If I get my welly on, I might just get this post posted in time for the We Should Cocoa deadline.This will be my third entry and if you are interested in reading my other two, you can find them here and here. This month’s challenge was set by Choclette and it was Cheese. Yup.
I wasn’t too enamoured as my baking repertoire isn’t really extensive enough to do something creative with cheese. I had two attempts, the first was Nigella’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake. When I first saw this cope, my head exploded and I was thinking, Woaaahhh, it’s a giant Reese’s peanut butter cup!!!!.
But no. No, Nigella. That just didn’t do it. It was nowhere peanut buttery enough. It was too cream cheese-y and it lacked the salted peanuts kick. I ditched the idea of submitting it for We Should Cocoa and it spent the remainders of its shelved in the fridge, only to be eaten away with a spoon by Slaveboy and the sproglettes. Despite many comments that it was improving with age, the cheesecake simply didn’t cut the mustard as it is day 4 now and it is still in the fridge. Very few cakes get to live to such a ripe age in the VonSponge household.
Still hung up on the peanut butter plus cream cheese theme, I went back to a favourite banana recipe of mine, Dan Lepard’s Butterscotch Banana Cake. I adapted the recipe to fit what I wanted to achieve. Here’s how I did it.
500g banana flesh, mushed up coarsely with a fork
350ml sunflower oil
4 free range eggs
400g plain flour
4 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml mascarpone cheese
300g + 140g caster sugar
Prepare two 20cm tins, double line them and grade slightly. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C (fan assisted oven)
1. To a heavy based pan, add the 300g of sugar and 50ml of water and bring the content to a boil. You need to cook this over a high heat until the sugar turns dark amber. Resist the temptation to stick your finger in this mixture. It will only bring you pain. And crispy finger.
2. Add the mushed banana and butter, let it simmer until the mixture turns thick. Set aside and allow to cool.
3. Beat the remaining 140g sugar with the oil and eggs, until the mixture becomes aerated.
4. Add the cooled banana mixture and mascarpone cheese. Mix well and ensure that the mascarpone cheese is fully incorporated.
5. Fold the flour, wheat germ, baking powder and wheatgerm.
6. Bake for around 45- 50 minutes, but do check at 40 minutes. A skewer should come out clean when it is cooked.
While you’re waiting for the cake to cook, make the peanut butter cream cheese frosting. I used the recipe from Bon Appetit. I actually doubled the recipe but ended up with lots extra. I did add extra salt to the frosting as I think peanut butter cream cheese frosting needs that added salt to balance the sugariness but I shall leave you to decide just how much, if any, you need to add. Do put this frosting in the fridge before you start so that it has a chance to firm up. This will make it easier to spread on the cakes. Otherwise, it will be beyond schleppy.
Once the cakes have cooled a little, turn them out onto cooling racks. They need to be cold before you sandwich them together. I normally sandwich them together, crumbcoat the exterior(this is where you just do a rough thin coating of frosting) and pop the assembled cake in the fridge for a little while.
Now is the time to make your chocolate curls. Take 100g milk chocolate and 50g dark chocolate and melt them in a double boiler. Make sure you have ready a parchment paper on a baking sheet, so you can tip the melted chocolate on it when it is ready. Spread the mixture thinly with a spatula and pop the parchment paper on the tray into the freezer.
You want the chocolate to chill enough that when you press your thumb in to the surface, it leaves the slightest of thumb indentation. This is when you know it is ready to curl. I say chill for around 5 minutes in the freezer, but no more.
Leave the paper on the chilled Baking sheet. Using a cheese plane or a metal spatula. Scrape the chocolate so you end up with curls. A cupful will be enough to cover the top of the cake.
Once you have done this, sprinkle the curls on to the top of the cake and chill again briefly.
This cake is truly very moist and light and rich. The peanut butter didn’t overpower the banana, in fact it complemented it well. It definitely needed that extra bit of salt in the frosting.