocolate Bourbon Banana Cream Tart

The #1 thing that stops me from making banana cream pie is that I don't know when to make it. I tend to keep bananas around in the winter when there's a dearth of delectable fruit available. But a chilled cream pie isn't exactly what one craves on a cold winter's day or night.

Come spring and summer, the abundance of in-season-for-a-limited-time-only fruit, combined with beautiful days that ought to be spent outdoors rather than slaving away over a hot oven, curtails my cream pie-making. And fall, when it finally shows up mid-November, is usually one large, obsessive rush to capitalize on California's brief pumpkin dessert window.

The #2 thing that stops me from making banana cream pie as often as I wish is the matter of the crust. The typical vessels for cream pie consist of 1) a flaky pie dough or 2) a graham cracker crust. I love a flaky pie dough more than anything, but it really ought to be eaten at room temperature. When chilled, pie crust takes on a cardboardy texture that encourages sawing with serrated knives and gnawing with teeth. And of course, like revenge, cream pie is a dish best served cold.

A cookie crust, which, even when chilled, shatters under the pressure of a fork, is more desirable for a chilled pie. But I'm snobbish and stubborn and adverse to buying pre-made cookies when I could easily make them myself.

But! I'm lazy. So I don't. And I am therefor regularly deprived of cream pie.

When I inherited a bunch of ripe bananas the other day, I swore that I would finally make them into a cream pie. After much cider-fueled deliberation and recipe perusing (yes, folks, bojon is rough), I came to what seemed like a brilliant conclusion: a press-in tart crust. It's tender, it's simple, it doesn't require pie weights to keep it from slumping down the sides of the pan as it bakes. Best of all, it's good cold, with a crumbly, shortbread-like texture. Inspired by a David Leite recipe, I decided to go with a chocolate version, and swapped out some AP flour for dutch-processed cocoa powder.

When I tasted the dough, I nearly swooned with delight–it had the old-fashioned chocolate flavor of Oreos with a heady topnote of Tahitian vanilla extract, made by a friend, that I hoard for special occasions. I pressed it into an 8" tart pan, and topped the warm, baked crust with finely chopped chocolate. When melted, the chocolate spread into a thin layer which acts as a barrier to the pudding, keeping the crust crisp even days later.

Since I've been on a bourbon kick lately, I decided to booze up the custard filling. I adapted the recipe from my favorite butterscotch pudding, which only uses cornstarch as a thickener and no eggs. I decreased the sugar a tad to compensate for the sweetness of the bananas and the crust, and followed Cook's instructions to cool the cream to warm, then pour half of it in the shell, top with sliced bananas, then spread with the remaining pudding. A simple whipped cream, spiked with vanilla and a touch more bourbon tops the chilled pie, and a shower of shaved chocolate makes it pretty.

This tart is a grown-up version of the traditional, with hints of tartness and bitterness from the bourbon and chocolate contrasting the straightforward sweetness of banana. Judiciously sweetened, it does what any good cream pie ought and manages to be both light and rich at the same time. A slice leaves you satisfied but not adverse to having seconds. A tipple of bourbon-spiked coffee, hot or iced, would make an excellent accompaniment.

Maybe I'll conquer the coconut cream pie next; at least I know what crust to use..

Going bananas:
Gluten-Free Banana Buckwheat Pancakes
Banana Rum Upside-Down Cakelets
Double Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

One year ago:
Cherry Frangipane Tart
Two years ago:
Zucchini Tomato Tart

Chocolate Bourbon Banana Cream Tart

Dark or gold rum would be delicious substitutes for the bourbon here, though I do like the tart spiciness that the bourbon lends this pie. Lacking an 8" pan, you may be able to make this in a 9" pan, though you may want to increase the crust by 50% to make sure you have enough. Dutch-proccessed cocoa will give the crust the old-fashioned flavor of Oreos; look for cocoa that lists alkali as an ingredient. Guittard, Valrhona and Cacao Barry all make excellent dutch-processed cocoa. (I haven't tried making this crust with natural cocoa powder, so I'm not certain how it would turn out.) If you lack vanilla bean, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the custard along with the bourbon. Leave yourself 4 hours to complete this tart to allow for the necessary chilling, baking, and cooling; most of the time is inactive.

Makes one 8" pie, about 10 servings

Chocolate Press-in Crust:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, in 1/2" dice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Bourbon-Banana Filling:
5 tablespoons sugar (preferably organic turbinado)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, in a few pieces
2 tablespoons bourbon

2 large (or 3 smaller) ripe but firm bananas

Whipped Cream Topping:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

a small block of bittersweet chocolate for shavings

Make the crust:
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt. Add the butter, sprinkle over the vanilla, and rub with your fingertips until no large butter chunks remain and the mixture begins to clump together in a texture reminiscent of gravel. (If the mixture feels too soft or sticky, chill it for 5 or ten minutes, then proceed.) Dump the crumbs into an 8" tart pan with removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and bottom. Press it squarely into the sides as there is barely enough dough to fit. If the dough sticks to your fingers, dip your fingers in cocoa powder to remedy the situation.

Prick the bottom of the dough a few times with a fork, then freeze the crust until solid, 15-20 minutes while you preheat the oven.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.

Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet for easier maneuverability, and bake until puffed and firm, 18-20 minutes.

While the crust is still hot, sprinkle the bottom with the chopped chocolate. Let it sit a minute to melt, then use a small offset spatula, pastry brush, table knife, or your finger (careful - it's hot!) to spread the chocolate into a thin, even layer over the bottom and sides of the crust. Let cool until the chocolate is completely set (you can do this in the fridge if you like).

Make the custard filling:
In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla pod and seeds. Whisk in the half and half. Bring the mixture to a slow boil over medium-high heat, whisking the dickens out of it, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pans with the whisk. You'll have to stop whisking for a few seconds to verify that the pudding is boiling, which you'll know by the big bubbles that pop gloopily. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue cooking and whisking for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, then the bourbon. It should be the consistency of creamy yogurt.

Strain the pudding through a sieve and into a bowl. Press plastic wrap right on the surface of the pudding, and let cool at room temperature until warm, 30-45 minutes.

Assemble the tart:
When the pudding has cooled, spread half of it into the chocolate-lined shell. Slice the bananas evenly over the top, and cover with the remaining pudding. Cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface of the pudding. Chill until set, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Whip the cream with the powdered sugar until it billows softly. Add the vanilla and bourbon and continue whipping until it holds firm peaks. (If you take the cream too far, you can rescue it by folding in additional heavy cream until it loosens up again.)

Remove the plastic wrap from the tart, and spread the cream evenly over the top. Use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate over the top as though you were peeling potatoes.

Chill the pie for 30 more minutes to set the cream, if you have the patience. Remove the ring from the pan, place the tart on a cutting board, and use a sharp chef's knife to slice the pie into wedges, wiping the knife clean between each cut.

To store the pie, invert a large bowl over the top and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Variation: For Bourbon Banana Butterscotch Cream Pie, use dark brown sugar in the custard in place of the turbinado sugar.