Chocolate Banana Bread

This bread is not healthy. I repeat, this bread is not healthy. It’s interesting how every time you have a fruit or a vegetable in the title of a recipe, it sounds like a healthier option. (Did you know that carrot cake at the Cheesecake Factory is one of their highest calorie count desserts? I’m telling you.. vegetables/fruits in a dessert is a lie!) Instead it’s an indulgent, rich chocolate bread which is full of chocolate chips and banana flavor. I think the role of the banana here is not so much to provide banana flavor (which it does) but to give it a rich, moist crumb that is not heavy.I’ve seen a lot of banana breads on Instagram that have the floating bananas on top and always wondered how it is done. And the interesting thing is, no one writes how it is done! Even recipes with the floating bananas don’t mention the bananas on top of the loaf, they just mention putting the batter into the pan and bake. WHY?
Turns out, the bananas do not sink into the bread like I worried. But to keep it from turning color, a light brushing of fresh lemon juice will help it keep its pleasing yellow shade. Sprinkle the top with Sugar In The Raw (aka demerara sugar) and it will glisten with crunchy sugar crystals after it is baked.  It really is one of my favorite banana bread recipes and I think I’ll have a hard time turning back to my older one. On second thought, I might on the days I want to be a little “healthier”… that one uses half whole wheat flour. 🙂

Chocolate Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large brown bananas (1 ½ c. mashed)
¼ c. (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
¼ c. vegetable oil
½ c. packed light brown sugar
1 extra large egg (or large if you don’t have extra large)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. chocolate chips
1 banana, ripe but not browned
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
demerara sugar (sugar in the raw) for sprinkling on top of loaf

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F, grease and line your loaf pan with parchment paper. (I used this gorgeous pan and it is on sale!!)
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt in a medium bowl and set it aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, add the mashed bananas, melted butter, and oil and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the brown sugar, egg and salt and mix until smooth.
  5. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and add in the flour mixture.
  6. While there are traces of flour in the batter, add the chocolate chips and mix just until combined.
  7. Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan.
  8. Slice your banana lengthwise and brush with fresh lemon juice
  9. Place it side by side on top of the batter.
  10. Sprinkle the demerara sugar all over the top and place into the oven.
  11. Bake banana bread for about 50-60 minutes, checking at 50 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake your loaf.
  12. Stick a toothpick in the center of the loaf to check, making sure to check in a few places as skewering a chocolate chip would make you think the batter is undercooked.
  13. Remove pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.
  14. Let cool and serve.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 2Wordy, I know.  This journey of mine started when I was trying to figure out what to post next for the blog.  I have this great caramelized banana bread recipe that I use and was going to blog about that.  But right when I was about to start baking, I realized that banana bread recipes are a dime a dozen on the internet.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 4Why would I bore you with something that has been done for the umpteenth time?  No, I needed to do something different, maybe even drastic.  That’s when I spotted a bag of caramel bits that I picked up at Target a few months ago and the cogs in my brain started turning.

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 6It starts with a soft caramelized banana cake.  What makes it “caramelized” banana cake?  Because you caramelize bananas with sugar and melted butter until it starts to smell like banana heaven in your kitchen.  Then you mix your caramel bits into the batter to increase the caramel factor.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 5Next, the cake layers are sandwiched with cheesecake frosting which is essentially my version of a cream cheese frosting only it is extra thick and tastes very much like cheesecake.  Then the entire cake is surrounded by marshmallow frosting which you toast with your kitchen torch (or in your oven if you don’t have one) and as if you really needed more, you finish it off with a caramel drizzle.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 1Sweet, gooey, soft, toasty, and slightly chewy (from the caramel bits) this cake is definitely worth making for a celebration… or for no reason because it’s your kitchen and you can bake if you want to. 😉
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 3Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting

Makes one 6 inch 4-layer cake

Caramelized Banana Cake

Ingredients:
2 oz. unsalted butter
¾ c. brown sugar
3 medium brown bananas
½ c. buttermilk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. caramel bits

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and prepare four 6 inch cake pans by spraying them with non-stick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a small pot, melt the butter. Once the butter melts, add the brown sugar and bananas and cook for 4 minutes.  Cool mixture for 10 minutes before transferring mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat for 2-3 minutes until mixture is cool and combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, vegetable oil and eggs until homogeneous.
  4. In another bowl, mix both kinds of flour with baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low, add half the buttermilk mixture followed by half the flour mixture.
  6. Finish the batter by alternating the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture again.
  7. Fold in the caramel bits into the batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between 4 pans and bake about 12-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cheesecake Frosting

Ingredients:
10 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch of kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until combined.
  2. Add the powdered sugar slowly, followed by the mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract and kosher salt.  Do not overbeat the mascarpone cheese it will separate if you do.

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a metal bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over a small saucepan with simmering water.
  2. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and whites are slightly foamy and warm to the touch, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Transfer bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat starting from low speed and gradually moving to high speed until stiff and glossy.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract to finish the frosting.

Caramel Drizzle

Ingredients:
3 oz. caramel bits
¼ c. heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt caramel bits with heavy cream until a thick sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick, feel free to add more heavy cream.

Assembly:

  1. Frost each layer of banana cake with cream cheese frosting, ending with a layer of banana cake. Make sure you smooth the sides as well as you can. (As shown above.)
  2. Generously frost the top and sides with marshmallow frosting using your spatula to make swirl patterns along the cake. This will make a more impressive cake when you toast the frosting.
  3. Toast the frosting with a torch (kitchen, butane, or propane your choice) until golden brown.
  4. Drizzle caramel frosting.
  5. Stand back and enjoy your work of art.

Caramelized banana cake adapted from espresso and cream.
Marshmallow frosting adapted from Martha Stewart.