Jamaican plantain tarts are simple but delicious pastries that most of us learned to make during our required cooking classes in high school. Home Economics class started with basic sewing and progressed to cooking for the second semester. In this class we learned to make simple shortcrust pastry and a basic and delicious plantain filling that came together in a crazy good hand pie.
Shortcrust pastry is made from a mix of salt, frozen butter, flour and a small amount of water. The key to getting good pastry is having a good amount of butter in it and not over-hydrating the dough. This shortcrust pastry calls for 2 cups of flour, ½ cup good unsalted butter, ½ teaspoon salt (skip if using salted butter), and 5-6 tablespoons ice water.
Plantains used for plantain tarts should be very ripe. The riper the plantain, the darker the skin will be. Cut the top and bottom from the plantains and score them lengthwise to remove the skin easily. Cut each plantain down the middle and use a sharp paring knife to remove the center seeds. Cut the plantains into 3-4 pieces for each half. The plantains will be tenderized in sugar and water and later spiced.
Spicing the filling:
The plantain filling is spiced with grated nutmeg, vanilla and flavored with butter. Once the spice is added, the plantains are mashed into a paste. The paste should be set aside to fully cool before used in the crust.
The signature color of plantain tarts is pink from adding a small amount of red food coloring. The food coloring in the filling is also completely optional.
Handling the dough:
Once the dough has rested for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator, it should be rolled out to about ¼ inch thickness. The dough may feel dry and shaggy but do not add water. Simply roll the dough once it comes down to room temperature. To make it more manageable, one can also fold the dough and continue rolling until the shaggy nature becomes a smooth consistency. This is called lamination of the dough. This also creates layers and flakiness in the pastry. Cut the dough out into the sizes you want and fill with the cooled plantain filling. Fold and seal the dough pockets with egg wash and a fork. Score the tops with a sharp knife after the egg wash. Scoring can be decorative —done to reveal the filling and also create an escape for air as the pastries bake.
Make an egg wash by whisking 1 egg and a teaspoon of water together in a small bowl. Use the wash to help seal the tarts and to brush the tops of the pastries before scoring them. Sprinkle it with white or brown sugar right before baking.
The Jamaican Plantain Tarts pastries should be baked for 20-22 minutes until slightly golden brown.
Cool on a pastry wire rack before enjoying.
- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup frozen butter, cubed
- ½ tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
- 5-6 tablespoons ice water
- 2 overripe plantains, peeled and seeds removed
- 1 tsp grated nutmeg
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar (divided use)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3-4 drops red food coloring
- Egg Wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- In a large mixing bowl, add flour and butter cubes and gently toss butter in flour. Use your pointer finger and thumbs to press into the flour cubes to flatten them. Keep breaking the butter apart in the flour until they are pea sized pieces.
- Make a well in the center of the butter and flour mixture and add water 2 tablespoons at a time. Toss the flour with both hands after adding the water each time. Once all of the water is used, the flour may still seem shaggy. Press the flour together with the palms of both hands into a ball. If there are dryer areas of the flour, sprinkle with a small amount of water from the tips of your fingers until the dough is able to come together. (Reference video) Wrap the dough into a cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Peel and deseed plantains. Cut into large cubes and place into a small saucepan with water and sugar. Cover and boil plantains until the water has evaporated.
- Once the water has evaporated and the plantains are tender, add nutmeg, vanilla, butter and mash with a potato masher or fork. Do this while the plantains are still hot. Add in food coloring and stir to incorporate. Set the filling aside to cool completely before filling the pastries.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about 10 minutes. While the dough comes to temperature, make an egg wash by whisking 1 egg with 1 teaspoon water. Roll the dough out on a clean floured surface. If the dough seems shaggy and hard to manage, fold the shaggy ends and keep rolling. (reference video) Try to roll the dough in just one direction as opposed to rolling back and forth. Roll to a ¼ inch thickness and cut out rounds in desired sizes.
- Fill each round with cooled plantain filling. Egg wash the edges, fold the dough over. Press with fingers to seal and use a fork to crimp the edges. Place each tart on a baking tray and egg wash the tops. Score the tops with a sharp knife and use the remaining 2 tbsps sugar to sprinkle on top of each tart.
- Bake tarts for 20-22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy.