Small Batch Baking – Banana Java Chocolate Chip Cake

“I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon.”
― Charlotte Brontë


Another summer long weekend is drawing to a close.  It was quite productive on my part.  Rejuvenating.  Spiritual. Peaceful.

I am quite excited.  I have developed an affinity for gardening and taking time to nurture my modest balcony garden has brought me much pride and enjoyment.  I am finally seeing some results.  I finally have a flower bloom, the first of about 5 to come.  Not really sure what it is though.  A surprise flower from a batch of seeds planted back in April.

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And I’ve tried my hand at growing herbs that I hope to use in my cooking at some point.  After a slow start and some mishaps – my attempt at basil failed after my little pot fell over and a strong wind carried off the contents of the pot – I finally have some parsley and dill showing. I’m hoping to use the parsley in my morning smoothies at some point and I cannot wait to use the dill on some salmon perhaps with some creme fraiche…

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On to my baking adventure.  Small batch baking is a terrific way to test out a recipe and satisfy a craving without producing dozens of end product.  Sometimes I don’t want a dozen muffins or a giant cake.  Today, I decided to try making a Banana Java Chocolate Chip Cake using a recipe from “Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers” by Debby Maugans with some slight changes on my part.

http://www.amazon.com/Small-Batch-Baking-Chocolate-Lovers-Maugans/dp/0312612249

This is essentially a muffin recipe that produces three jumbo muffins or 5 standard muffins.  I decided to make two mini cakes instead. This cake has a streusel topping and pairs bananas, nuts and chocolate together.

For the topping:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Pinch of cinnamon (I used pumpkin spice)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I went with 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

2 tablespoons milk or semisweet chocolate chips (I used chips)

Combine the ingredients together using your fingers until you get a crumbly mixture.  Set aside.

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For the cake batter:

1 really ripe banana

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp (I used 3 tablespoons of canola oil)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used all brown sugar)

1 egg, well beaten

1/2 teaspoon instant dark coffee or espresso powder (I used 1 teaspoon) because I like coffee

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup milk or semisweet chocolate chips ( I used chocolate chips)

1 tablespoon of buttermilk (I added this on my own)

I didn’t use a mixer and threw everything into one big bowl and mixed by hand.  If the banana is super ripe, everything mixes up into a nice thick batter.

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I used two mini spring form pans.  I probably should have lined them with parchment or at least greased them first, it would have been much easier to remove the cake after.  So, line your pans!  Divide the batter evenly.  Don’t forget to pre-heat your oven to 350.

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Remember the streusel topping?  Time to sprinkle it on top. I ended up adding more nuts and chocolate chips to each. IMG_8679 IMG_8682

These will need 15 – 20 minutes to bake.  If you like a crispy brown top, you can use your broiler for about 4 minutes to achieve that.  Make sure to watch it so the nuts don’t burn though.

End result: IMG_8683 IMG_8684 IMG_8689 IMG_8691

A nice twist on the typical banana muffin/loaf.  I loved the textures.  Soft, moist cake, sweet chocolate chips, nutty pecans, slight hint of coffee and crisp brown sugar streusel.  Just the perfect size too.  Enough to satisfy my sweet tooth without make me feel bad for doing so. =)

Milk Chocolate Coffee Cake

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.”
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Christmas has come and gone.  Here’s hoping you all have had a good holiday season so far.  I’ve been off work for a week now, with one more to go. I’m loving every second of it. It’s been an extremely low-key holiday for me.  It’s amazing what a person can do if given countless hours to do whatever they want.  I’ve been a bit of hermit this week,  spending my time watching movies and re-organizing my home.  After filling 10 garbage bags full of unused clothing and shoes, I’ve dared myself to stop any frivolous shopping in 2014.  I never keep my resolutions, so we’ll see what happens…

Shockingly, I’ve done very little baking during my time off.  I had a wicked craving for cookies so I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Aside from that, I’ve made this milk chocolate coffee cake for my mom.

Prep work first.  Melt some milk chocolate with about a tablespoon of butter over a double boiler. In this case I just used a Hershey chocolate bar.  Feel free to go dark or turn this into a marble cake and use some white chocolate.

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You’ll need about a tablespoon of coffee.

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And then line a loaf pan so that the cake won’t stick.

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In a mixing bowl, cream 3/4 cup of room temp butter and 1 cup brown sugar.

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Meanwhile, measure out the dry ingredients. 1 and 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup cocoa and 1 teaspoon baking powder.IMG_6631

By now, the butter and sugar should be nice and fluffy, begin adding 3 eggs, one at a time. IMG_6634 IMG_6636

Once mixed, add the flour mixture.  Mix.  Add the coffee. Mix. Then the melted chocolate. Mix.

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It will end up looking like this.IMG_6640

You can then pour this into the prepared loaf pan. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Voila!

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Let cool and then slice.  You’ll find this cake light and soft, milk chocolate flavour all the way throughout.  Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.  Or perhaps paired with some vanilla ice cream.  =)