Thursday, May 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Cake (and Crap-that-was-easy Vanilla Gelato)

Phew. It is cake week here in the Love-Smith house. I think I'm making up for not having baked anything in, like, a whole week by going all out. Last night, Irish car bomb cake....tonight, Elvis.

I believe I have mentioned before my deep, abiding love for peanut butter -- particularly in conjunction with bananas. Understanding that too much of this treat might leave me squeezed into an ill-fitting sequined unisuit, I thought a miniature sweet might be just the ticket.

Soooo...I took a banana cake recipe from Epicurious, threw in some chocolate chips, then topped it off with Ina Garten's p.b. icing. All divided by 17. Here's how it works:

Peanut Butter Banana Cake
(serves 2-3; start to finish, about an hour)

for the cake:
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cake flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup mashed banana
1 Tbsp buttermilk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 beaten egg or 2 Tbsp egg sub
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

for the icing:
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably natural)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Grease and flour a small pan (5-inch round worked well for me; 4-6 inch square would work too). In a small bowl combine flour through salt. In another small bowl, mix banana, buttermilk and vanilla.
  2. With a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add egg and beat well. Add remaining ingredients, alternating between dry and wet mixtures. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top, if using. Bake until cake begins to color and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, beat butter, p.b., sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until combined. Add milk and beat until smooth and fluffy.
  4. If your cake is on the thinner side, slice in half and make a tiny layer cake by spreading icing on middle and top (I didn't have enough for the sides, but if I had it may have been too much). If your cake is thick, just frost top and sides. Ta-dow!

Crap-that-was-easy Vanilla Gelato

Wanting something cool and smooth to cut the taste of the sure-to-be-rich cake, I scoured the net for a quick ice cream recipe that might just rely on that can of sweetened condensed milk I was stowing in my cabinet -- which would also cut out the time and patience that a custard ice cream would require. Based on my fridge and the various recipes I could cobble together, here's the quite successful result:

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (I used low fat)
1 cup light cream or half and half (fat free would be fine)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk it all together and throw it in your ice cream maker. So far (I started this whole process about 3 hours ago), the gelato is still soft-serve style, but I think a night in the freezer will firm it up good. Oh, and in case you're wondering, I'm calling it gelato because it relies on more milk and less cream, which is basically the difference between the Italian frozen treat and our American version (that, and a slower "churning" process which results in a denser, often richer-tasting product). This also means that, because of its make-up, gelato is better at warmer temperatures than ice cream. So, when it does firm up in your freezer, be sure to take it out 15-20 minutes before you plan to enjoy it, and stir it up good before serving.

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