I decided to clean out my freezer yesterday. This was partially a result of the temperatures hitting a record setting 105 degrees, and the thought of doing anything outdoors, other than sitting perfectly still under a mister, which we don't own, seemed unbearable. The freezer had also reached maximum capacity, and I no longer had any space to place ziploc bags containing leftovers or my beloved quarts of Golden Spoon frozen yogurt. So, as you can see, I had a major crisis on my hands, which needed immediate attention.
Cleaning out the refrigerator is never a problem for me. I am the kind of person who throws out the milk as soon as it hits the expiration date and tosses the arugula the moment it begins to wilt. But the freezer, well, everything is frozen, so food can just sit there indefinitely without a friendly reminder in the form of an odd smell, to tell you that it is time to throw things out. So, when I do my occasional cleaning, I often find items that I've forgotten about, most of which are no longer usable, but a few of which still are. Yesterday, I found a big bag of peeled bananas, which I freeze when they start to become overripe, for use in future baking endeavors. This was definitely a sign that I needed to bake something banana flavored for today's post!
This cake makes me think of Ben and Jerry's popular Chunky Monkey ice cream, with its bittersweet chocolate chunks, walnuts, and of course the dominant banana flavor. By placing half of the streusel in the middle, and the other half on top, you get a double dose of flavor and texture. Mashed bananas and yogurt make the cake extra-moist. This would be great to serve as a dessert, during a brunch, or even as a rich breakfast cake. It also travels well for office parties and bake sales. Here are just a few extra tips for this nutty banana chocolate cake:
- Sour cream or buttermilk may be substituted for the yogurt in this recipe. Full-fat versions will result in the moistest cake; however, low-fat versions may be substituted. I would not recommend using the non-fat versions.
- Depending on how much banana mash the bananas yield, you may need to bake your cake a few minutes longer. Try to aim for about 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups mashed bananas.
- As my bananas start to brown, I like to peel them and freeze them in zip-top bags for recipes such as this one. Defrost the bananas at least 1 hour prior to use, and they should be very easy to mash by simply squeezing the bag. Another way to mash bananas is to place them in the work bowl of a food processor and then process until smooth. If you prefer small chunks of banana in your cake, then leave a few chunks in the mash.
- Experiment with spices if you like them in your desserts. Nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and extra cinnamon would all be delicious in this recipe.
- The recipe will keep well, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for 2-3 days.
Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cake
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons softened butter, plus 2 tablespoons, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar, divided
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick baking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy, and then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. Beat in the bananas until well combined, and then beat in the yogurt and vanilla. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the flour mixture, mixing until incorporated.
In a small bowl, toss together the chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, melted butter, and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Spread half of the banana batter in the cake pan and sprinkle with half of the chocolate mixture. Spread the remaining batter evenly over the filling and sprinkle the remaining chocolate mixture on top.
Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center emerges clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool cake in the pan for 30 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely, right-side up.