Sweet & Salty Chocolate Banana Caramel Cake

There sure is a lot to love about this time of year.

Holiday jams on the radio, boots and scarves on my body, fudge in my belly, a general spirit of jolliness and good will towards men in the air.
Sorta.

Even so, there’s definitely one aspect associated with this point in the year that I utterly despise…

It’s the nearly unavoidable tendency to end up overcome with trivial crapola and lose sight of what’s legitimately important.
Important being, what you truly care about at the end of the day… stuff that makes you feel something inside. All that jazz.

It’s pretty much my own fault… but the hectic pile of insanity that typically drops on top of life around the beginning of December makes for a super convenient scapegoat.

I know I’m not the only one guilty here.

But still, it’s bad. So bad. And so easy.

Really though, all the junk I was stressing so hard over yesterday… do I really care about any of it today?
Not really, no.

Does it honestly matter if I walked out without my well-scripted notes for a 9 am oral presentation?
Nope. I pulled some words out of my butt and talked for a while. It was fine.

Will it matter 10 years from now that I couldn’t for the life of me recall how to calculate a liquidity ratio on an econ test?
Unless I have a serious change of heart and pursue a career in family financial planning… I doubt it.

Do I care deep down if after possibly the most nerve-wracking public speaking encounter in my ever-loving  life,  my Italian class is now fully aware that I’m not actually capable of speaking Italian?
No.

That’s the same in English and Italian

Is the big ugly zit plaguing the upper left quartile of my forehead, the big ugly mess of laundry plaguing my floor, or the big ugly cloud of final exams, un-purchased Christmas gifts, and un-found future internships plaguing my life truly worth my peace of mind?

Man, I really don’t think it is.

Every single one of those big ugly things will eventually be resolved.

That’s a fact.

I hope.

So what does actually matter?

Well, I’d say this cake puts on a fine demonstration of what matters.
To me, at least.

This 10 lb ridiculous mash of sweet, salty, and more sweet was made in recognition of a very special young chick’s 2nd decade of living.

This Sweet & Salty Chocolate Banana Caramel Cake says that people matter.

The fact that they were born and somehow crossed paths with you matters.

Their story matters, your moments together matter, and the way you both say nanner instead of banana matters.

This cake says details matter.

Organization matters.

But when the game-plan fails, above all else… creativity matters.

That’s what this cake says.

Word.

Your general health matters. I mean duh.

But being a size zero doesn’t matter. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep 7 days a week definitely doesn’t matter.

On occasion…

Eating cake and being happy with yourself matters.

Late hours dedicated towards a goal matter.

Having  goals in the first place matters.

 Going out of your way to let people know they matter matters.

And for me, cake in and of itself matters.
No shame. Cake makes me supa happy.    Obviously.

Whatever happens to smack a genuine smile on your face…  that so matters.

Moral of the story:

If it won’t matter tomorrow, it shouldn’t matter today.

Regardless of the time of year or what’s on your plate at that point, the majority of your time, energy, and heart gots to go into what’s still gonna matter a year from now.

Amen and hallelujah.

P.S. if you missed it earlier today… Cookie & Confection Countdown Day 6 puts us at an old favorite, BIG PIG BACON BARK.     Oink.

Sweet & Salty Chocolate  Banana Caramel Cake

For the white chocolate cake layers:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter at low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla. At low speed, alternately beat in the dry ingredients and the milk in 2 additions. Add the melted white chocolate and beat just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the surfaces.

Bake the cakes in the center of the oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the banana cake layers: 

From relish.com

  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1  cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1  cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/4  cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2   teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

To prepare cake, combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla.

Combine banana and buttermilk in a small bowl.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with banana mixture. Stir in nuts.  Scrape batter into prepare pans.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

For the white chocolate-chocolate chip cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 & 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Using a hand mixer,beat together the cream cheese and butter and until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the melted white chocolate, pouring  in a constant stream, until evenly incorporated.
Next, add the confectioners’ sugar by 1/2 cup until frosting reaches desired consistency. Mix in the mini chocolate chips by hand.
For the salted caramel filling:
**note: this is best made the night before and allowed to chill overnight
Adapted from Joy the Baker
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium, heavy bottom saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring once or twice.  Without stirring, allow the sugar mixture to boil until reaching a medium amber color.  Once sugar has browned, remove from heat and immediately add heavy cream and butter.  Mixture will boil and foam.  Stir well.  Add salt and stir well to incorporate. Pour caramel in a bowl, cover and refrigerate to cool.
For the brown sugar frosting: 
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add the brown sugar.
Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium low, and continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly.Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.

Place the softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, then pour the cooled brown sugar mixture over top. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.

For the salted chocolate ganache:

  • 6 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Chop the chocolate and place in a stainless steel bowl; set aside. Heat the cream and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then immediately pour boiling cream over the chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle  lightly the sea salt over top of the ganache once poured over the cake.
For the chocolate dipped pretzel rods:
  • 1 bag long pretzel rods (about 24 rods) broken into various lengths
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate
  • 12 ounces white chocolate
Melt the dark chocolate either in a double boiler on the stove or carefully in the microwave, stirring at 20 second intervals until smooth. Dip roughly half of your rods in melted chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once completed the first half of the rods, place this cookie sheet in the freezer to harden and repeat the process using white chocolate on the remaining pretzel rods.
Drizzle additional chocolate over the cooled rods if desired.
Assembly
Place a layer of the cooled white chocolate cake on your serving plate and spread approximately 1/3 of the white chocolate-chocolate chip cream cheese frosting evenly over top. Then spread 1/3 of the cooled salted caramel evenly over the cream cheese frosting. Place a layer of banana cake on top.
Spread 1/3 of the white chocolate-chocolate chip cream cheese frosting evenly over top of the banana cake. Then spread 1/3 of the cooled salted caramel evenly over the cream cheese frosting. Place the next white chocolate cake layer on top.
Spread remaining 1/3 of the white chocolate-chocolate chip cream cheese frosting evenly over top. Then spread 1/3 of the cooled salted caramel evenly over the cream cheese frosting. Place the final banana cake layer on top.
Frost the sides of the cake with the brown  sugar cream cheese frosting, then gently press the chocolate dipped pretzel rods around the entire circumference of the cake (alternating between dark and white chocolate).
Finally, pour the chocolate ganache over top of the cake and sprinkle evenly with coarse sea salt.

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