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Banana Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

 It’s wickedly caloric but wickedly good. I’m blaming it all on a snowstorm and that salted caramel sauce I saw on Stacey Snacks’ blog. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 I had just come in from shoveling the driveway for the umpteenth time this year and although it was cold outside, I had worked up a sweat and was craving ice cream. All I had was plain vanilla, but to dress it up, I could quickly whip up a caramel sauce. Never mind that there are a gazillion calories in caramel sauce (not to mention ice cream). Hey, I deserved it after all the shoveling this season.
Fast forward two days later when I had baked a banana cake for my Italian chit chat group. Not just any banana cake, but really the best banana cake I’d ever tried. It’s from my friend Jan, who gave me the recipe decades ago when our kids were babies. Over the years, I lost sight of it and finally took the time to scrounge through stacks of old recipes to find it. I could have made the buttercream frosting that came with the recipe – delicious in its own right. But with the extra caramel sauce that was too much of a temptation for my weak resolve, I used it instead in a frosting, incorporating a bit of leftover cream cheese too and sharing the caramel goodness (and calories) with a bunch of other women.
Now you can enjoy it too. Just make sure you balance the calories with some jogging – or snow shoveling – which shouldn’t be a problem with a lot of winter still ahead of us.

Jan’s Banana Cake
printable recipe here

2 eggs
2/3 c. softened butter
1 t. vanilla
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/4 c. mashed very ripe bananas (about 2)

crushed walnuts for decorating the sides of the cake

Grease the bottom and sides of two layer cake pans and line with greased waxed or parchment paper. Beat the first four ingredients together until smooth. Combine the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternately with the buttermilk and banana. Pour and spread in the prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees until centers are set – about 20 to 25 minutes. when cold, fill and frost with either rich butter icing or the cream cheese caramel frosting. Decorate the top with a little of the reserved caramel sauce, and press crushed walnuts onto the sides of the cake.


Rich Butter Icing  (a delicious recipe, and the original one that Jan uses, but I used the cream cheese caramel frosting instead)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 T. cream

Cream Cheese Caramel Frosting

6 oz. – 8 oz. softened cream cheese (a typical bar of cream cheese is 8 oz., but I had already eaten some, so I used only what was left – 6 oz. – and it was fine)
1/2 cup butter
1 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup caramel sauce (below)
Beat the cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and caramel sauce until smooth. Spread on interior layer of cake, then on the sides and top of cake.

After incorporating the 1/2 cup caramel sauce into the frosting, you’ll have enough caramel sauce left over to drizzle over the top of the cake too. Drizzle in concentric circles, then run a toothpick or knife through the circles at equal distances. You might need to reheat the sauce a bit to make it pourable

Salted Caramel Sauce (from Bon Appetit):

1/4 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (not regular salt)

In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the water and sugar on medium boil until turning golden, 8-10 minutes.
You can scrape the brown bits on the sides of the pan down with a wet pastry brush.

 

Take the golden liquid off the heat and carefully add in the cream, it will bubble and boil, so be careful not to splatter yourself.


Place back on the stove and stir for 2 minutes.

Add in 3 tbsp butter and salt and cook another minute or two until the butter and mixture is nice and smooth.

Transfer to a heat resistant vessel, and place in the fridge to cool. You can make the caramel sauce 5 days in advance.