Sunday, October 7, 2012

Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

This was my assignment for The Bitten Word's cover-to-cover food magazine challenge.  I had already read the issue of Bon Appetit, and I would have made this eventually.  This was just an excuse to make it sooner.  This thing has a pound of butter and a jar of peanut butter in it.  Just a heads-up.  I found the calories listed online, and wished I hadn't.

I have a problem with recipe names that are this long.  It shows a lack of creativity, and proves that there are too many competing flavors in the product.  I would have named this "Banana Madness Cake" or "Peanut Butter-Banana Awesome Cake", because the peanut butter ends up being the dominant flavor.

Since I was test-driving the recipe for their blog, I couldn't cut it down and made the full-sized cake.  Cakes are big.  When they say 16 servings, they really mean it.  I took it to work, and encouraged everyone to take some home to their families.  It still took three days to eat it, but people were also disappointed that it was gone.  It has that "I want the leftovers" factor.  These would make really cool cupcakes, with the peanut butter frosting and chips to decorate them.  As a single cake, it weighed at least six pounds.  Not kidding.

I learned a few things while making this.  One, I only have one 8" cake pan and this requires two.  Two, it was a good thing I used the 9" pans instead, because the recipe actually called for extra-deep 8" pans and it would have overflowed.  Three, a good-sized banana makes about half a cup of mash, and I came up half a cup short.  That turned out to be a fortunate thing, considering the extra-deep pan issue.  Four, I'm out of sugar.  I had to empty sugar bowls to get past the first cup, and eventually used sugar cubes to make up the rest of it.

Nonstick spray or shortening
3 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 C sugar
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C (4 or 5) mashed very ripe bananas
1 C sour cream
10 oz mini chocolate chips (it came in a 12 oz bag, so I just saved the other 2 oz for garnish)

2 C creamy peanut butter
1-1/2 C powdered sugar
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2-1/2 tsp vanilla
chocolate chips, mini chips, and kisses for decoration

special equipment: Two 8x8x2" cake pans
alternate: Two standard 9" cake pans or about 3 dozen cupcakes

1.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Coat cake pans with nonstick spray or shortening (or use paper liners for cupcakes).  Line bottom of pans with parchment or waxed paper; spray paper.

2.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.  Using electric mixer, cream sugar, butter, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and scraping down sides and bottom of bowl.  Beat in vanilla.

3.  Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed just to blend.  Add bananas and sour cream; beat just to blend.  Fold in mini chips.  Divide batter evenly between pans - I recommend using a scale and weighing them.  It's over two pounds of batter per pan.  Smooth the tops of the cakes.

4.  Bake cakes until a tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  I baked mine for 15, then rotated racks, baked another 15, rotated again, and 5 more minutes was perfect.  Transfer to a cooling rack and cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto racks, peel off paper, and let cool completely.  You can even freeze the cakes and frost them another day.

5.  For frosting, beat peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Place one cake upside-down on platter (or cake circle if you need to move it to a different plate at some point).  Spread 1-1/4 C frosting on it.  Place remaining cake right-side up on top of it.  Use remaining frosting to coat top and sides.  Garnish with chocolate.  Cover and chill. (ok to refrigerate for up to 2 days)  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Makes at least 16 servings

Difficulty rating :)

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