It was my birthday on Saturday, and I had an amazing day. I started the morning by opening the present Ben got for me, which was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer! I've wanted one for years, and finally feel like I count as a real food blogger now that I own one. I haven't used it yet because I have need to clear a special spot for it in the kitchen, but I've been peering into the box every few hours and just kind of smiling at it. After opening my mixer, I met up with a friend to go for a run, and then went home and moved a bunch of furniture and hung pictures with Ben. (Our landlords have been renovating our apartment, so we have a lot of rearranging to do. One secret about me is that I love organizing things around the house, even though I put it off like crazy and almost never do it. I am not at all sure why I dread it so much, because once I get started I really enjoy it. So, oddly enough, moving furniture and hanging pictures was one of my favorite parts of the day.)
My mom, Ben, and I went to dbar for dinner, which is within walking distance of our apartment and is one of my favorite restaurants ever. Pro tip: it starts gradually turning into a nightclub around 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. I've never been able to convince anyone to stay with me for that phase, but we got to witness the beginning of the transformation last night: one of the waiters walked by, casually pushed a button on his bracelet, and made a screen drop from the ceiling. No big deal.
Also, my dinner was amazing. I got pan-fried grouper, which came with pickled watermelon radish, green garlic puree, a sweet potato latke, baby yellow carrots, and lemony frisée. I thought about it for a while, and I decided it's one of the best restaurant meals I've ever had. All the colors, flavors, and textures went together perfectly, and all the components were beautifully styled as well. We also shared a side of fiddleheads, which I love to order there every spring, and the soup of the day, which was sweet English pea with creme fraiche and bacon.
Since I wanted a grain-free and paleo-friendly cake for my birthday, I had to make my own. I had been perusing Kirstin's blog Troyers Loving Life since it was my May assignment for the Secret Recipe Club, and spotted a recipe for brownies that were made with pureed sweet potato. Kirstin had made them in a round pan, which gave me the idea of doing something halfway between a brownie and a flourless chocolate cake. Since the recipe only called for half a cup of all-purpose flour, it was a good candidate for a gluten-free conversion, and I just replaced the regular flour for almond flour and used a bit extra. I used mashed fried banana instead of the sweet potato, substituted raw honey for the sugar, made some honey whipped cream in lieu of frosting, and topped it all off with fried banana slices. (I also had a great time reading about Kirstin's adorable family and looking at some pictures of their puppy. So much fun!)
Guess what? This cake was a success beyond my wildest dreams! It's one of the best desserts I've ever made, and is so rich and satisfying. The cake itself does not taste much like banana (and even my banana-averse boyfriend loved it), but it does have a distinctive caramelized flavor and a nice hint of fruity sweetness. It's ridiculously moist, deliciously dense, and wonderfully chocolatey. The pillowy layer of whipped cream and slices of fried bananas elevate this dessert to something almost otherworldly. You really have to try it! I, for one, was extremely impressed with the flavor and texture, and cannot wait to go eat another piece as soon as I finish writing this post.
Fried Banana Brownie Cake with Honey Whipped Cream
Yield: 8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 1-2 hours cooling time
Cook time: 35 minutes
For the fried banana brownie cake (adapted from Troyers Loving Life):
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter or ghee, divided, plus more for greasing the pan
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee (not brewed coffee--just finely ground beans!)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup raw honey
1 large egg
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
For the honey whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon raw honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
For the fried banana slices:
1 teaspoon butter or ghee
1 ripe banana, sliced into rounds a little over 1/4-inch thick
To make the brownie cake, preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper, and thoroughly grease the paper and the sides and corners of the pan with butter or ghee.
Heat one teaspoon of butter or ghee in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. As soon as the butter is melted, add the mashed banana and raise the heat to medium-high. Fry the banana, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and beginning to caramelize, about five minutes. Measure 2/3 cup of the mashed fried banana and place it in a large bowl. (I immediately ate the remainder of the fried banana since there was only a bit extra, but you could also save it for smoothies.)
While the banana is still hot, sift in the cocoa powder. Melt the remaining four tablespoons of butter (you can do this in the pan you just used for the fried banana if you'd like), and add it to the bowl. Beat the banana, cocoa, and melted butter with a wire whisk or electric mixer until well-combined. Add the coffee, vanilla, salt, honey, and egg, and beat again. Finally, stir in the almond flour and baking soda.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool completely in the pan, then carefully slide a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it and invert it onto a plate. If you would like to speed up the cooling process, let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes, then stick it in the freezer for an hour or so. Freezing the cake briefly also helps it slice more cleanly. Serve the cake with honey whipped cream and fried banana slices (see instructions below), plain, or with vanilla ice cream.
To make the honey whipped cream, place the heavy cream in a large bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Add the honey and vanilla, then continue to beat until medium peaks form.
To make the fried banana slices, melt the butter or ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, raise the heat to medium-high and add the bananas in a single layer. As soon as the bananas are well-browned on the bottom, slide them onto a plate to cool. If you don't have the patience to wait for them to cool they may melt your whipped cream, but everything will still be delicious.
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