Chocolate Banana Cake

I love, love, love bananas. Years ago, when I was pregnant with my second son, I literally lived on them – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My (dear?) husband used to tease me if I was sure I wasn’t expecting a monkey, but other than the absolute inability to be still, and his constant need to run and jump every waking minute, Daniel turned out fine, no fur or tail involved. But, he sure loves bananas, just like his mother.
Now, when you take a sweet, ripe, brown freckled banana, and pair it with chocolate, you have an instant winning combination. This cake literally melts in your mouth. You have a layer of chocolate cake, moist from the sour cream and mashed bananas, followed by a thin layer of tart jam, which counteracts the chocolaty sweetness of the cake, and lots and lots of sliced bananas smothered in chocolate buttercream frosting. Yum.
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Chocolate Banana Cake

Cake:
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 smaller bananas, mashed (the riper the better; it really helps to intensify the flavor)
  • ½ cup sour cream (or white yogurt; I use them interchangeably in baking)
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Frosting:
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 200 g (7 oz.)  white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 45 g (1.5 oz.) cornstarch
  • 45 g (1.5 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate, grated
  • 226 g (8 oz., 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Glaze:
  • 113 g (4 oz., 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 150 g (5 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate

+ 1/3 cup tart jam (raspberry, currant)
2 – 3 bananas, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons rum or chocolate liqueur (optional)

Method:
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat it to 350 °F. Line 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking pan, and butter/flour the sides.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and gradually add the rest of the wet ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Combine them with the banana – sugar – egg mixture, and mix in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into a pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place a rack on top of the pan, and invert them together. Remove parchment paper and let cool completely.
  5. While the cake is cooling, prepare cooked chocolate frosting: Combine sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in a pan, and add a little milk, to make a smooth paste with no lumps. Then add the rest of the milk in the pan. (Alternatively. mix sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and all the milk in the blender until smooth.) Add chopped chocolate. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until very thick. Take off the heat, press saran wrap on top of the pudding, and let cool completely.
  6. In a bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until fluffy. With the mixer still going, carefully and gradually keep adding the cooled chocolate pudding. (Go slowly, one tablespoon at a time, so the frosting won’t curdle.) Beat well until light and fluffy.
  7. Drizzle the cooled cake with rum or liqueur if desired, and spread liberally with jam. In close rows arrange thinly sliced bananas on top, and cover them with frosting. (I had quite a lot of the frosting left over, but we prefer thinly frosted cakes. You might want to use more.)  Put in the refrigerator to chill.
  8. For the glaze, combine butter and chocolate in a bowl over simmering water; stir until smooth.  Let cool slightly, and pour over the chilled cake.
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