Banana cocoa cake with whipped ganache and pecan brittle recipe by Helen Goh | Easter

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Don’t feel you need to make all the components of this cake. Unadorned, it makes a satisfying snack – light enough for a lunchbox treat or a morning cup of tea. But with the ganache and pecan brittle, this is a cake worthy of a celebration. The brittle can be made up to two days in advance and stored in an airtight container. The recipe makes rather more of the brittle than you’ll need, but it is an addictive snack and you will undoubtedly be munching on it before it goes on top of the cake.

Serves 8
For the cake
milk 200ml
unsweetened cocoa powder 70g
instant coffee powder 2 tsp (optional)
ground cinnamon 1 tsp
over-ripe banana 260g (3 large)
vanilla essence 2 tsp
plain flour 330g
bicarbonate of soda 1½ tsp
baking powder ½ tsp
salt ½ tsp
unsalted butter 250g, at room temperature
caster sugar 150g
dark brown sugar 150g
eggs 2 large, at room temperature
egg white 1, at room temperature

For the ganache
dark chocolate 200g, chopped
double cream 250ml

For the pecan brittle
golden syrup 2 tbsp
caster sugar 1 tbsp
pecan halves 120g, roughly chopped
flaky sea salt ⅛ tsp

Begin by making the pecan brittle. Preheat the oven to 190C fan/gas mark 6½ and line a small baking tray with baking paper. Combine golden syrup and sugar in a small saucepan, and stir gently over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved – about 2 minutes. Fold in the pecans and sea salt until combined, then remove from the heat and scrape on to the lined tray. Bake for about 8 minutes until golden and bubbly, then remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray. When the brittle is completely hard, roughly chop or bash with a rolling pin to break it up into irregular pieces. Store in an airtight container until needed.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 175C fan/gas mark 5½. Grease and line a 30cm x 22cm baking tin with baking paper, then set aside.

In a small saucepan swirl the milk gently over medium heat. When small bubbles begin to appear around the edges (just before it starts to boil), remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder, coffee and cinnamon. Whisk to combine, then set aside to cool and to allow the cocoa to “bloom” – about 10 minutes.

Mash the bananas to a smooth puree, then add to the cocoa mix with the vanilla essence. Fold to combine, then set aside.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a cake mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and creamy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Still on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the banana and cocoa mixture. Beat until smooth and combined, then scrape the batter into the prepared baking tray.

Place in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely before turning it out on to a serving plate or board.

While the cake is in the oven, make the ganache. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When small bubbles appear at the edges (just before it starts to boil), remove the pan from heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Allow it to sit for 1 minute, then stir to combine. Cool slightly, then press some clingfilm on to the mix and place in the fridge until needed.

When ready to serve, use a hand whisk to whip the ganache until it is light and creamy (if it has set very firm, you may find it easier to whip the ganache with the whisk attachment in the cake mixer). Spread the whipped ganache thickly all over the top of the cooled cake, then sprinkle liberally with the pecan brittle.

Helen Goh is a recipe developer and co-author of Sweet (Ebury, £27)


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