Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"I can't think of a name awesome enough for this" Banana Cake

Bananas. Cream cheese. Dark chocolate. Peanuts. Oh yes... words can barely describe how awesoem this cake is. Like many concoctions coming out of my kitchen, this one started with something that needed used about to go bad, in this case a whole mess of bananas (like, 8. I sent Shaune grocery shopping the week before). After baking 2 big loaves of banana bread, I still had bananas to use up and wasn't feeling inspired. I flipped open my trusty Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and ran from there.

The cake is a straight BHG recipe, but I "decorated" it myself.

Banana Layer Cake

  • 2c All-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 c shortening

  • 1 1/2 c sugar

  • 1tsp vanilla

  • 2 eggs

  • 1c mashed bananas (2-3)

  • 1/2 c buttermilk or sour milk (I NEVER have buttermilk... I just sour with some lemon juice)

Stir together dry ingredients. Cream shortening with sugar and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time. Stir together bananas and buttermilk. Alternate adding flour mixture and banana mixture to the shortening mixture beating on low speed after each addition. Pour into 2 prepared 9" cake pans. Bake at 350* for about 30min or until tester comes out clean.

Here's where it turns awesome:

Split one cooled layer (mine had actually been frozen for several days; makes splitting easier). Fill with purchased or prepared cream cheese frosting (I bought it because it was easier). For the top, prepare dark chocolate ganache:

  • Heat 1c heavy whipping cream to just boiling. Remove from heat.

  • Put 1 1/2 (ish, I never measure) dark chocolate chips or chunks in a heat-safe bowl. I like my pyrex mixing bowls. You can also use bittersweet, but dark is my favorite :)

  • Pour cream over chocolate and let set for a while as the chocolate melts.

  • Ganache will initially be very running, but it will thicken as it cools. Stir occasionally until thick enough to pour without just soaking the cake. Pour over cake up to the edges, allowing some to artistically drip off the sides (lol, just have fun). Honestly, I should have let my ganache set a little longer but hey! We were hungry

After pourin ganache, sprinkle cake top with lightly salted peanuts. Now, the salted bit it important: it adds the PERFECT contrast to the ridiculous amount of sweet going on in the rest of the cake. You need the salted nuts. Just trust me.

You can let this cool a little longer for the ganache to become more shell like, but who has the patience for that? Just be warned... this is rich. I've never had a banana-ier cake, and I think it's because the shortening is essentially flavorless. Butter would add another flavor layer, and I honestly think I like this plain.

BONUS IDEA: One of my layers broke while I removed it from the pan. I crumbled it the rest of the way, then stirred in my left over icing to make a sticky mess. Scoop it out by tablespoon or so and cover with leftover ganache. Instant simple bonbons! I forgot to roll them in peanuts... guess I'll have to make it again!

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