Chocolate Chip Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream
 
 
Author:
Serves: 12-15
Ingredients
Cake
  • 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
Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Frosting
  • 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
Chocolate Ganache Layer
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons cream or milk
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at http://www.thecrepesofwrath.com/2011/09/13/chocolate-chip-banana-cake/