Friday, October 10, 2014

Chocolate Pudding Cake with Bananas

It feels like a good time to look to some comfort food.  This pudding cake is quick and easy and definitely satisfies the urge for a warm and gooey dessert.

It starts with a basic chocolate pudding cake recipe.  I add some banana slices to increase the comfort quotient and I also substitute a brown sugar caramel sauce rather the usual chocolate.  It brings together some great flavors that harmonize naturally and completely. 

Simply slice a banana into the bottom of an 8” baking dish.  Once you’ve measured and sifted the dry ingredients, melt the butter and whisk it with milk, an egg and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and you have your cake batter, which gets spread over the sliced bananas.  And then for the magic that is pudding cake, there’s another liquid layer that gets poured on top of the cake batter.  In this case, I simmer water, some brown sugar, butter, molasses, a bit of cinnamon and some vanilla.  The cake bakes in just 25 – 28 minutes and comes out looking a bit like a brownie with bubbling sauce on the bottom.  But the cake is super soft, tender and light and the bananas are nice and gooey.  The dessert isn't overly rich or heavy but there is a note of luxury.  It's best served warm, straight from the oven.  A scoop of vanilla, coffee, caramel or whiskey ice cream would send it over the top.

Bench notes:
- The banana should be ripe but firm, not mushy.
- I use natural cocoa powder, not dutched.
- The cake is done when the edges appear set but the center is still very moist.  A tester inserted into the center should have several moist crumbs attached.  If you bake it much longer, there won't be much sauce.
- The taste of chocolate in this cake is light.  If you’d prefer a stronger flavor, fold in 1/2 cup (3 oz) chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips to the finished batter.
- Toasted nuts might also be a good addition to the cake batter.

Chocolate Pudding Cake with Bananas
Serves 9

1 large ripe banana
1 cup (5 oz) flour

1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (3/4 oz) cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder

heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg @ room temperature
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk 
@ room temperature
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups (10 oz) water
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) brown sugar
, packed                         
1 oz (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons (24 grams) molasses
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8" square glass baking dish. Thinly slice the banana and distribute on the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, granulated and brown sugars, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla and combine thoroughly.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until well blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and over the sliced bananas.  Gently spread the batter evenly to the edges.

For the topping, place the water, brown sugar, butter, molasses and cinnamon in a saucepan, Bring to a boil for one minute, whisking to combine. Take off the heat and add the vanilla.  Slowly and carefully pour over the cake batter.  Do not stir or mix in the liquid in any way. The liquid should just sit on top of the cake batter as a separate layer.

Bake the cake until the edges of the cake are set and a tester inserted into the center comes out with several moist crumbs attached, about 25 - 28 minutes.  Serve warm.

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