This recipe really reminds me of when I first started training to be a Pastry Chef. My days were filled with making trays of brownie and cutting shortbread like a robot. One of my favourite things to make was this Banana Cake. It was formed into loaf tins and adorned with a sprinkling of Walnut Crumble. The sweet scent of Bananas always wafted through the kitchen after they were taken out of the oven. I usually had to cut these loaves into slices to be displayed under a large glass dome, but always managed to sneak myself the end slice (inevitably drier, but still tasty.)
This time I decided to give my favourite Banana Cake recipe a bit of a makeover and add a whipped cream topping as well as dotting Valrhona Gianduja Chocolate into the cake mix. (Of course I was also going to add dark chocolate shards and cute little champagne stars because it’s a New Year!)
As I decided to add in extra sweetness with the addition of cream and chocolate, I reduced the sugar in the original cake mix to compensate.
I think that a lot of people know how good quality Valrhona Chocolate is but I don’t think that their Gianduja Chocolate is widely known to home bakers, but it’s found a lot in professional kitchens. It’s a cross between hazelnut paste and dark chocolate. It’s not crisp and snappy like ordinary dark chocolate, but soft with a melt in the mouth texture. You can get either the dark or milk version, both equally delicious and irresistible. One piece and you’re a goner for the next half hour while you devour square after square.
This cake is seriously delicious without the addition of Gianduja, however, popping in morsels of it into the batter really adds a little boost of flavour every time you hit a pocket of smooth hazelnut chocolate. If you can’t find this particular chocolate, you can use a dark chocolate. Just choose one that isn’t too intense or bitter. Although I would recommend going out of your way to find it, it really is something you need to try.
I did make a bowl full of caramel bananas to bejewel the top of this cake, but I ended up eating it all before it got anywhere near the finished article.
Eating less clearly isn’t on my New Years resolution list, and I’m not even sorry.
Note: If you’re admiring the beautiful mug that’s in the background of some of these shots; they are lovingly handmade by my uncle. He’s a professional potter based near Bath, for more of his pieces visit: Matt Waite Pottery
- 115g cream cheese
- 180g banana
- 90g walnuts, chopped
- 225g plain flour
- 7g bicarbonate of soda
- 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 170g sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 60g valrhona gianduja chocolate, cubed
- 300ml double cream
- 30g sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8 inch spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
In one bowl, mash the bananas and cream cheese together until there are no big pieces of banana left. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and light. In a third bowl, combine the plain flour and bicarbonate of soda.
Beat your two eggs together and begin to gradually add them into your creamed butter mixture, making sure that you beat the egg in well after each small addition. Add in both the banana mixture and dry ingredients alternately into the butter in two additions. Finally, add in the walnuts and fold through.
Place half of your banana cake mix into your prepared tin. Level the mixture out. Place the cubes of gianduja chocolate on top of the mix, making sure the chunks are evenly distributed. Spoon the remaining half of the cake mix on top and level out to cover up the pieces of chocolate.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, covering the top with aluminium foil if it begins to brown too quickly. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Take the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a cooling rack.
Once the cake is completely cool, place onto your desired serving plate. Whip up the double cream with the 30g of sugar until it can hold its shape. Spread the cream on top of the cooled cake and adorn with shards of chocolate and champagne stars!