Friday, September 25, 2009

Toot Toot, Beep Beep

I'm not one to toot my own horn, I mean I try to be modest: "Oh you think that chocolate hazelnut cheesecake really was good? Oh, thanks...well, it was sooo easy..." even if I know the dessert was a dance on the taste buds.

But on this one I'm definitely tooting. Maybe because it's kind of a surprise, not in my usual play book. I'm gonna tell you right now, it's banana cake. Those words kind of make me a little nauseous, to tell you the truth. But I'm not done. It's more like an Elvis special. And it all started with some very mature bananas at work that were going to have to be thrown out. So I got to town making banana bread and then banana cake. And to make it bearable (and by bearable I mean amazingly rich and dreamy), I layered it with chocolate ganache and iced it with peanut butter frosting.

I am a sucker for peanut butter and bananas, and chocolate and peanut butter (or chocolate and anything), but for some reason, a dessert of banana cake falls to the bottom of my list. But it ended up being some of the moistest cake, on its own, that I've made. And dressed up with heavy chocolate ganache and some salty, whipped, peanut butter frosting, it's hard not to like this cake.

So toot toot.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Butter Frosting

banana cake
2 ¼ c flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 c (4) very ripe bananas bananas
¼ c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2 stick butter
1 1/3 c sugar
2 eggs

Preheat an oven to 350F. Grease and one 9” springform pan or two 8” rounds (the first will provide three layers, the second four). With the butter at room temperature, cream it with the sugar. Mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mush up the bananas and then add other wet ingredients, mixing everything well. Then add to the dry ingredients and incorporate everything, including the butter and sugar mixture. Pour into the pans and bake until a toothpick comes up just about dry, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool and then remove from pans. If you are using one pan, cut with a serrated knife into three portions. If you have used two pans, cut each in half.

chocolate ganache
1 ½ c heavy cream
1 lb good dark chocolate

Bring the cream to a simmer over the stove. When it’s just under a boil, remove from heat and stir in chocolate, until it’s completely melted. After you have cut the cakes and they have cooled, frost each layer with the ganache and stack.

peanut butter frosting
1 c creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

In an electric mixer, cream the butter and peanut butter together. On a low speed, at the powdered sugar a little at a time, and the vanilla and salt, until everything is mixed well. Taste and make sure you like the flavor. You can always tweak by adding more sugar or peanut butter. Your cake should be stacked now and layered with ganache. When you have the frosting ready, simply take a spatula and ice the outside of the cake. Now dig in.

P.S. This cake freezes very well, just defrost it and let it come to room temperature, or if you’re eating slice by slice, pop it in the microwave.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Summer Something...

Thought I'd just give you a little something pretty to look at with the promise that more will come soon. This crostini, or good stuff on toast, was sort of thrown together at the last minute, but with some really great ingredients. I pulled whatever we had out of the fridge, and in this case it ended up being ricotta and pecorino romano (love its saltiness), then grilled some asparagus, and picked some fresh mint to sprinkle along with a bit of dried red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Completely do-able and delicious. Oh, and having sunflower seed bread to throw on the grill doesn't hurt either.