Saturday, February 28, 2009

I baked you a cake, because...

Well, because I like you. And also because baking is such an orderly, precise thing. And everything else seems to be a little out of sorts around here.

Today, I went to gather my dirty laundry f
rom the hamper, and discovered with complete horror that its contents consisted almost entirely of pajama-like lounging-around-the-house clothes, and it occurred to me that I have only left the house a few times in the last four days. I'm not even entirely sure what season it is outside. Just today, I roused myself at the crack of noon to walk to the store for some provisions, and put on my favorite green sweater (the one with the hole in the elbow that people insist on pointing out to me, because they assume I must not know the hole is there, since I am wearing it in public, and then I have to be polite and not make things more complicated by telling them the hole has been there since 1998) and I even put on Uggs, but then I opened my front door and was smacked in the face by a sunny, 78-degree day. Apparently it's been warm and sunny for a week now. I wouldn't know, you see, because I haven't been out of my house much.

I have been lazy. Sloth-like. I'm pretty sure I've been committing at least two of the seven deadly sins. After spending the last year working on a new
show, meeting the man of my dreams, and planning a wedding with said man, I guess I just needed to do nothing for a few days. Plus, I'm leaving for a quick trip to Colombia in a couple days (mmm... carne asada! arroz con pollo! and fountains of coffee and rum!) so this was a precious week to do nothing.

And I went all the way. Last night I watched Mama Mia!, and then I watched the deleted scenes, and then the director's commentary. I didn't even like the movie that much. And just now, I read an entire play-by-play of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston's careful avoidance of each other at the Oscars.

Yeah. It's that bad.
So, I put down the magazine and baked you a cake!

I just happened to have some over-ripe bananas, and some leftover chocolate from the
chocolat chaud, and some walnuts that were begging to be used, and since you have been so nice to me with comments and messages (thanks mom!), I thought the least I could do was make you something sweet. So I decided on a Banana Chocolate Walnut cake, because I know how much you love bananas and chocolate together.

Even the dogs were excited about this cake.

(Paul took that picture, and I love it. The dogs have been on my mind a lot the last few days, because Chicago, the one with the adorable face in the background, hasn't been feeling so swell. Shame she can't eat chocolate, might cheer her up.)

With it's crumbly walnut, cinnamon and chocolate topping that melted on my fingers and transferred to my camera as I tried to take pictures for you, this cake is so gooey and delicious that I must stay in my pajamas and devour the entire thing over the next two days.
Now, if I were you, I would add more banana to this recipe. I always tend to feel like there's never enough banana in banana-based baked goods. I know you feel the same, because we are kindred spirits. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups, but I would encourage you to be bold and mash up at least an extra 1/2 a cup.

(On a side note, my husband and I bonded over a book about
bananas. It's a fascinating read, if you like that kind of thing, and it would go very nicely with this cake. So would a glass of cold milk.)

So, put on your pajamas and enjoy your cake. You deserve it, after all your hard work.

Chocolate Banana Walnut Cake

Adapted from Gourmet

2 1/4
cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, melted and cooled
cup sugar, divided
large eggs
1 1/4
cups mashed very ripe bananas (I recommend more)
cup plain whole-milk yogurt
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
(3 1/2- to 4-oz) bar 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Butter a 9-inch square cake pan.

Roast walnuts on a cookie sheet for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, then chop coarsely.

Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat together softened butter (1 stick) and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in eggs 1 at a time until blended. Beat in bananas, yogurt, and vanilla (mixture will look curdled).

With mixer at low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Toss together chocolate, nuts, cinnamon, melted butter, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Spread half of banana batter in cake pan and sprinkle with half of chocolate mixture. Spread remaining batter evenly over filling and sprinkle remaining chocolate mixture on top.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, right side up.

Eat in your pajamas while watching something cool and frothy on TV.


  1. I don't understand why this isn't in my mouth right now.

  2. I tried this recipe yesterday and it turned out to be really good! Although I didn't add the yoghurt. And I agree, you can never have enough bananas in this =)