Monday, August 6, 2012

Chocolate Cake and Banana Ice Cream

My youngest stepson is now 20. No longer a teenager. When he first came into my life, he was only 7. Just a young boy with glasses. His palate was quite basic, and I had to learn to adapt to that. But this little boy has grown into a twenty year old. I cannot believe it. So, for his birthday cake, he asked for a chocolate cake with banana filling. It was not quite what I had in mind. He was open to Banana Cream Pie. The problem with that, was that we were celebrating his birthday at the beach. Pie would not hold up. Way to HOT. So I thought, how about a Chocolate cake, Chocolate ganache frosting and Banana Ice Cream. He thought that sounded great.

So I went to my favorite recipe source, I found at least 20 different recipes for Banana Ice Cream. I settled on two and went to work. I combined two recipes for this ice cream. I truly believe what sends banana ice cream over the top is carmelizing the bananas. Holy Crap. I could have eaten them out of the pan.

What makes ice cream so easy is the few ingredients. Bananas, sugars, cream, milk and vanilla extract. Life is SO good.

Banana Ice Cream
6 ripe bananas peeled and sliced
4 Tablespoons (1/4 Cup) butter
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup white sugar
2 Cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 Cup of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven for 400 degrees. In a small fry pan, melt butter over meduim heat on the stove. Continue to cook until the butter begins to foam. Swirl the pan around. The butter will start to have this nutty aroma. Heavenly. Brown bits will form and the color of the butter will change from yellow to brown. Remove from heat. Add the brown sugar and let dissolve. When there are no visable lumps, add the chopped bananas. Gently cover the bananas with butter and brown sugar mixture. Place pan in to oven for 20-25 minutes. Your bananas will begin to caramelize. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Move into a bowl and refrigerate for a least one hour or overnight.

In a seperate bowl, add white sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix until sugar dissolves. In a blender, slowly start pouring in banana mixture and heavy cream/sugar mixture.

This will be Very thick. Add the milk to liquify it. Pour into ice cream maker and process according to directions.

I could have started eating here. I  made this Thursday night so that it could freeze completely.

For the Chocolate Cake. I have found the most wonderful recipe that comes together so perfectly. It is from Cooks Illustrated magazine. All Time Best Recipes for 2009. I have made this cake several times. The frosting that comes with this book is also very good. I will provide that another day. I appreciated the people at Cooks for testing out so many recipes. If you follow the recipe, it will be perfect everytime.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter
1 3/4 Cups all purpose flour
4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate - chopped
1/4 Cup dutch processed cocoa
1/2 Cup hot water
1 3/4 Cup sugar
1 Cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 large eggs

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans or one 9x13 cake pan. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder and hot water in a meduim heatproof bowl; set over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2  cup of sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl. In bowl with a stand mixer fitted with the  WHISK attachment whisk eggs on medium low speed until combined for 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 cup of sugar, increase speed to high and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color for 2 or 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated 30 to 45 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula as needed. Add softened butter 1 Tablespoon at a time mixing 10 seconds after each addition. Add 1/3 of four mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat adding flour and buttermilk until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into pan or pans.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center come out with few crumbs. 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans and then invert onto wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
for a 9 x 13 cake
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 Cup heavy cream

Place chocolate and cream in a microwave bowl. Place in microwave and heat in 30 second burst and then stir. Repeat 2 or 3 times. Once the chocolate starts to melt, continue stirring until it becomes glossy. Place in refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes. To cool completely. Stir and notice how smooth and glossy the frosting is. Pour over cake and spread with an offset spatula. You will see how shiny and perfect it looks.

I am not posting the picture of the decorated cake. My skills definitely need work, but it was very good.

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