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Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake

May 15, 2011

Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Butter Banana Cake

These days, my cookbook collection is made up of 60+ gloriously tasty books, but it all started with my very first cookbook purchase: a used thrift-store copy of Mrs. Field’s Best Ever Cookie Book. Many years after purchasing it, I can say that this has been one of my favorite and most-used baking books. My pupils change into heart shapes whenever I read it - swear.

This recipe only stands to make me love it more. This cake is moist, full of banana flavor and includes added banana slices within layers of chocolate frosting. It is everything you’d want a banana cake to be - with one exception: there was no peanut butter! So I made a peanut butter icing to fill it with and forewent - is that a word? - the chocolate filling in the recipe.

The only reason I don’t make this cake on a regular basis is that it takes a little thought to prepare for it- that is, if you’re as picky about the state of your bananas as I am. When I eat bananas straight, they have to be exactly ripe (not under or overripe). So for me, in order to have this cake in it’s optimal state, I need a good 5 or 6 overripe bananas to use in the cake batter and 2 perfectly ripe bananas to slice up for garnish. Maybe it sounds silly but the end result is worth the extra TLC.

If you don’t believe me, you can read Lunch Studio’s opinion. I mean, clearly they have excellent taste. :-P

Update: I forgot to mention that malted milk powder is one of my new favorite ingredients. I finds that it helps bridge the gap between peanut butter and chocolate - especially dark chocolate. It just helps the flavors mesh a little more. So if you’re wondering why it’s in both the chocolate coating and peanut butter icing, now you know!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cake
modified from Mrs. Field's Best Ever Cookie Book (p. 160)
Yields 1 big cake

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups mashed bananas plus 2 whole bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used finely chopped bittersweet)

Make the Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 12 pan. Line the pan with parchment, then butter and flour the paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the mashed bananas and the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture and the chocolate chips until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-48 min, or until the center is set. Cool on a rack to room temperature. Once the cake is cool, trim in half horizontally into two thin, stackable layers.
4. Make the Peanut Butter Icing...

Peanut Butter Icing
3 oz cream cheese
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter (Jif)
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp malted milk powder (Ovaltine)
1 tsp 2% milk

5. Using an electric mixer on low, beat the cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until combined. Add the confectioner's sugar and milk powder and beat until incorporated. Add the milk and beat until combined, adding more if necessary to smooth the icing.
6. Lay one of the cake layers on your work surface, cut side down. Spread the peanut butter icing onto the cake layer and top with banana slices. Top with the second cake layer, cut side down.
7. Make the chocolate ganache coating...

Chocolate Coating
(This coating holds up really nicely as it's being spread. You can go over it over and over again with the spatula without messing it up and it has a nice, glossy finish.)

1/4 cup chocolate spread (I used World Market's Dark Chocolate Spread, but any store-bought dark chocolate spread should work fine. Just add the milk gradually so it doesn't end up too wet.)
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (Jif)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 cup malted milk powder (Ovaltine)
1 cup 2% milk

8. Using an electric mixer on low, beat the chocolate spread and peanut butter until combined. Add the confectioner's sugar and milk powder and beat until incorporated. Add the milk and beat until combined.
9. Spread the chocolate coating all over the cake, smoothing it out as you go. Store cake in the fridge for up to 3 days (if it lasts that long!).
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