Sunday, May 26, 2013
Flourless Banana-Chocolate Pudding Cakes with Whipped Coconut Cream
Sitting here, on this quiet Sunday evening, I find myself a little stuck for words. No, nothing horrible has happened (yippee!) in fact I'm on the cusp of something fantastic (I think!), though I don't want to spill the details just yet. Superstition and all that. And no, it doesn't involve a boy. This will continue to be a boy-free zone for a good while longer, though I can't remember the last time I shed a tear over the man who was so reckless with my heart. I'm guessing that's a good sign the heart is in repair, ready for it's final tune-up. Time really does have magical healing properties, doesn't it? As does chocolate. Both work wonders, in their own way. No. Good things are around the corner, I can feel it. Stay tuned for future developments. In the meantime, today I bring you banana-chocolate pudding cakes and a wee adventure on whipping coconut cream. Let's dive in, shall we?
I have a rather long title for such a little cake, no? I tried to leave out a noun, but decided in the end that they all stay. But don't let all of the words fool you - these darling little cakes are astounding in their simplicity and terrifyingly satisfying. Hovering somewhere in the land between mousse and sponge cake, they are not too sweet and yet have a rich chocolate flavour that satisfies any craving. This is a great recipe for bananas that have slipped by my "banana window". You know the ones. Spotty, dark, mushy. Terrible to eat like that, but perfect for desserts like this. Gather some good chocolate, both dark and milk, a few eggs, a can of coconut milk and you're set for an unforgettable banana-chocolate journey. And did you notice how there is no flour? Yes, this is a cake all of your GF friends can enjoy too. Let's go!
First off, melt some chocolate. Sara said to use a double a boiler, but I don't think it's necessary as long as you are vigilant about keeping the temp real low and stirring the chocolate real often. My kitchen is small and I hate having extra pots to wash. So there. Also, when it comes to mashing up your super ripe bananas, I mashed the hell out of them with a fork and still found pieces a bit too large for my palate, so I recommend using a food processor to beat them into oblivion. Though I do realize I've just contradicted myself about the too-many-dishes thing. I'm just not a fan of big banana bits in baking! But the food processor will take care of that. To proceed, just stir the mashed bananas with a very little bit of sugar, an egg, vanilla, salt and the melted chocolate. Beat egg whites until their are stiffly peaked and gently, and I mean gently, fold them into the chocolate mixture. Egg whites will create the lift the cakes need to rise, so don't beat the heck out of the batter or your cake will be a sad, deflated mess. And you don't want that. Portion into buttered ramekins, and set them inside a baking pan with water halfway up the sides. This, my friends, is a water bath, and will ensure your little cakes bake up moist and almost custard-like. Just 20 minutes is all it takes to bake. And you can proceed to the whipped coconut cream portion of today's program.
A little disclaimer *coconut milk needs to be refrigerated for at least one day to ensure good whipped results* and I found this out the hard way. Don't do what I do and skim a recipe. Read it in full before attempting. Why don't I listen to myself more? Anyway, this whipped coconut cream is fabulous. And a great alternative to those who are vegan or can't eat dairy. Why should they miss out on the fun too? Be sure to use coconut milk with a heavy, thick coconut cream layer. The first part of my tribulations was that my brand wasn't quite so thick and heavy. It had medium thickness, but I figured it would be okay. I also only refrigerated the can for 2 hours, so that was a problem too. But like a genuine Taurus, I proceeded anyway. I whipped, well the KitchenAid did the all of the work, that coconut cream, and yet no thickness was achieved. It was too soft to top my pretty cakes with. But tasted delicious. So, I figured if I refrigerated the delicious mess I created maybe it would become thicker if chilled. I poured the softly whipped coconut cream into a tall water glass and let it sit over night. Lo and behold, the next day it was thick and perfect. The liquid had sunk to the bottom and all of that coconut cream goodness was thick and rich on top. Perfect for dolloping on the pudding cakes. So my lesson to you is this. Refrigerate the can of coconut milk, and be sure to purchase a brand, like Thai Kitchen, that does not have a lot of sloshing going on inside it - that means it's all liquid, and you don't want that. For a fabulous whipped coconut cream tutorial, head over to Oh Lady Cakes. That being said, if whipping coconut cream seems like too much work, by all means go the dairy route and whip heavy cream with a little sugar and cinnamon and it will be just as delicious on top of these pudding cakes. Given their intense chocolate and banana flavour they do benefit to having a creamy counterpart.
And...just like that I seem to have come un-stuck. I love it when that happens. Enjoy your day my friends.
Flourless Banana-Chocolate Pudding Cakes with Whipped Coconut Cream
3 ounces (90 grams) good quality dark chocolate (60% - 72% cacao) chopped
2 ounces (60 grams) good quality milk chocolate, chopped
2 very ripe bananas (frozen and thawed okay)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 4 eight-ounce (250 ml) OR 6 six-ounce (180ml) ramekins with butter.
Combine both chocolates in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly with silicone spatula until melted and smooth. Let it cool slightly.
In a food processor, blend the bananas until smooth. (Or just mash really well with a fork - no chunks allowed!). Add the banana to a large mixing bowl along with the egg, vanilla, cane sugar, and salt. Gently stir in the melted chocolate.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whites into the chocolate mixtures with just a few stirs, so as not to deflate the whole batter. A few streaks remaining is fine. Divide the mixture amongst the ramekins and place in a 9x13 inch pan. Fill water halfway up the sides of ramekins and place in preheated oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes until top of cakes are set. Serves 4. Recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook. Serve with whipped cream, or whipped coconut cream.
Whipped Coconut Cream
1 can coconut milk (Thai Kitchen brand) refrigerated over night
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Remove the thick, top layer of coconut cream from can and place in a bowl. Reserve remaining coconut water for smoothies. Using a handheld mixer, beat the coconut cream for about 20 seconds or until liquid. Sift in the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Blend on high until thick and creamy - a few minutes. If cream is not as thick as you like it, pour into a tall glass and refrigerate. The top layer should get much thicker if let to sit for a few hours or overnight. Dollop on top of pudding cakes. Recipe from Oh Lady Cakes.