Lots of room for customized options here, depending on whether you like whipped cream or meringue; see VARIATIONS below.
Make Ahead: The pastry dough needs to be refrigerated for 30 minutes before it is baked. The pie filling needs to be refrigerated for 1 to 2 hours.
Yield: Makes small pies (tart size)
- For the pastry
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, then frozen
- 4 to 5 teaspoons ice water, or more as needed
- For the filling
- 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the bananas
- 2 teaspoons flour
- Pinch salt
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 small banana
- For an optional meringue topping
- 1/4 cup marshmallow creme, such as Kraft Jet-Puffed
- 1 large egg white
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- For optional rum whipped cream
- 1/4 cup cold heavy whipped cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- 2 teaspoons rum
For the pastry: Have 2 large pieces of wax paper at hand.
Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor; pulse to blend the ingredients. Uncover and sprinkle the butter pieces evenly over the flour mixture. Cover and pulse, using on/off turns, about 15 times or until the lumps of butter reduce to the size of small peas. Uncover and sprinkle 4 teaspoons of ice water over the flour mixture. Cover and process just until small, moist clumps of dough begin to form, 6 to 10 seconds; add up to 2 teaspoons more ice water by teaspoonfuls if the dough is dry.
Gather the dough onto one of the pieces of waxed paper. Form the dough into a mass and divide it evenly in half. Form each half into a disk and wrap each individually in the wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease two 4- or 4 1/2-inch tart pans. Or line two jumbo muffin cups (1-cup capacity, 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 inches) with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil with nonstick cooking oil spray. If using the tart pans, place them on a baking sheet for easier handling.
Roll out each pastry disk on a lightly floured surface into a 6-inch round. For the tart pans, fit a pastry circle into each one, pressing it into the bottom edges and up along the sides. Tuck the overhang onto the inside edge of the pan for extra reinforcement, gently pressing the pastry into the grooves of the pan sides. For a muffin pan, fit each pastry circle into a prepared muffin cup, pressing it into the bottom edges and up the sides, pleating the dough in even folds to fit it to the cup. Tuck the overhang onto the inside for extra reinforcement.
Use a fork to pierce, or dock, the floor (bottom) of each pastry shell. Freeze for about 15 minutes, until firm.
Line the pastry shells with aluminum foil, pressing it into the bottom and edges, and fill with pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake on the middle oven rack for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and pie weights, rice or dried beans. Return the pie shells to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the crusts are are light golden brown. Cool completely (in the muffin pan or tart pans).
For the filling: Position a rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Place the baked tart pans on a baking sheet for easier handling.
Whisk together the sugar, flour and salt in a small, heavy saucepan, then whisk in the whole milk and egg yolk until well blended. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 8 to 13 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolates, butter and cream. Whisk until the chocolates and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth, returning the saucepan briefly to the heat, if necessary. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rum (to taste). Transfer the pudding mixture to a bowl; place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until the mixture is cold, 1 to 2 hours.
Spoon half of the pudding mixture into the pastry shells, dividing it evenly.
For the topping: Slice half of the banana thinly and arrange on the pudding mixture, dividing it evenly. Spoon the remaining half of the pudding mixture on the banana slices, dividing it evenly. Cut the remaining banana diagonally into thin oval slices; arrange the slices attractively on the tops of the tarts.
To serve, sprinkle the banana slices with sugar. Caramelize the sugar with a culinary kitchen torch, or place the tarts under a preheated broiler and broil until the sugar is caramelized.
Serve with whipped cream on top or on the side.
VARIATIONS: To make marshmallow-meringue-topped pies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Use a rubber spatula to measure the marshmallow creme in a dry-ingredient measuring cup and scrape it all into a small bowl. Stir it well; the creme will be sticky.
Combine the egg white and salt in a small, deep mixing bowl; beat on high speed using a hand-held electric mixer until foamy. Add the sugar and beat until firm, glossy peaks form. Stir 2 tablespoons of the egg white into the bowl of marshmallow creme until it is incorporated. (The marshmallow creme is very sticky and will be difficult to blend at first, but it will become easier as the remaining whites are folded in.) Fold in the remaining egg white. Spread the meringue on the pies, mounding slightly in the center and swirling to create peaks.
Bake for 4 to 6 minutes, just until the peaks and ridges of marshmallow meringue are lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the tarts from the pans or muffin caps (peel off the foil) and serve while the meringue is warm.
To make rum-flavored whipped cream, combine the heavy whipping cream, confectioners' sugar and rum in a small mixing bowl; beat on medium speed with a hand-held mixer until firm peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (within 1 day).
Adapted from "Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers," by Debby Maugans (St. Martin's Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books, 2011).
Tested by Nicole Schofer and Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.