Monday, May 9, 2016
Chocolate Banana Snack Cake
My tiny little baby Lucy will celebrate her first birthday in one week. I know it is so cliche, but I really have no idea where the time has gone. She used to be so whiny, so needy, so sleepy, and so helpless but has blossomed, seemingly overnight, into a rambunctious, high-energy, always-smiling, constantly-on-the-go, little girl! Her sense of humor is starting to blossom as is her need to tear apart the contents of every cabinet, box, basket, or container she happens upon. She likes to color, be tickled, chase Matthew, eat anything she sees Mommy eating, jump on the trampoline, give high fives, dance to music, swim in the pool, climb up the stairs, read books, and play at the park. Where did my little baby go?!
Lucy's favorite pastime is eating. If I had to pinpoint her favorite foods, I would have to say pizza, smoothies, and anything chocolate. Obviously, she is a health freak. Of those three, chocolate would hands down be the one thing she will never refuse. The girl is obsessed. As a shark can detect the tiniest drop of blood in the water, Lucy can sense the presence of chocolate in the house. It is near impossible to unwrap a candy bar or some other chocolate confection without suddenly experiencing the strange feeling of being watched by a baby smacking her lips and holding a very steady gaze on her prize as she crawls towards you at a speed that would rival that of a small, plump puppy. Once she reaches you, she will demand her fair share of the sweet treat and grunt disapprovingly if you dare take a bite in her presence. While brainstorming ideas for her first birthday party celebration, her love of chocolate sure made it easy to pick out a cake flavor. The fudgiest, most chocolaty cake I can find!
I had Lucy in mind when I spied some rotting bananas on our counter-top. Usually, the kids are pretty good at eating through our banana supply, but there are some weeks where they seem to turn black pretty fast. While Paul claims to enjoy eating overripe bananas, I rarely see him reach for fruit as a snack. He usually opts for a handful of chips. He's where Lucy gets her healthy eating habits from. So what do you do with rotting bananas? Everyone knows you make banana bread. But sometimes you want to make a different recipe than the usual, plain banana loaf for which everyone has a cherished recipe. I though Lucy, being the lover of chocolate that she is, would very much enjoy a chocolate banana snack cake.
Like most banana breads, this recipe comes together quickly. In addition to all the usual suspects that go into banana bread, this recipe also incorporates a generous portion of chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and a surprisingly hefty amount of buttermilk. The result is a rich, chocolaty, moist treat that is perfect plain or served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The kids particularly enjoyed it as an after-dinner-treat. Lucy ate her entire serving, happily hooting the entire time. Paul was also particularly impressed by this treat and his praise very much surprised me because it really is quite an unassuming, humble little recipe. Then I tried a bit for myself and had to agree that it pretty wonderful - especially with some ice cream! I think a ganache glaze on top wouldn't have hurt either - but then again, I am also a chocolate fiend just like my daughter. Matthew declared that tomorrow is Monkey's half-birthday (his little Monkey that he has carried everywhere with him since he was an infant) and that Monkey wanted to have this cake again for his birthday dessert. Nice choice, Monkey.
Chocolate Banana Snack Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Note: I opted to bake this in a bundt pan just because Paul always complains that I never use it and it takes up way too much space in our cupboard. However, this will bake up just as lovely in a 9x5" loaf pan. Just keep an eye on the baking time.
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (good quality makes a huge difference)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed (I actually used three because I can't help myself)
3/4 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a bundt pan thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent the bottom from over baking, place the loaf pan onto two cookie sheets stacked together.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour through the baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add both the brown and white sugar and beat on medium speed for two minutes. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the mashed bananas.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated.. Do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Put the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil to prevent the top from over-browning and continue to bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, about 30-45 minutes longer. Let cool for about 20 minutes or so on a wire rack before unmolding.