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Browned-Butter Banana Cake with Salted Dark Chocolate Ganache

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Serves 12 to 16

Toasty browned butter and salted dark chocolate icing transform a simple banana-nut cake into an unforgettable dessert. A few pinches of flaky sea salt on top are a clue to the cake’s secret ingredient.

For the cake
  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter; more softened for the pans
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups mashed very ripe banana (about 5 medium)
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
For the ganache
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. semisweet chocolate (55% to 65% cacao), chopped (3 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Flaky salt for sprinkling
Make the cake

In a 2-quart saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat, swirling every few seconds, until melted and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn dark brown, about 5 minutes. Immediately scrape the browned butter and milk solids into a shallow bowl. Refrigerate until softly set, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the mashed bananas and buttermilk.

In a large bowl, beat the browned butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer (hand-held, or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and alternately add the flour and banana mixtures in three additions each. Fold in the pecans with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, and smooth with the spatula. Tap the pans on the counter to break any air bubbles.

Bake the cakes, rotating and switching positions halfway through baking, until a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Make the ganache

In a 1-quart saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat, swirling every few seconds, until melted and the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn dark brown, about 5 minutes. Immediately scrape the browned butter and milk solids into a medium metal bowl. Add the chocolate and kosher salt.

Bring the cream to a boil in the same pot over medium heat, and then pour over the chocolate and butter. Let stand 2 minutes, and then whisk until smooth. Cool at room temperature, stirring every 15 minutes, until thickened and spreadable, about 1 hour.

Assemble the cake

Put one of the cake layers on a cake plate and top with 3/4 cup ganache, spreading it to the edge with an offset spatula. Add another cake layer and spread with another 3/4 cup ganache. Add the third cake layer and spread the remaining ganache over the top and side of the cake. Sprinkle the top with a few pinches of flaky salt. The cake will keep at room temperature, covered with a dome, for up to 24 hours.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 720, Fat (kcal): 47, Fat Calories (g): 420, Saturated Fat (g): 26, Protein (g): 9, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15, Carbohydrates (mg): 68, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 360, Cholesterol (g): 145, Fiber (g): 5,

Photo: Colin Clark

Moist lovely cake but not as flavorful as I expected. Might have been my bananas but I think a little vanila might be a good addition and I like the idea of the brown butter cream cheese icing for the center layers that another reviewer mentions.I do like that it's not so sweet. Definitely an adult-oriented cake which is a good thing.

Made this for a birthday party, and I think it turned out really well. The cake itself turned out beautifully - delicious and moist. I used some leftover browned butter cream cheese frosting for the filling (from the Fine Cooking pumpkin cake recipe) that I had in the freezer. The ganache took FOREVER to firm up and I ended up whipping it instead, which tasted fine but didn't look great. I will definitely make this again with a different frosting; a lot of my guests thought the chocolate did not go well with the banana cake, but that's probably personal preference and not any fault of the recipe.

This cake is fabulous, not too difficult and has a beautiful presentation. It will certainly become one of my "go to" special desserts

This was awesome! Actually forgot to sprinkle the salt at the end - no matter was delicious! Very dressed up banana cake. Took it to a party, lots of compliments❤️

Delicious cake. Needed to separate the eggs and whip the whites to lighten it a bit! Five bananas are HEAVY (but tasty). I filled between layers with mixture of half pastry cream, half creamy peanut butter. Had the layers been taller, might have split them and put some grape jelly in there! Yum! Frosted with standard butter-cream and decorations.

An excellent banana cake with decadent chocolate frosting-- I'm still unsure whether the salt takes it to a good new level, or is just a bit odd.

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