Italians do a lot of things better than other cultures. They make excellent coffee, their house wine is better than many pricey bottles you could find in the states, and I promise, the way they dress will make you feel like a slob on your best day.
They also invented Nutella, capping off the "better-than-you" list for the day. Sweet, chocolatey Nutella — making it acceptable to basically eat spoonfuls of frosting for breakfast since 1964.
I don't often buy Nutella in the states — I find it's pretty cost prohibitive and I'm happy to stick to eating spoonfuls of creamy peanut butter, anyway. But when I came across a jar of the hazelnut spread in the grocery store the other day that was 825 g for €5, I was sold and that big glass jar of heaven was coming home with me.
I knew immediately that I wanted to make a hazelnut tart. They sell them in lots of bakeries and coffee shops here in Italy, usually tarlet sized. And combined with my go-to shot of espresso, the sugar-laden treat definitely gets me revved up for the day. However, I wanted to put a little spin on it, with bananas and sea salt — two flavors I thought went hand in hand with the hazelnut spread. The result was heavenly, with a perfect crust, complementary flavors and a second helping. (You may have spotted this pie in the adorable pro-gluttony Friendsgiving pie boxes Theresa designed!)
for the crust
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3-5 T water
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, very cold, cut into squares
- pie weights or dried beans
for the filling
- 2 bananas
- 2 T cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups nutella
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Course sea salt or sea salt flakes
- For crust, preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine yolk, vanilla and 3 T of water in a small bowl, breaking yolk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, blend in the butter, breaking it up with the flour until the mixture looks like peas. Add egg mixture and stir to incorporate. Add remaining water if dough is too dry and is not mixing properly. If you want to make the dough ahead, it can be frozen for up to one month.
- Grease a tart pan or pie plate. Spread dough, covering the bottom of the pan and pushing the dough up the sides with your fingertips (you may have excess dough, depending on the size and depth of your pan). Line the top of the dough with aluminum foil and spread the pie weights or dried beans on top of the foil. This keeps the tart crust from bubbling up.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool and remove pie weights and foil. Turn oven off.
- Once the crust has cooled, chop up your bananas into slices. Line the bottom of the tart crust with half of the bananas.
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 1/4 of the cream. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, combine the remaining cream, Nutella and vanilla and stir over medium heat. Add in the cornstarch mixture and stir the filling often to avoid burning it on the bottom of the saucepan. Heat until the filling comes to a boil, and then continue heating for two minutes, continuously stirring to thicken.
- Pour half of the filling into the crust over the bananas. Add the remaining bananas evenly across the pie, and then top that with the remaining filling.
- Place pie in the refrigerator for one hour, until the pie sets. Once ready to serve, garnish with sea salt (do not do before serving, as the pie will absorb the salt and it will taste too salty).
Photos and text © Katie Currid 2014