Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

Because it’s been so hot this summer, my bananas stand very little chance of remaining in an “acceptable” range of yellow-green.  If you too are plagued by overripe bananas combined with a strong chocolate craving, bake up a batch of double chocolate banana bread.  The recipe is on a previous post, but instead of making a loaf, you can make muffins.  I like making mini muffins because they’re cute and perfectly bite sized.  The only changes to the recipe that you’ll need to make are to:

  • use mini or regular sized muffin liners, filled about 2/3 full with batter
  • bake for 15-20 minutes for mini muffins and 20-25 minutes for full sized muffins (don’t overbake or they’ll be dry)

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Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

I love carrot cake, and it’s not just because of the thick layer of rich cream cheese frosting.  This recipe for carrot-pecan loaf cake is for the carrot cake purists as it’s so packed with flavor that it doesn’t need any frosting to make it totally irresistible.  The brown sugar topping provides a nice crunch and just a shot of sweetness which makes this hearty cake perfect for breakfast, snacking, or dessert.
Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit2
A closeup shot of all the goodness.  Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit7

Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

(from Bon Appetit)
Makes one 9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients

1 cup canola oil, plus more
1¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; plus more
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups or 2 1/2 large carrots)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  3. Whisk baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and 1 ¼ cups flour in a small bowl.
  4. Toss raisins, walnuts, and remaining 1 Tbsp. flour in another bowl.
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  6. With mixer running, gradually drizzle in 1 cup oil,
  7. then add vanilla.
  8. Fold in dry ingredients, raisin mixture, and carrots;
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  11. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 65–75 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Bake up to 2 days ahead. Store wrapped at room temperature.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Summer is bikini, bbq, and banana bread season.  The weather has been so warm lately that my bananas have been ripening at warp speed.  Rather than going with the usual banana bread recipe, I made Double Chocolate Banana Bread.  This version of banana bread is super moist, tender, rich and chocolatey, with a hint of banana.  I especially like the crispy top and edges.  This recipe is is definitely in my top 10 favorites and had everyone asking for seconds.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread- KAF1
Double Chocolate Banana Bread- KAF8

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

(from King Arthur Flour)
Makes one 9″ x 5″ loaf or two mini loaves.

Ingredients

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce) King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa, or Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) soft unsalted butter
1/2 (3 1/2 ounces) cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed banana (8 ounces; about 2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold sour cream
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, chocolate mini chips preferred

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 3 1/4″ x 5 3/4″ mini loaf pans, or one 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a medium size bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy.
  4. Beat the egg into the butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Stir in the vanilla, banana, and sour cream to the wet ingredients.
  6. Gently mix in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips until well incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and bake for 45 to 60 minutes (bake for the shorter time for two mini loaves and the longer time for the larger loaf), until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the bread(s) from the oven, and allow to rest in the pan(s) for 10 minutes. Turn the bread(s) out onto a rack to cool completely.

Perfect Pound Cake (according to Ina Garten)

Perfect pound cake- Ina Garten 1

It doesn’t take a lot of inspire me to bake.  I had two ingredients that I typically don’t have on hand, orange zest and extra large eggs, so Ina Garten’s Perfect Pound Cake was next up on my must-bake list.  The recipe caught my eye because it involves things that I don’t typically do when I bake, like sifting the flour THREE times (I only sifted twice because I was using a sieve, and it was just too time consuming and messy), coating the inside of the tube pan with sugar, mixing the wet ingredients for 5 minutes, adding the dry and wet ingredients in multiple batches, and not pre-heating the oven. It turns out that sifting the flour produced a dense but tender crumb which was beautifully flecked with vanilla bean seeds and orange zest. In addition to visual interest, the orange zest also provides a light floral note to the cake. My favorite component of this cake is the the sweet, crunchy, sugary top crust that formed and adds a nice textural contrast to the rest of the cake. Because this cake seems a bit sweeter than the usual pound cakes I make, it would be an especially perfect complement to coffee or tea. My final verdict is that while I’m pleased with how the cake turned out, and it does set itself apart from your usual pound cake, the extra steps of sifting the flour are a bit too high maintenance for me to put this into my bake-often repertoire.

Perfect pound cake- Ina Garten 3

Perfect pound cake- Ina Garten 7

Perfect Pound Cake

Makes 1 12-cup tube pan cake; 12 servings
(from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten – http://www.barefootcontessa.com/cookbooks_details.aspx?CookbookID=33; My notes are in italics between [   ]. )

Ingredients

Baking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy
1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar [I used turbinado sugar]
3 cups sifted cake flour (measure sifted flour by spooning it lightly into the measuring cup.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean [I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste instead]
2 tsp. grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Do not preheat the oven. Place a rack in the oven so the cake will sit in the center. Generously spray a 12-cup tube pan (not one with a removable bottom!) or 2 loaf pans (each 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches) with the baking spray to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar, tilting the pan or pans to make an even coating of the sugar over the bottom and sides. Set aside.
  2. Combine the sifted cake flour and salt and pass the mixture through a sieve or a sifter from one bowl into another 3 times [I only did this 2 times because it took up way too much time]. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Beat in the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and orange zest.
  6. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the cream and beginning and ending with flour, and scraping down the sides of the bowl to combine. (Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled.) Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. The batter should be very light and fluffy.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top, and place in the cold oven.
  8. Turn the oven to 350°F, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the cake, rounded side up, to a wire rack and let cool completely.

© 2015 eatsweetsandbemerry.com

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

Sometimes what I bake is determined by what needs to be used up in my fridge.  I had some ricotta leftover from making lasagna and raspberries in the freezer, so this recipe for Raspberry-Ricotta Cake moved up in my list of must-bakes.  The vanilla cake is very tender and not too sweet, and the tart raspberries remind me of summer.

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake- BA5

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake- BA9

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

(from Bon Appetit, March 2015 – http://www.bonappetit.com/; My notes are in italics between [  ].)
Makes 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta [I used whole milk rocotta]
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided [I used frozen raspberries from Trader Joe’s]

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper, and lightly coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
  5. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Preparation: Active – 15 mins; Total – 1 hr. 35 mins

© 2015 eatsweetsandbemerry.com

A Pie-Cake Sighting

Pie-Cake- Republic of Pie 2a

For a while now, the existence of the famed turducken of desserts, the Pie-Cake, has captured my curiosity, but I wasn’t sure that I would ever come face to face with it.  Well, thanks to Republic of Pie (http://republicofpie.com/), that is to be no more.  I had my first taste of their three pies (cherry, pumpkin, and apple) baked in a vanilla cake (they call it the “Triple Threat Pie Cake”).  While it wasn’t THE BEST thing I’ve ever eaten, it was good. The vanilla cake was a little dry on the outside but tasty enough to inspire me to put a vanilla cake recipe on my must-bake list.  The pies tasted how pies normally taste when not baked in a cake.  I didn’t eat much of the pumpkin pie as I’m not a pumpkin pie fan.  Overall, it was an experience to be had and probably not repeated as the Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding Pie at Republic of Pie is calling my name.

© 2015 eatsweetsandbemerry.com

Classic Carrot Cake (a la Alice Medrich)

Alice Medrich has a gift for taking simple, basic dessert recipes and weaving them into amazing (yet still simple to make) creations.  I’ve tried many carrot cake recipes, and this one wins big for being tender, light, not too sweet, and super flavorful (it’s slightly spicier than the usual carrot cake in the best possible way).  The recipe is easy to make and doesn’t require a mixer, and it also makes a lot so you have lots to share.

Classic Carrot Cake- A medrich 2

Classic Carrot Cake

(from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich – http://alicemedrich.com/books/; My notes are in italics between [  ]. )
Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups (9 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups (12 oz) lightly packed grated peeled carrots [about 6 large carrots]
1 cup (3 1/2 oz) coarsely chopped walnuts [I used pecans instead]

For the Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, slightly softened [1 package]
8 tablespoons (4 oz) unsalted butter; slightly softened [1 stick]
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

To Make the Cake

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F.  Grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. [I used a metal baking dish lined with parchment].
  2. Combine the oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl, and beat with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until well mixed.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. [I combined the dry ingredients in a separate bowl to make sure they were well mixed together.  Then I added that mixture to the wet ingredients.]
  4. Add the carrots and nuts and mix until well incorporated.
  5. Scrape the batter into the baking dish and spread it evenly.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the baking dish on a rack, for at least 2 hours before frosting.

To Make the Frosting

  1. Combine all the frosting ingredients in a medium bowl.  Mix by hand or electric mixer until smooth.

To Assemble the Cake

  1. Drop dollops of frosting all over the top of the cake, then spread evenly with a small spatula or the back of a clean wooden spoon.
  2. Cover and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.  Cut into 3-inch squares to serve.

The cake keeps for up to 5 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

© 2015 eatsweetsandbemerry.com