Chocolate, Banana, Salted Caramel and Peanuts

Chocolate mousse with banana cake, salted caramel cream, peanuts and baked chocolate meringues

As you might know, I sprained the back of my knee last week. It was hard to move around and I wasn’t in the mood for baking. The only thing I made all week were the lemon and olive oil madeleines that I gave away. That’s all. My brain was going a million miles an hour thinking about what I was going to make next but my body could not follow. So I waited a couple of days until I felt better and then the weekend came. Perfect timing.

The first morning cup of coffee tastes better on Saturday mornings for some reason. C. and I look forward to watching “At the movies with Ebert and Roeper”. Definitely my favorite show all week. I also know that on weekends, I will have another set of hands to help with “curly cues” because sometimes it is very hard to bake and especially photograph when you have a hungry little boy tugging at your leg. If this boy doesn’t turn out to be a cook, I’d be very surprised!

So I was really wanting to invest some time in the kitchen this weekend. I wanted to make something with lots of components, flavors and textures. The freezer was going to be my friend.

The cake is best when it has sat at room temperature for a few minutes

It really becomes very, very creamy

This cake is really not very complicated to make but it does require time. But let me tell you, it is well worth it. As C. said, the best dessert I have made in a long time. And if I may say, I agree with him. Creamy, crunchy, sweet, bitter, salty. All in one.

The filling is a thin slice of banana cake, a thin layer of salted caramel cream and salted peanut powder. I made the banana cake in my small rectangular loaf pans and then cut thin slices and out of those thin slices, I cut circles using a cookie cutter. Separately, I made a salted caramel cream. Poured this into a silicon mini muffin pan, topped it with salted peanut powder and placed the banana cake circle on top. The muffin pan goes in the freezer until it hardens. This will allows to place the filling inside the chocolate mousse in one block and keep a perfect shape. This is how you obtain perfectly straight lines inside the mousse.

I used a very simple chocolate mousse recipe that can be whipped up in 10 minutes. Literally. I lined my aluminum ring molds with parchment paper. The mousse is placed in a pastry bag and some of it piped into the mold. Then the frozen filling is inserted, some more mousse piped on top, another layer of filling and finished with some more chocolate mousse. The ring molds are then placed into the freezer so the mousse hardens completely and is easy to remove.

The cake is finished with baked chocolate meringue sticks. When I make baked meringue, I tend to bake different shapes because they make great cookies. I will be making some milk jam later on this week and will sandwich some of the chocolate meringue cookies with some creamy, super sweet milk jam. I can’t wait!

So here are all the recipes step by step. I wish I had another person working with me so they could take photographs while I bake and then I could post step by step photos. For now, it’s impossible. It would take me forever to do both.

Chocolate Meringue

150 grams organic egg whites
150 grams sugar
150 grams powdered sugar, sifted
25 grams good quality cocoa powder (I used Valrhona), sifted

Whip the egg whites until they are almost fully whipped. Slowly start adding the granulated sugar while the mixer is still running. Whip until we obtain a shiny, stiff meringue but make sure not to overwhip or it will dry out.

Sprinkle a third of the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and fold with a spatula. Repeat until all the powdered sugar and cocoa powder have been folded in.

Place meringue into a pastry bag with number 4 pastry tip and pipe lines onto a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 200 degree oven for an hour. Let the meringues cool and then, store them in an airtight container until ready to use.

Banana Cake

makes 3 small loaves

300 grams organic ripe bananas, pureed
250 grams sugar
3 organic eggs
200 grams sunflower oil
200 grams unbleached all purpose flour
4 grams sea salt
4 grams aluminum free baking soda

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and whisk until all the flour is incorporated. Divide the batter into 3 small loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees until done. Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to test for doneness.

Let the cakes cool. Take one of the loaves, and cut into 2 mm slices. With a cookie cutter that is the same diameter that your mini muffin pan cavities, cut circles out of the banana cake slices. Set aside until ready to assemble.

Caramel Cream

Makes enough to fill a mini muffin pan that has 8 cavities

120 grams organic heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split
30 grams sugar
2 organic egg yolks
1/2 sheet of gelatin
1 tsp sea salt

Roasted and salted peanuts, powdered or finely chopped

Sprinkle the sugar on a small saucepan. Make a dark caramel with the sugar. Add the vanilla bean and the cream that we have previously warm up. The caramel will bubble up when we add the cream so make sure to be careful not to get burnt and whisk constantly.

Temper this mixture into the egg yolks. It will be so hot and the amounts we are working with are so small, that there is no need to return this mixture back to the heat. The temperature of the caramel will pasteurize the egg yolks.

Add the softened gelatin to the base and strain the whole thing through a fine sieve.

Pour this into the mini muffin pan. We want to have about 4 mm high of the cream. then we will sprinkle some powdered peanuts on top of the cream and we will place the slices of the banana cake on top. The whole thing goes in the freezer until we are ready to assemble the cake.

Chocolate Mousse

makes enough for 4 ring molds

150 grams 70% chocolate, melted
450 grams organic heavy cream, whipped to soft peak.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Remove from the heat. Add a third of the soft peak whipped cream to the chocolate while whisking. Work quickly so the chocolate doesn’t set too fast. Add the rest of the cream but this time fold using a spatula.

Now that we have the mousse made, we should assemble the cake. If we transfer the mousse to the refrigerator, it will harden too much and we will not be able to pipe it as smoothly into the ring molds. So have all your components ready to go. Mise en place people, mise en place!

Assemble the Cake

Cut parchment paper strips that will fit the inside of your ring molds and line the molds with the paper.

Place the rings on top of a sheetpan lined with parchment or a silicon mat.

Pipe some mousse inside each one of the molds. Insert the filling disks inside each mold. Top with a little bit more mousse, another disk of the filling and top with some more mousse.

Flatten the top of the mold eliminating any excess mousse. We want a flat and smooth top.

Place these in the freezer to set. When they are frozen, push the mousse out of the mold and place it on your plate or cake board. We are going to let them thaw out at this point so remember that once thawed out, they will be hard to move to another plate.

When they are softer, place the baked meringue sticks all around and top with broken pieces. Serve right away so the meringues don’t become too soggy.

This is what happens when you try to photograph cakes in the middle of the afternoon!!!


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41 Responses to “Chocolate, Banana, Salted Caramel and Peanuts”

  1. Cakelaw says:

    Wow, this looks devine – like a massive chocolate bar! Sorry to hear about your knee – hope it mends soon.

  2. M says:

    Looks great!
    I’ve been readng your blog for a while and really enjoy it. Lovely bloh, I think you’re talented.
    Keep it up! :)

  3. Ok, So please tell me that this was part of April’s Fools Day and you bought the whole thing ;-).

    Just kidding, but I am stunned with admiration how you pull all this off with your little guy pulling on your leg.
    Perfect! What an inspiration. I think my last multi-component dessert must have been sometime in 2007 – oh my, life has changed! Thanks for sharing and shoving some motivation north to NY.

  4. Lore says:

    Such a complex dessert! It sure doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen before but it does look great!

  5. Belle says:

    When I first say your cheesecake balls, I was smitten. Now you’ve used salted caramel – be still my pounding heart! Keep up the great work, love it.

  6. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone!

    cakelaw- my knee is much better. it just feels sore as if i had run the NYC marathon!

    M- thanks for finally leaving a comment. I love it when readers talk to me.

    Sweet Tooth- do you have a blog? couldn’t open your profile. yes, it’s challenging to bake around the little one!

    Lore- i’m glad you were surprised. it seems complex but really, the flavors are very comforting.

  7. mayasmom says:

    What a beautiful dessert! I’d love to make this for my next big family dinner. I have two questions — Is peanut powder something you buy or make? If you make it, how do you keep it from turning into peanue butter? Also, about what size are your ring molds? I love reading your blog — so beautiful and inspirational!

  8. Aran says:

    Belle- thank you! i love salted caramel too!

    Mayasmom- peanut powder is just roasted and salted peanuts ground up very finely. In this case, I just chopped them myself with a chef’s knife but very fine. For a larger quantity, I would just use a food processor but be careful not to turn it into a paste like you said. You could leave larger pieces of peanuts, that’s up to you, whatever texture you like. But I thought that with the crunch of the meringue, I didn’t want to find large chunks of peanuts in the mousse. Just s finer crunchy texture. Does this make sense?

    Thanks for the kind words!

  9. chriesi says:

    WoW! It is totally beautiful!

  10. Astrid says:

    What an original, beautiful cake! Did you create it?
    Your son is adorable!
    And I hope your ankle is better. I can imagine how scary it must have been to fall in the middle of the night holding your child.

  11. linda says:

    very beautiful! I especially love the colours, they look so antique or something.
    And obviously it has to be delicious as well with all of those delicious ingredients!
    Hope your knee is ok now…

  12. Linda says:

    such a talented photographer, and baker! i love your blog. so glad to have found you. this cake looks amazing!

  13. A. Grace says:

    outstanding eye candy! i’ll bet it doesn’t taste too shabby either. :)

  14. Veron says:

    this is simply gorgeous aran, what a beautiful and yummy piece of art.

  15. Peabody says:

    That is seriously a work of art!

  16. Aran says:

    Astrid- yes, I did create it and no, it’s not an April Fools Day prank. I wish I was that witty!

    Linda- thanks for asking about my knee. It feels much better but still limping a little.

    A. Grace- It tasted sooo good. My husband absolutely loved it!

    Thank you everyone!

  17. Deborah says:

    What a gorgeous cake – a true piece of art!

  18. Tell me again, why you don’t have your own patisserie?!

    MARVELOUS!!!

    I’ll fly over to Florida any ol’ time and play food photographer!

  19. Aran says:

    Thanks Mevrouw! It’s too much work to run a pastry shop! I enjoy changing everyday and the freedom of doing it whenever I want. That’s why I left the professional kitchen. this is heaven!

  20. Okay…so I think this is my favorite recipe so far too! I really, really need to find time to try this one out! Amazing as always Aran!

  21. Ann says:

    Aran, that is just amazing! So beautiful! So TASTY-sounding!

  22. B says:

    I’ve been following the blog from the beginning and thid dessert really gets top points! All that chocolate in different shapes, textures and flavours. It’s really one of the most impressive desserts I’ve ever seen! Well done!

    Moreover I love the little interactive square with changing pictures of your desserts. It`s really nice and shows how much you care about this blog and your always present perfectionism. Congrats! LIKE ALWAYS!!

  23. Y says:

    Aran, it sounds so delicious! I love the combination of salted beanuts, banana and chocolate. Not something I would bother making at home, I must confess, but would certainly pay money for! :)

  24. cookworm says:

    Wow, Aran, you might have outdone yourself with this one! Not only gorgeous, but I can imagine how amazing it must taste. I love each of your posts, they’re always so inspiring! :)

  25. Tea says:

    Oh my goodness, how impressive–and delicious looking! Sorry to hear about the leg (I can’t believe you did this while injured!). Hope you feel better:-)

  26. Rachelle says:

    Wow that is impressive! Beautiful!
    I can so relate to you on photographing. Right when I get mine in focus, here comes little hands reaching for the plate or backdrop! lol

  27. bbaking says:

    Oh my goodness the most gorgeous looking cake, only topped by the even more gorgeous tester!

    It is such a clever idea!

  28. it already melted me as I look at it, the more I look the more liquified i am! lol!

  29. giz says:

    Do you actually dream these recipes up? I just can’t even make an intelligent comment about how beyond fabulous this looks.

  30. Suzana says:

    ohhh, how cute!! And the cake looks stunning, Aran. Hope you’re feeling better. :)

  31. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone!
    Giz- yes, unfortunately sometimes I cannot make my brain stop. It’s constantly thinking about new recipes, new ways to style food. I’m crazy!

  32. This is just breathtaking, Aran! It really is a work of art. It would take me two weeks to put something half that special together!

  33. mimi says:

    wow just the name of this dessert makes it sound amazing, but your photos show it off so beautifully!

  34. Cakespy says:

    Aww, he’s the money shot at the end!! The cake looks gorgeous. Even if you’re not working at those shi-shi restaurants at the moment, your recipes are still reflecting an otherworldly, wow-this-day-is-special sort of amazement to these Cake Gumshoes! :-)

  35. C.L. says:

    I am not sure what looks sweeter, the cake or your boys sweet cheeks….Oh you just wanna suck em up like jello!!!!! Sorry, I had to have a moment…ya know? Beautiful cake, beautiful baby. You are a lucky woman :)

    Carrie

  36. Sprained knee…whatever! I cannot imagine what you do when you are 100% healthy! Ha! This just looks marvelous, too good to be true. I still cannot comprehend how you actually made it, it sounds like a bit of a puzzle to me. The parts all sound tasty and if I am patient, maybe I will convert some of the recipes to make them separately. Maybe I will make my own puzzle. :)

  37. Very nice cake! Don’t make the rest of us feel like shabby losers by admitting that you did this when not in top form!

  38. Iunia Boyce says:

    Your pictures of the cakes are beautiful yet your recipes are very hard to follow. I grew up in Europe my first 10 years of my life so I am used to european measurement. Baking is my hobby so I am not new to baking. I love to try challenging desserts. It seems to me that you are appealing to an american audience that uses ounces, cups, teaspoons. I don’t have anything in the house that measures 4 grams of salt. I have just tried the chocolate, banana, salted caramel and peanuts cake. I mostly bake for taste not eye appeal so I left out the meringue sticks. I have served the dessert to my family and friends. My two teenage boys said that the caramel cream was worst than medicine. All the people I served it to did not eat the caramel. Thank you for the pate a bombe recipe.

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