Sweet Plantain Tart

Now here's something you won't see every day in baking sites: a combination of French and Caribbean ingredients to make a truly unique dessert. This tart starts with a sweet short paste, which is then filled to include pastry cream mixed with hazelnut pralin, and topped with fried sweet plantain. The end result is rich and satisfying. 

The components come from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume 1" and are also available in the Techniques section of this site. Here is a rundown of the recipe.

Making the Sweet Pastry Shell


  • 2 cup2 all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons chilled butter
  • 3 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening 
  • 3 tablespoons cold water


  • 10-inch tart shell with removable bottom (preferred)
  • Pastry blender
  • Rolling pin
  • Wax and parchment paper
  • Pie weights: I use (and reuse) beans
MEP Sweet Plantain Tart

In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold butter and vegetable shortening and mix it in with the pastry blender. Mix it until it resembles a pile of flakes. 


Add a bit of the water and incorporate with one of your hands. Take care that you only use your fingers, and not the palm, since you want to make sure that you do not transmit too much heat onto the mixture. You will end up with a smooth ball of dough. Place the dough in a counter with a couple of tablespoons of flour.

Moistened dough

The next step is called the fraisage. It consists of using the heel of your hand to push through some of the flour on the surface, and ensure an even mixture of all the components. Once again, only use the heel of your hand so that you do not warm the mixture too much. Below is a picture of what this operation looks like. 


Grab a couple of sheets of wax or parchment paper and your rolling pin, and make a circle with the dough. Since the dough will get sticky at this point, I roll it between the sheets to make sure I get the proper circle. It should be an inch or two larger in diameter than that of your tart pan.

Rolled out dough

Place the dough in the refrigerator for an hour. Butter your tart pan, and place the rolled out dough inside the pan, moulding it with your fingers to make sure that it reached all the edges. Using the rolling pin, cut off the extra dough that falls off the sides. You should chill it for another 30 minutes in the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap, before baking it.

Dough in pan

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Take the pan out of the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap. Place a sheet of parchment paper over it and fill with the weights (I use beans). Make sure that the weights cover all the edges of the pan. 

Dough with pie weights

Place the pan over a baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges start to colour. Remove from the oven, carefully take off the parchment paper with the weights (they will be very hot). Take a form and pierce the bottom and sides of the pastry shell (don't be shy, just go for it) and place back in the oven. 

For a fully cooked shell bake for 7 to 10 minutes more, or until it develops a light golden brown colour. Your recipe will call for this in most recipes where no further baking is needed.

Fully baked shell

Notice not only the colour, but how the sides start to shrink from the pan. Also, there will be some bubbling of the bottom. This is normal and will subside as it cools. 

Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool completely. When using a pan with a removable bottom, the sides should slide off easily, and you can use a thin spatula to remove the bottom. It is much easier to remove it once it has completely cooled, since the shell with slightly contract.

Making the Pastry Cream


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups boiling milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Flavourings: 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 tablespoons rum
MEP Pastry Cream

Gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks until the mixture forms the ribbon. It will turn pale yellow.


Beat in the sifted flour (it will become grainy) and then beat in the milk in a stream of droplets. Place over the stovetop over medium-high heat. The mixture will become frothy.

Pastry cream heating up

Beat reaching all the way to the bottom as it boils. When it starts to boil, reduce heat to low-medium and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes so that the flour cooks. Be careful not to burn the bottom of the pan, so keep on reaching all over as you stir. Smooth out any lumps by stirring.

Pastry cream

Remove from heat and beat in the butter and flavourings. Let the cream cool down for a while and you're ready to use it. 

Making the Hazelnut Pralin


  • 325 grams hazelnuts
  • 75 grams confectioner's sugar


  • A sturdy cooking pan or dutch oven
  • A silicon spatula
  • Some parchment paper
  • A mortar, food processor, mallet or blunt object to crush the pralin
MEP Hazelnut Pralin

Place the pan over medium-high heat, put the nuts and the sugar in the pan and with a silicone spatula, move them to coat with sugar. The heat will toast the nuts in the pan and the sugar will start to caramelize. When they turn from white to a nice caramel colour, remove from heat and place over parchment paper to cool.

Caramelized hazelnuts

Once they have cooled down, you can crush them. I use a mortar, but a food processor, the bottom of your pan, or any other blunt object will do. 

Crushed pralin

Since the pralin will go into the cream, you crush it into relatively small sized bits. 

Frying Bananas!


  • 2 very ripe (blackened) plantains
  • Cooking oil (I used vegetable oil to avoid strong flavours)

The image above shows the peeled and unpeeled (bottom) plantain. Notice how the peeled one is a deep yellow colour. You need them to be very ripe so that they'll be sweet when you fry them. Slice the bananas across, in an angle, as shown below. 

Sliced bananas

Place oil in a frying pan to cover bottom, and heat until it becomes shimmery and before it smokes. Place a layer of bananas on one side and fry for around 3 minutes, or until you see that the side on the oil has caramelized. Turn on the other side and continue frying for another 2-3 minutes or until the other side reaches the same caramel colour. Remove from heat and place on a dish with paper towels to soak the excess oil 

Caramelized plantains cooking on the other side

Repeat with the remaining plantains. 

Assembling the Tart

Finally, we get to where we want to be: the final assembly. Mix the pastry cream and crushed hazelnut pralin and pour over the cooled pastry shell. 

Pastry shell with pastry cream and hazelnuts

Take the fried sweet plantain and place over the pastry cream in a nice pattern. 

Plantain over pastry cream

If you have whipping cream, or in my case, I had Italian meringue from a leftover recipe, you can decorate the tart a bit more.

Sweet plantain tart

And there you have it! Enjoy this creation while it's still warm.