Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Going bananas for chocolate

It's confession time again... I'm a hoarder of bananas! I can't help it. My son loves bananas, so each week I buy a bunch for his lunch. I always buy too many though so at the end of the week when the midges are starting to swarm, I pop them in the freezer. Recently I had more frozen bananas in my freezer than food! This week I fixed that by making heaps of banana "stuff". For dessert after my son's dinner, I've been processing a frozen banana with a spoonful of nutella and a few macadamia nuts. The rumours are true, it does resemble and taste like ice cream (so much so that my son believes me when I offer him banana ice cream for dessert). To make this post more like my normal sugar packed editions, I also used the bananas to make a birthday cake for my parents (they are a month apart, but we were slack celebrating Mum's, so combined them this year) - a choc-banana layer cake with choc-chip swiss buttercream. The chocolate cake recipe I used was more of a crumbly cake and the banana cake recipe I used was dense, so if I were to make this again, I'd use the recipe I've posted below, which is a richer chocolate cake. ENJOY!

Choc-Banana Layer Cake
Banana Cake
Adapted from Taste
3 eggs
125g unsalted butter, melted, cooled
200g brown sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup (60g) buttermilk
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Grease and line a round cake tin and pre-heat the oven to 180 C.

Beat eggs, butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla in an electric mixer until thick. Stir banana and buttermilk into the batter. Sift in flour, baking powder and cinnamon, then mix until combined. Spread into the pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. I used the remaining cake mixture to make some mini cakes and coated each with a lemon glaze (lemon juice and icing sugar).

Chocolate cake
55g dark chocolate
1 cup boiling water
215g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
a pinch of salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
425g caster sugar

In a bowl, break the chocolate into bits and pour over the boiling water. Whisk until melted then set aside to cool.

Butter 2 x round cake tins and line the base with baking paper.

Sift the flour, cocoa, salt, bi-carb and baking powder into bowl and set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until they are foamy. Reduce the speed to low and pour in the oil, whisking until combined, then raise the speed to medium for about 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to low and pour in the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Then pour in the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk. Add the sugar and beat until the batter is smooth (it will be very wet).

Pour in the sifted dry ingredients and fold through with a wooden spoon. Do not over mix, but try to ensure the mixture isn't lumpy.

Pour evenly into 2 cake tins and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer can be inserted and comes out clean. When ready, let stand cool completely before cutting.

Choc Chip Swiss Buttercream
3 egg whites
130g sugar
142g butter, cubed and at room temp
50g dark chocolate, grated

In the base of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch, about five minutes depending on the original temperature of the eggs. When the mixture has warmed sufficiently, pour it into the bowl and whip on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature, ten to fifteen minutes. When the bowl is no longer warm, turn the mixer to medium-low and begin adding the butter piece by piece. Let each chunk incorporate completely before adding the next and don't rush the process! When the buttercream is thick, fold through the chocolate.

100g dark chocolate
1/4 cup thickened cream

In a saucepan over a low heat, stir the chocolate and cream until smooth. Remove from heat. Choose a plate for your cake and place a chocolate layer on the bottom. Top with half the ganache then lightly push the banana cake layer on top of it. Repeat with the remaining ganache and top with the final chocolate layer. fill any cracks around the side with the buttercream, then spread a layer of cream over the top of the cake. If not eating straight away, store in an airtight container in the fridge, but try and serve the cake at room temperature.

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