Chocolate and banana star in this pretty cake, which has a heart of chocolate genoise, hidden banana pieces, caramel, and ganache under a chocolate glaze spiked with teardrop-shaped pastilles of still more chocolate. Reserved caramel sauce is used to garnish the serving plates.
- Banana Simple Syrup
- Granulated Sugar - 3 tablespoons
- Water - 2 tablespoons
- Creme de banana liqueur - 1 tablespoon
- Eggs - 3 large
- Granulated Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Cake flour - 3/4 cup
- Unsweetened Cocoa - 1/4 cup, preferably Dutch process
- Cornstarch - 2 tablespoons
- Baking Soda - 1/4 teaspoon
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons, melted and cooled
- Granulated Sugar - 1-1/2 cups
- Fresh lemon juice - 1 tablespoon
- Light Corn Syrup - 1/2 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/4 cup
- Dark Rum - 2 tablespoons
- Bananas - 3 small, ripe but firm, peeled and halved crosswise and lengthwise into quarters
- Milk Chocolate Ganache
- Good Quality Milk Chocolate - 16 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1-1/2 cups
- Creme de banana liqueur - 1/2 cup
- Orange Oil - 1/4 teaspoon (optional)
- Chocolate Pastilles
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 6 ounces, chopped
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 2 ounces, in one or 2 pieces
- Chocolate Glaze
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 8 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3/4 cup
- Light Corn Syrup - 2 tablespoons
- Reserved caramel sauce
- Toasted coconut - (optional)
To make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar, water, and liqueur in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; cool completely.
To make the genoise: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Generously butter a 9-inch springform pan; dust with flour.Whisk together eggs and sugar in the stainless steel bowl of an electric mixer set over simmering water until the temperature reaches 110 F. Beat the mixture at medium-high speed until cooled and very thick, about 5 minutes. Sift together flour, cocoa, cornstarch, and baking soda. Gently fold into egg mixture. Fold in butter. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin metal spatula. Remove the rim of the pan and cool the cake completely. Using a long serrated knife, trim off the top of the cake, leaving an even, 1-inch thick layer of cake. Replace the rim of the springform pan. Brush banana simple syrup evenly over the cake.
To make the caramel: Combine sugar and lemon juice in a heavy 10-inch saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar melts, stirring constantly. When the sugar begins to brown, add corn syrup. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until caramel is deep golden brown and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Take care not to burn the caramel. Reduce heat to low; gradually add cream, stirring until blended. Stir in butter until melted. The mixture will be bubbly. Remove from heat; stir in the rum. Add bananas to skillet, turning to coat with caramel. When bananas begin to soften, about 2 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon and arrange over the cake covering one layer. Let cake and caramel stand at room temperature while preparing the ganache.
To make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil; pour over the chocolate. Stir gently and constantly until the chocolate is completely melted. Reserve 1 cup of the caramel for serving. Warm the remaining caramel and stir it into the chocolate. Stir in liqueur and, if desired, orange oil. Pour ganache over bananas, covering them completely and pressing them down if they rise to the top of the ganache. Cover and chill until set, at least 6 hours, or overnight.
To make the chocolate pastilles: Line two large cookie sheets with waxed paper; tape edges to hold in place. To temper the chocolate, place chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Place bowl in a larger bowl filled with very hot tap water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate is completely melted, add the remaining 1 or 2 pieces of chocolate. Stir until the temperature of the chocolate drops to 90 F. Remove any chocolate piece that is not melted as soon as the temperature reaches 90 F. Using an iced tea spoon or paper cone, drop small teaspoonfuls of chocolate onto waxed paper forming dime-sized chocolate drops. Before the chocolate sets, pull through the drops with your finger on one side to form teardrops, or pastilles. Place cookie sheets in refrigerator to set chocolate while preparing the glaze.
To make the chocolate glaze: Remove cake from refrigerator. Using a thin metal spatula, loosen the edges of the cake from the rim of the springform pan. Remove rim. Place the cake on a wire rack placed over a jelly roll pan. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Combine cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture over the chocolate. Stir gently and constantly until chocolate is completely melted. Pour glaze evenly over cake, smoothing top and sides with a long metal spatula and letting the excess drip into the pan (reserve for another use). While glaze is still wet, insert pastilles in concentric rows over the entire cake, “porcupine” fashion. Refrigerate cake until glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.
To serve: Cut cake into wedges and place on serving plates. Spoon reserved caramel sauce around the cake and sprinkle the sauce with coconut, if desired.