Monday, May 11, 2009

Caramelized Banana Cake with Toasted Coconut and Cream Cheese Icing

I'm sorry chocolate hazelnut cake but you've been replaced. I have found a new favorite cake! With all of these glorious ingredients how could you go wrong? Gooey caramelized bananas squished between moist fluffy banana cake slathered in cream cheese icing and topped with toasted coconut. Don't be afraid of the list of ingredients! Have you ever made banana bread? Well you are halfway there then. I don't even really want to tell you where I got the idea of cream cheese and banana cake.....well okay fine I'll tell you...but I will have you know that a lot of kids in Jr.High were forced by their parents to go to band camp too! Yes band camp.. and no I didn't play the flute. I never went to a religious school but for some reason the place where band camp was held was religious, which meant before every meal we had to pray. As a 14 year old and someone who had never been to church, I found it a bit awkward but I remember thinking heck I will pray as long as they serve me up that delicious warm banana bread with cream cheese icing!! Growing up there was always a loaf up banana bread hanging around the kitchen but I had never had it slathered in cream cheese icing! To this day I still remember it as one of my first god. (no pun intended) food moments.

It was also just cherry blossom season here which is one of my favorite times of the year, so I knew just how I wanted to decorate this cake. Also if you are not the best at icing, this is the perfect cake for you! Since this cake gets completed coated in toasted coconut, you don't have to worry about doing the perfect icing job. I made this for my good friends birthday and when I went back home to Calgary I showed my family the pics and my brother said I want THAT cake!! I obliged but made it a bit healthier by using more whole wheat flour, cut back on the sugar and used low fat cream cheese to make the icing. I honestly thought it tasted just as good as the first time I made it, so I leave you with the healthier rendition of this cake.

Gooey caramelized banana filling

Middle shot

This was the cake I made for my bro and family. Not as pretty as the cherry blossoms!

I love cherry blossoms.

Caramelized Banana Cake with Toasted Coconut and Cream Cheese Icing

Banana Cake(Makes one 8" cake)
2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour two 8" cake pans, line bottom with baking paper.
2.In a bowl mix together both flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. In another bowl beat eggs, sugar and oil. Add bananas and vanilla.
4. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk into banana mixture.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

Caramelized Bananas
2 medium bananas, one ripe, one a bit more firm, sliced
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
*splash of rum is optional*

1. In a large frying pan stir together your sugar and water. Place heat on med-high. When you see it start to turn color, stir the mixture so it caramelizes evenly. Even if it looks clumped together, don't worry, just keep stirring and it will melt.
2. When it turns golden/slightly dark brown take off the heat and add your (optional rum) butter, salt and vanilla.
3. Add in your soft banana first and let it melt into the sauce then add your firm banana which should keep its shape. Leave aside to cool.
Cream Cheese Icing
1 1/2 cups low fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp whipping cream (or almond milk or regular milk)
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a mixer beat the cream cheese, add butter and mix. Slowly add in vanilla, icing sugar and whipping cream. If the icing looks too soft, add a bit more icing sugar.

Toasted Coconut
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a baking sheet spread out coconut evenly and toast until golden brown. Approx 5 minutes. (Keep a close watch as it browns quickly)

To assemble:
1. Cut the tops off both 8" cakes and eat them while you decorate. On one of the cakes, spread with the caramelized banana filling, leaving a 1 inch border around. Invert the other cake on top (cut side down).
2. Ice the cake and coat with toasted coconut.
3. Top with your favorite flower.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mini Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

You can tell how stoked I am about these muffins because they were made just 15 minutes ago and already I am posting this recipe! It would have been even earlier then that but it took those 15 minutes to let them cool a tad, then devour two of them while my camera card loaded into my computer! I make it a habit to buy a couple more bananas then I ever really need so when I see them turn extra brown it gives me the perfect excuse to make banana bread. I also like to keep a small carton of buttermilk on hand for baking (perfect for cornbread, scones, pancakes and any other muffins). Living and cooking for myself I've wanted to have recipes that can make just two cookies or two brownies when you have that craving but dont want to eat consume the whole batch yourself! Well this recipe is perfect, it will either make about 4 regular size muffins or 12 mini ones. I'm also very wary when tweaking recipes to make them healthier because I find that when you cut out the fat, baking can lose that fluffy texture and almost have that dry heavy bouncy texture. Not the case with these!! They are soo fluffy, moist and satisfying. A good tip for making healthier banana bread or muffins is to let your bananas ripen until they are almost black brown, the more sweet the banana is the less sugar you need to add. With two of these muffins I folded rolled oats into the batter and they tasted so good! It gave the muffin a bit of extra texture and chewiness and makes the mini muffin last longer and feel more satisfying. Now if you will excuse me, I just might have to go eat another one...

I took a pic with my cell so you can see the size comparison

Mini Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
(Makes 12 mini muffins or 4 regular size muffins)
1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
3/8 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 unrefined rapadura sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 large banana)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 cup dark chocolate chips (roughly chopped)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. In another bowl combine banana, sugar, olive oil, apple sauce, buttermilk, egg yolk and vanilla.
3. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Bake 12 minutes (for mini muffins) or until toothpick comes out clean.

*Note according to calorie counter one of these mini muffins equal 59 calories and one regular size muffin equals 176 calories*