Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Cake

This cake is an obvious showcase for my love affair with bananas and peanut butter.  That being said, let me make it clear that I enjoy peanut butter with only the one fruit.

‘What about apples and peanut butter?’ you ask.  Well, that may be a thing, but it’s nothing to me.  Hah, I crack myself up.  Something about the crisp yet juicy flesh of a good apple seems counterproductive when paired with the salty slickness of peanut butter.  The two practically separate in my mouth, leaving me wondering why I didn’t just pick one or the other.

Baking apples and peanut butter together is perfectly acceptable, but only because both parties lose the inherent qualities that make them like matter and anti-matter in my mind.  Ugh, all this talk of apples makes me crave fall.  Is it September yet?

Ok ok, I’m getting to the cake already.  We’ve got caramel, bananas and peanut butter all wrapped up into one shiny package.  How can you say no to that?

I had been waiting to make this cake ever since I bookmarked it, and I was pleased with the result.  For some reason, my first batch of caramel seized like crazy, but the second one was fine.  The cake is dense and moist, and the bananas smothered in their caramel casing are sweet, but not overly so.  Very scrumptious, and highly recommended.

Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Cake

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes one 8” cake (about 10 servings)

For the caramelized banana layer:

2 medium ripe, but firm bananas, peeled and sliced into ¼” thick pieces

1/3 cup sugar

¼ tsp white vinegar

¼ cup heavy cream

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

1 medium banana

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup peanut oil

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line or grease an 8” round cake pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, spread the sugar in an even layer and drizzle 1 Tbsp of water over it.  Cook, without stirring, until it begins to bubble.  Swirl the pan periodically for even heating.  Continue to cook until the sugar liquefies and turns golden amber.  Remove pot from heat and carefully pour in cream while stirring constantly.  Add sliced bananas and return caramel to the heat for 20 seconds.  Pour bananas and caramel evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add the bran left in the sieve from the whole wheat flour.  Whisk it all together to blend evenly; set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana.  Whisk in the brown sugar until there are no lumps.  Whisk in peanut butter until smooth.  Add the egg and whisk until blended.  Whisk in oil, milk and vanilla until well incorporated.  Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour the batter over the bananas in the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes or so, then carefully invert the cake onto a platter.  Peel off parchment if you used it.  (I greased my pan with cooking spray and nothing stuck to the bottom.)  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Banana Bread Snickerdoodles

Heads up guys, this post is a wee bit introspective, so feel free to skip to the recipe.  For those of you still with me, I’ve been turning over a question in my mind recently.

That question is about voice.  Specifically, my voice and how I represent it here on Bashful Bao.  Sometimes I feel like my writing style is everywhere at once, but at the same time, I find it difficult to pick one mode of writing and stick to it.  There are times when I want to tell stories punctuated with phrases like oh-muh-gawd and other spelled-out colloquialisms, and there are times when I want to describe a dish to you in a manner that would speak to your inner foodie.

I can’t decide, so you guys are stuck with both.  Perhaps a blurring of the two is where my style lies, though it stills feels like I’m trying to figure it out.  Please bear with me folks, and in the meantime, enjoy some cookies.

I’ve made banana cookies in the past, but these are definitely my favorite thus far.  The ones I’ve made before were sometimes too soft, to the point where after a day, the outer layer of the cookie was so moist, it would come away if you touched it.  These, on the other hand, are moist but not excessively so, with a subtle banana flavor that tickles the palate.  I added cinnamon chips because, well, I like cinnamon with my bananas.  Feel free to add chocolate chips, or perhaps candied walnuts.

Banana Bread Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Mind Over Batter

Makes over 4 dozen cookies (feel free to halve this recipe)

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

large pinch of nutmeg

3 medium sized very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp banana syrup (from reduced banana juice)

 For the sugar topping:

½ cup light brown sugar

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

      In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, spices and set aside. Place sliced bananas in a microwave safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and make several slits in the wrap. This will allow steam to vent. Microwave on high until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the bananas to a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl and drain, stirring and mashing the bananas with a fork to release the liquid. You are going to end up with a bit less than ½ cup of liquid, and about ¾ cup of banana puree. Transfer the banana puree to a small bowl and set aside.

Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook until the liquid is syrupy and reduced to about 2 Tbsp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the liquid to cool.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugars and the banana puree and mix until well combined. Add the egg, vanilla extract and banana syrup.  Carefully add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients about one cup at a time. Mix just until incorporated after each addition. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and brown sugar.

Remove cookie dough from refrigerator, and using a large spoon, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar, making sure the dough balls are well coated. Place sugar-coated dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a glass with a flat bottom or your palm to flatten the balls. If desired, sprinkle additional sugar on the flattened cookies.

Bake the cookies for 10-14 minutes, or until they are slightly firm to the touch.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely and enjoy!


The Best Banana Bread

I love food that’s served with a story.  Not that everything needs a story.  Sometimes the idea you have for that new brownie-peanut butter cookie-banana cream pie hybrid recipe is just as inspiring as that shabby old note card for bean dip that’s been passed down on your mother’s side for eight generations.

Not the prettiest, but trust me, it’s soooo delicious.

Don’t worry, this post is not about bean dip from the 18th century.  I highly doubt they had bean dip back then anyway.  At least, my Eastern European ancestors probably didn’t.

This post is about banana bread.  There is a literal myriad of banana bread recipes out there, and every time I come across one, I calmly read it, appreciate it, and move on.  Because I’ve already got a fantastic banana bread recipe, courtesy of my mother.

This is the banana bread I grew up eating, whose smell could banish any amount of Saturday morning drowsiness from my sleepy head.  Now, it’s the banana bread that Luke calls his favorite, the banana bread we first made together in a tiny apartment kitchen back in college.

We bonded over this banana bread, a bond that led to a relationship, an engagement, and in a few months, a marriage.  Yes, it’s that good.  It’s a moist bread, with a tender, dense crumb bursting with banana flavor.  I’ve been tempted to add chocolate, nutella or peanut butter to this recipe to see what would happen, but as of yet, I have not had the courage to make such an alteration. Maybe someday I will.  And I will dub my new creation my own and serve it to my own sleepy-headed children.  Obviously, I’ve got quite a few years to perfect it!

Mom’s Banana Bread

Recipe via my mom

Makes two 9×5” loaf pans or 1 bundt/tube pan

(I like to halve the recipe to make one loaf pan)

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup buttermilk

6 small or 4 medium bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stir in the mashed bananas.

Pour batter into greased loaf pans or bundt/tube pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes for the loaf pans and 1½ -1 ¾ hours for the bundt/tube pan.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, invert and serve!


Chunky Monkey Biscotti

Biscotti are an underrated breakfast item.  Even me, the girl who adores the soft, chewy cookie above all else can see the merit in crunchy biscotti.

Especially if that biscotti involves chocolate, bananas or peanut butter…or all three in unison.

Maybe you want to make your mom something new and interesting for Mother’s Day brunch?  Though I really don’t understand the concept of Mother’s Day brunch since most people capable of making a decent brunch probably don’t live with their mom anymore, or have kids too young to do it properly.

I visited my mom a weekend too soon, so I’ll dedicate these biscotti to her, and all the awesome moms out there.

Chunky Monkey Biscotti

Adapted from Visions of Sugar Plum

Makes about 20 biscotti

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 medium banana)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper/silpat mat.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk in sugar and chocolate chips until combined. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together banana, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla until well combined. Stir in dry ingredients until well combined. Divide the dough and shape into two 10 x 4” logs on cookie sheet.  Wetting your hands will make this process much easier.

Bake for 30 minutes; cool 5 minutes before transferring logs to wire racks to cool an additional 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut logs diagonally into 1” thick slices. Place, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees; bake 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire racks and serve!


Banana White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Today is a very special Hop Day with Izzy, because it’s somebody’s birthday!!

I’ll give you a hint: it’s the birthday of someone in the photo above…who isn’t a rabbit.

Yes, it’s my wonderful fiancée Luke’s birthday today!!  Happy Birthday darling!

I bet you’re all wondering what I got him.  Technically I got him a new keyboard and mouse for his computer.  Technically as in, he found what he wanted, and I pressed the “purchase now” button.

Better to get him something he really wants than some weird trinket he’ll smile at and put in a dusty corner.  Oh, and I gave him food.  Lots and lots of food.

Specifically a big cake.  I had been asking him for weeks leading up to the big day about what he envisioned his birthday cake to be this year.  At first he said he wanted the Bananarrot cake I made to bring into the office for his dad’s birthday.

But I wanted to make something new!  So I nudged him a little.  And this beautiful cake was the result.  A luscious banana layer cake filled with creamy white chocolate mousse and top topped with white chocolate cream cheese frosting.

I was interested to see how the white chocolate and banana would work together, and it seems they complement each other quite nicely.  I am very pleased with this creation, and look forward to later today, when I bring in some other goodies to celebrate his birthday at the office.

Banana White Chocolate Mousse Cake

Mousse adapted from Evil Shenanigans

Cake adapted from The Pastry Affair

Makes a 2 layer 8” layer cake

 For the mousse:

1 cup milk, 2% or whole
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
3 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp cold water
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 oz white chocolate, chopped

2 ½ cups powdered sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

First make the mousse as it needs time to chill.  In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cornstarch, sugar, and egg yolk.  Whisk until well mixed.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens and comes to a simmer, about 5-10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the vanilla, butter, and white chocolate.  Stir until completely melted then pour the mixture through a strainer into a separate bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least four hours, or overnight.

In a small bowl combine the gelatin with the water.  Let stand for ten minutes to bloom.  Once bloomed melt in the microwave for ten seconds.  Let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl combine the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until it thickens.  Gradually pour in the gelatin while still beating.  Beat until it forms medium peaks.  Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate base in three additions.  Cover and chill for one hour.

To make the cake, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease 2 8-inch round baking pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the bananas and vanilla extract.

Alternatively add and beat in the flour mixture and buttermilk in 5 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Pour batter evenly between prepared baking pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from cake pans. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.  Melt the white chocolate either over a double boiler or in 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between zapping.  Once the chocolate is melted, stir it into the cream cheese mixture and stir well to combine. Add in the powdered sugar in one cup intervals, mixing well between additions.  Finally, stir in the vanilla extract.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a serving plate.  Scoop out about two cups of the chilled mousse and spread it evenly over the layer.  You will have leftover mousse, and it’s quite tasty on its own.  Place second layer on top and press down slightly.  Frost the outside with the cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.  Store cake in the refrigerator until serving time, then store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.


Roasted Banana Ricotta Scones

I enjoy scones very much.  Bananas too.  Especially when they’re roasted.

Since neither Luke nor myself drinks milk, I tend to buy it a quart at a time.  Sometimes I use it quickly, other times not so quickly, and when it’s all used up and I can’t make muffins or pancakes, scones are my go-to breakfast.

Though I might have planned to make scones anyway and intentionally used the milk in other things.  Yes…I plan out how I use milk.  Is that weird?

Sometimes I forget what month it is and accidentally buy milk that expires in 3 days.  An entire fridge shelf devoted to pudding usually ensues. Luckily, this was not one of those weeks (or unluckily).

These scones are more like sweet drop biscuits that traditional scones, since you spoon out the batter instead of forming a dough and cutting rounds or triangles from it.

They are softer than traditional scones too, somewhere between scone and muffin, and I liked it.  I didn’t like that the glaze was wayyy too thick.  It was like sweeter peanut butter, so I opted to eat it with a spoon rather than spread it on the scones, except for the one in the pictures.  If you make it, I would suggest adding milk a little at a time until it thins to your desired consistency.

Roasted Banana Ricotta Scones

Adapted from Mississippi Kitchen

Makes about 12 scones

For the scones:

3 bananas, sliced

2 Tbsp melted butter

2 Tbsp light brown sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

2 large eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg, beaten

For the glaze:

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

milk as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place bananas in a medium baking dish. Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar and bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bubbly and caramelized.  Let cool.

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or line with silicone mats.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and light brown sugar.  Cut in butter, using fingertips or pastry cutter, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium bowl, beat together 2 eggs, the ricotta cheese, and the roasted bananas with a handmixer until mixed.  The mixture will be lumpy.  Add banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined

Drop dough into 12 equal mounds on baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Brush tops with the beaten egg.   Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

About 5 minutes before scones come out of the oven, make the glaze.  Place the peanut butter and butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring often until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add milk gradually and stir until the glaze thins out.

When scones come out of oven, place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet.  Drizzle with the glaze and serve.


Banana Pudding Ice Cream

Is it just me, or are bananas the awkward child of the fruit group?  Most other fruits contain lots of water, but bananas are off in their own world, doing their own super starchy thing.  Like growing upside down.  I didn’t really believe that was true until I saw it for myself in Taiwan.

Bunched up unripe bananas look like little alien pods.  Weird.  But don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy bananas.  One of my favorite snacks is a banana with peanut butter.  Luke and I bonded over making my mom’s banana bread, (which he loves).

Bananas and I are definitely buddies.  I mean, my name rhymes with them, so there’s got to be some kind of connection.

When I made this ice cream, I was worried the flavor of the banana might get wonky because of the freezing process.  Although the ice cream turned a slightly grayish color (which is normal because of oxidation, like apples turning brown), I could not be more thrilled with the taste.

Smooth, creamy, with just the right balance of sweetness and banana flavor.  There were even little pieces of frozen banana that managed to remain intact through my vigorous mashing.  Gotta love that resilient banana spirit.

Banana Pudding Ice Cream

Adapted from Bella Eats

Makes about 1 quart

5 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

pinch salt

1 cup whole or 2% milk

2 cups heavy cream, divided

1 tsp vanilla

4 very ripe bananas, mashed or puréed

1/2 cup vanilla wafers, broken to small pieces but not crumbs (I used sugar cookies)

 In a medium-size bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt, and set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk and 1 cup of the cream until little bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove from heat and add to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 170˚. The mixture will coat the back of a spatula.

Pour custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Add the remaining cup of cream and the vanilla, and stir to incorporate. Add the puréed banana and stir to combine.  Let the mixture come to room temperature.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  This can be done overnight.

The next day (or 8 hours later), pour the mixture into the frozen bowl of your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. As you transfer the ice cream to its long term container, stir in the crumbled cookie bits.