I have never made Swiss meringue buttercream before, but I was in the mood to make a cake on a random Saturday afternoon, where I wasn’t even sure if anyone would be around to eat it, so what better time to experiment with a new type of frosting? I figured, if nothing else, I wouldn’t have to face a room full of people and feel embarrassed about my pitiful Swiss meringue. I did some research and prepared myself – did you know that part way through making Swiss meringue, the frosting will look curdled? That sort of made me feel better, knowing that it was supposed to look bad at one point during the process. Either way, it turns out that Swiss meringue buttercream isn’t hard to make at all! The frosting came together flawlessly, so I was able to play around with the flavors and turn it into a peanut butter Swiss meringue, a truly decadent frosting, if I don’t say so myself. The lesson learned here? Don’t be afraid! Swiss meringue may sound fancy and troublesome, but it’s actually quite easy and the result is a rich, delicious frosting with the texture of velvet and enough stability that allows you to turn it into any flavor you desire. I had some ripe bananas laying around (who doesn’t?), so I made a quick banana cardamom cake, added in some chopped chocolate, and sandwiched my new favorite frosting in between each layer. I didn’t feel much like decorating an entire cake, so I made a simple chocolate ganache and poured it over the entire cake – I think it looks better than some cakes with a lot of difficult decoration techniques, and it couldn’t be easier to do. The best part of this cake? It’s a Chocolate Chip Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache! Need I say more? It’s quite possibly a cake that combines all of my (and Kramer’s) favorite flavors, and I ended up having a few friends over to share it with. A wonderful weekend, indeed.
Now, onto bigger and better things. If you remember, I posted last week about how I was going to be involved in All-Clad’s New York City food truck events. I told you that Chef Aaron Sanchez, of Centrico, would be there cooking up some delicious street food and that I would be able to bring four of you along with me to check out the truck, sample the food, and get a gift from All-Clad. I have contacted the four lucky people who will be coming along with me, but you can still stop by the event to check out the truck and get some food, and I really hope you do because I’d love to meet as many of you as possible! The event will be held on Thursday, September 15th outside of the SoHo location of Bloomingdales (504 Broadway between Spring Street and Broome Street) from 4 to 6 PM. Chef Sanchez cooks amazing upscale Mexican fare, which is possibly my favorite thing ever, so I’m really excited to see what he’s got for us to taste and I look forward to seeing you there!
Combine your flour, baking soda, salt, and cardamom and set aside.
Combine your butter and sugar in your mixing bowl and beat until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
Mash your bananas and set aside.
Beat in your eggs with the sugar mixture, one at a time, until combined, then add in the bananas and vanilla.
Gradually beat in your flour mixture, then fold in your chocolate.
Prepare your pans by cutting out pieces of parchment, or by buttering well.
Divide your batter evenly among your pans and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes for 3 pans or 30-35 minutes for 2 pans.
Allow your cakes to cool completely before removing from the pans.
While your cakes cool, make your frosting.
Combine your egg whites and sugar, and stir over a double-boiler until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Allow the egg mixture to cool to room temperature, then begin to beat until peaks form.
Beat in your butter, two tablespoons at a time, until the frosting comes together. Add in your salt and peanut butter.
Frost your cake, one layer at a time.
Make your crumb coat and stick the cake in the fridge for 15 minutes or so, to firm up.
Complete your final frosting layer, then put back in the fridge to firm up again while you make your ganache.
Pour the ganache over the cake, then put back in the fridge to firm up.
Slice and serve.
- 2½ cups cake flour
- 3 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2½ cups mashed banana (about 4 medium bananas)
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup egg whites (about 8 egg whites)
- 1½ pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-2 teaspoons cream or milk
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut out pieces of parchment paper and fit them inside of your 3 cake pans - this helps get them out of the pan much, much easier, so I highly recommend it, but you can always just grease or butter the pans very well if you don't have parchment. I should also note that you can either use 2 or 3 pans, depending on how large you want your cake to be. I used 3 9-inch pans and the layers were thin, but it made for a bigger cake and I didn't have to cut the tops off of them or anything, so I thought it worked out quite well.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cardamom and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth, about 3-5 minutes, then add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the bananas and vanilla, then add in the flour a bit at a time, until just moistened. Add in your chocolate by hand.
- Pour the batter evenly among your 2 or 3 prepared pans, then bake for 30-35 minutes (for 2 pans) or 20-25 minutes (for 3 pans), until just golden - a toothpick should come out of the cakes cleanly. Place the pans on racks and allow them to cool completely before removing the cakes from the pans. Set aside until ready to frost.
- To make your Swiss meringue, start by combining the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler. I do not have a double boiler, so I just put the egg whites and sugar in my stand mixer, then put the stand mixer over a shallow pan filled with very hot water. This seemed to work out just fine for me, but be careful not to get any water in your bowl and not to let your bowl get too hot, as you don't want your eggs to scramble.
- Stir your egg white and sugar combination with a rubber spatula until the sugar has completely dissolved over medium heat. This may take about 10 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get at all of the sugar and be sure it is dissolved. When you think your egg whites are ready, feel some of the mixture with your hands - it should feel completely smooth and no grains should be there anymore. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for 8-10 minutes, until at least room temperature - if it is not cooled enough when you add in the butter, the butter will melt and the frosting will not come together.
- Using your stand mixer (which is pretty much a necessity for Swiss meringue, although you could use a hand mixer if you are determined enough), beat your egg whites and sugar together on high until stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Now, start adding in your butter, 2 tablespoons at a time on the medium speed setting. Be sure each 2 tablespoon addition has been beaten in completely before adding in more. When you are a bit more than halfway through the butter, it will begin to look curdled and you will want to freak out. DO NOT FREAK OUT. It will be okay and it will come back together, just keep going. If you've added all the butter and it still looks that way, keep beating it for another 5-8 minutes, and it should come back together. If it doesn't, it's probably because the egg white mixture wasn't cool enough when you added the butter - just put the bowl in the fridge for 5 minutes or so to firm it back up, then start beating it again, and repeat until it has the correct consistency. The final product should look smooth and shiny. Beat in the salt and peanut butter, taste, and adjust as necessary.
- To frost your cake, place one layer on your chosen surface and spread about ½ (or more) cup of frosting over the layer. Place another layer on top, trimming if necessary to create an even surface, and frost again. Place the final layer on top, again, trimming if necessary to create a flat layer, and frost with a thin coat of the buttercream. Stick the cake in the fridge for about 15 minutes, so that the crumb coat firms up. This will help make your final coat of frosting as smooth as crumb-free as possible.
- When you have finished frosting your cake for the final time, (I find it is easiest to frost a cake with a cake spatula and a lazy-susan type cake tray that turns - each item is less than $5 and $10, respectively, and completely worth the investment), place it in the fridge again for 15 minutes or so, to firm up. While it firms up, make your chocolate ganache. If you have a double boiler, use that, but I don't, so I was just easy on the heat. Add your chocolate and butter to a small pan and stir constantly over medium-low heat, until melted. Add in your teaspoon or two of milk, to make it more fluid, and stir to combine. Remove from heat and immediately pour over your cake, spreading out gently as necessary, to create a "melting" effect on the top of your cake. You can also wait for the chocolate to cool and pipe it on, if you prefer, but this method is much easier and looks gorgeous. Place the cake back in the fridge until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes, and serve. This cake will keep well overnight in an airtight container, then leftovers can be frozen or kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.