Monday, March 29, 2010

Banana Chip Snack Cake

First, I apologize for supersaturating readers with yet another banana/baking recipe. I can't help it--I bake what I bake. And apparently, so do many other people.

It's probably because we all experience the common occurrence of a surfeit of bananas, browning on the counter. That's my weekly conundrum, what to do with aging bananas that my uber-picky offspring won't eat. My usual answer is to bake banana muffins, a hybrid involving oatmeal and wheat germ and other things my children don't know about. But I'm sick of the things, so I went searching for another way to bake bananas into food.

I found it on pg. 549 of The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. It's called "Banana Chip Snack Cake," which at first made me recoil in horror, envisioning those nasty banana chips (sorry if you love them so) somehow baked into a snack cake. But the chips are actually semisweet chocolate, so...phew.

This one's straightforward and made the most beautiful cake batter I've ever seen. And, my kids love it.

Ingredients: all-purpose flour (2 c), baking powder (2.5 tsp), salt (0.25 tsp), sugar (1.25 c), unsalted butter (one stick/8 tbsp), 2 large eggs @ room temp, 2 ripe large bananas, peeled and mashed (~1 c), whole milk @ room temp (0.5 c), vanilla extract (1 tsp), and semisweet chocolate chips (0.75 c).

I did a few things while making this that differed a bit from the above. First, I cut down the sugar by about a quarter cup. Second, I used 0.75 c of heavy cream because I had it left over. I sifted the dry ingredients, beat the bananas on medium until they were quite, quite smooth, and also beat the hell out of everything else as I added it, except for the flour and semisweet morsels, which I stirred in by hand.

Steps: Grease an 8x8 pan. Oven at 350. Mix flour, baking powder, salt in medium bowl and set aside. Beat the bananas or mush them, whichever. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, followed by bananas, milk, and vanilla, beating well on medium until quite smooth. Stir the flour into the egg mixture, and then the chocolate chips. Smooth into the pan and bake between 55 and 65 minutes. Mine was perfectly done at one hour on the dot.

The cookbook says to cool for 2 hours. Um, no. We turned it out, let it cool about five minutes, then cut right into it. It was quite a hit. (That's the bottom you're seeing in the pic...the chips kinda sink down into their own layer there).

This cookbook also offers a nice tip that might help those of us with uneven banana ripening schedules. If you've got a banana you want to use, but it's not quite ripe enough, pop the entire thing, peel and all, into the oven (about 350) for 10-15 minutes. It'll brown just as though days had passed, bringing out the sweetness and reducing the starchiness. Given my weekly banana affliction, I thought this was a great tip.

If you're not sick of banana recipes, give this one a try...and enjoy!