One of my favourite things in the world is baking birthday cakes for the special people in my life. A homemade cake is special on many levels, it’s a chance to make something truly unique and hopefully bring a big smile to their face, that’s the best part. It was my dear friend Denea’s birthday earlier this week, and I wanted to make her a cake that combined some of her favourite things – chocolate, banana, caramel and of course, peanut butter.
I’ve known Denea a little less than a year, but she has grown to become my partner in crime and one of my closest friends. Together we launched a magazine, which is a huge achievement in itself. It’s a special thing to have such an amazingly smart, talented, driven, individual, beautiful and downright hilarious woman as a part of my life. She’s the kind of girl who keeps no less than four kinds of salt on hand but can’t find a lighter for her own birthday candles. She’s a keeper.
The bottom layer of the cake is a chocolate and peanut butter brownie, topped with caramel bananas spiked with vanilla bean. The top layer is a milk chocolate mousse, which isn’t too rich or too sweet. While there are a few components to this dish, it’s not difficult to prepare, especially if you split it over two days. I loved the way the cake turned out, the different flavours and textures complement each other beautifully, although I would use a little more peanut butter next time!
I’m happy to say that Denea loved her cake, especially the fact that she didn’t have to share it with anyone! Happy Birthday lovely, I hope the year ahead is filled with happiness and fun, and many more adventures!
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Cake
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Makes 2 x 20cm cakes or 1 x larger cake
• 200g butter
• 100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
• 3 eggs
• 210g caster sugar
• 100g plain flour
• 3 tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 100g brown sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
• 5 bananas, halved lengthways
Milk chocolate mousse
• 2 eggs
• 55g caster sugar
• 1 ½ leaves of gelatine (titanium strength), softened in cold water*
• 5g eggwhite powder*
• 600ml pouring cream
• 400g milk chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk eggs and caster sugar in an electric mixer until thick and pale, fold through chocolate mixture then fold in flour and peanut butter. Spoon into a buttered, baking paper lined springform pan (I used 2 x 20cm pans), smooth top and bake until just firm to touch (20-25 minutes) Cool completely in pan.
Heat brown sugar in a large frying pan over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes, until melted. Add vanilla seeds, stir to combine, then add bananas in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally until caramelised until tender (4-5 minutes). Arrange on top of the brownie, squash down to make a uniform layer then cool completely.
Meanwhile, for milk chocolate mousse, whisk eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until thick and can hold a ribbon (10-12 minutes), then remove front the heat. Squeeze excess liquid from gelatine and whisk it, along with the eggwhite powder into the egg mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form, add chocolate and fold to combine, then fold in egg mixture. Spoon mousse over caramelised banana, smooth top and refrigerate until set (2-3 hours).
*Egg white powder and gelatine leaves can be found in specialty food shops like David Jones Food Hall or Essential Ingredient.