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SHF: Chocolate Caramel Banana Bites

October 27, 2006

Chocolate Caramel Banana Bites

The components of these petits fours are as follows: banana cake, spiced caramel custard, dark chocolate glaze, flaked almonds, and burnt caramel drizzle. What's not to like?

Even when I tell you that this cake has been in the freezer for a couple of months, that I obviously have issues with creating that square smooth-dipped look, and that the caramel was just a little too burnt - even so, with a pile of tastes like that, you'll understand why the final bite is more than the sum of its parts. (Those poor squares - they look like they're trying to lurch out of their chocolate coating.)

This cake is one of my trusty friends. I found the recipe over at AllRecipes several years ago and it is my very favorite banana recipe. The cake is baked at a low temperature for about an hour, then put into the freezer to cool. The abuse of your freezer is justified in this case because it helps turn out an extremely moist, rather dense cake. It's not too sweet and it freezes beautifully.

Chocolate Caramel Banana Bites

The custard was my first try at pastry cream and boy, is it a snap! Way easier than I ever thought it would be; I don't know why I've been scared of cornstarch. I added a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and it set off the caramel very nicely.

Overall, I liked how these little squares suit fall flavors and colors; the caramel drizzles even look a little like Halloween spiders, although I'm sure someone more handy than myself could draw much more convincing spidery legs. I was just trying not to burn myself on the caramel or let it cool too much before I got it all squeezed out of the baggie, which eventually sprung a leak and just dumped caramel willy-nilly all over the place. Oh well, more for us.

Chocolate Caramel Banana Bites

The main reason I made these into little squares (other than the fact that you get much more chocolate in each bite when they're small like this) is that this is my entry for for Sugar High Friday, my very favorite blogging event. This is SHF24, and it's hosted by Jeanne at Cook Sister! The theme, obviously, is little bites (of delight) - meaning petits fours, mignardises, and other wee sweet things. Food bloggers just love wee sweet things, so I expect there to be many, many, many adorable entries. Go look.

As for me, I love wee things too, but this recipe would be just as good as a layer cake, with pastry cream stuffed inside and chocolate and caramel dashed over the top. Less portion control, that's all.

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Chocolate Caramel Banana Bites

Chocolate Banana Bites with Spiced Caramel Cream

Banana Cake
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large very ripe bananas)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated if possible)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
2 1/8 cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas with lemon juice, set aside. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place directly into freezer for 45 minutes. Let cool completely.

Spiced Caramel Cream
1 large egg
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3 cups milk or cream, divided
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons water
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk in 1/3 cup of milk until smooth; set aside. Place remaining 1 cup milk in a glass measuring cup and microwave until scalding, about 2 to 3 minutes.

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 2/3 cup sugar with 4 tablespoons water and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until syrup caramelizes and turns a golden amber color. Stir to distribute the color and make sure it cooks evenly.

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the hot milk. The mixture will bubble up aggressively, so go slow and be careful. Return the pan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until any hardened caramel has dissolved and mixture is smooth.

Whisk about 1/4 cup of hot caramel mixture into egg and cornstarch mixture. Return entire mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until custard comes to a boil. Add the spices. Continue to boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in butter until melted and whisk out any lumps.

Transfer the custard to a bowl. Whisk in vanilla extract and salt. Set the custard in the fridge to hurry cooling.

In bowl of an electric mixer, beat 1 cup heavy cream at high speed until it forms medium-stiff peaks. Lighten the custard by whipping it with a spatula. Gently fold whipped cream into caramel custard. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Chocolate Glaze
8 oz. dark chocolate
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup cream

Chop the chocolate finely. Bring corn syrup and cream to a light boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Work quickly to dip the the squares before the chocolate cools. (This may not be enough to really coat all the squares - it only did about half of mine. But it's plenty if you just want to coat a cake.)

Burnt Caramel Drizzle
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup cream

Heat sugar and water in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves then leave it alone until the sugar starts turning a deep brown. Stir so it browns evenly and take it off the stove when it's turned a deep amber.

While the sugar is heating, scald the milk in the microwave. Gradually pour it into the caramel - it will bubble up furiously so be careful! Whisk it all together as you pour in the cream, then return to the heat and boil for another minute.

Remove from the heat and let cool a bit. Pour into a plastic baggie and snip a tiny bit out of the corner. Now you can squeeze the caramel right out of the bag in a drizzle.

1. When the cake is finished - cooled and slightly frozen - take it out of the freezer and slice off the edges. Then slice it longwise into long strips. Carefully lift these strips out of the pan and split in half, evenly.
2. Spread the cooled caramel cream on the bottom halves and put the cake tops back on.
3. Put in the freezer for a couple hours, or overnight, well covered with plastic wrap.
4. When the cake strips are firm, take them out and cut into 1-inch squares. Melt the chocolate
5. Dip the squares into the chocolate, or drizzle the chocolate over them, or spread it on. Whatever works for you.
6. Drizzle the caramel over top and press some flaked almonds on.
7. Keep in the fridge, but take out about half an hour before serving to let them soften up a bit.

Posted by Faith at 27 October 2006

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Hi Faith

These sound like a heavenly combination of tastes - like you say, what on earth's not to like?! My mini "baked Alaskas" were also a little lurchy, but in the end it's the taste that matters :P

Thanks for joining SHF#24!

Posted by: Jeanne at October 28, 2006 04:51 PM

oh... you're hitting all the right keys here... chocolate, banana, caramel - it couldn't get any better!

Posted by: johanna at October 30, 2006 09:21 AM

I would love one of these... many of these.

Posted by: Brilynn at October 30, 2006 01:38 PM

hi faith!
wow, this looks sooo good - you don’t know how much I want one (or 10) of these delicious looking delights - chocolate AND caramel AND banana - it's just perfect! =)
I had never heard of baking - and then freezing a cake (!)
well, there is definitely no way out - I just HAVE to try it....am really heating this *ahum...* ;)

Posted by: Julia at November 1, 2006 04:47 AM

Great recipe thanks for sharing, the pictures look gorgeouse what a lovely treat for christmas day.

Posted by: James at December 8, 2006 05:44 AM

Thanks James!

Posted by: faith at December 8, 2006 10:20 AM


Posted by: Callum at April 24, 2007 08:28 AM


Posted by: Latifa at April 30, 2007 06:14 AM

This looks YUMMY

Posted by: JoJo at May 8, 2007 10:10 AM

ohhhh my God

it`s ammazing

I tried it today & it was v v tasty and yummy

thank u a lot ,,

I like your site :)

Posted by: MiM at June 14, 2007 04:13 PM

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