I've had an impossibly busy last few weeks—shoots, travel, prep, more shoots. Last Tuesday, I returned from a week-long trip at 3:00am. Eager to make the most of my "day off," I promptly woke up 4 hours later, went to yoga, spent hours sifting through receipts and Excel spreadsheets, trying, in vain, to get my life in order. When I walked in the door at the end of the latest long day, I realized that the carefully applied triple layer of concealer had all been for naught: Madame Tussauds' wax couldn't hide these skim milk blue under-eye circles and jaundiced pallor. But the show must go on.
I'll admit that many of my cakes are unapologetically complex—multiple layers, long lists of ingredients, candy thermometer-required meringue-based buttercreams. But, on these days of exhaustion, I'm prone to mixing up simpler batters that don't require a trip to the supermarket or the strength to drag my heavy KitchenAid stand mixer out. All I want is to have my cake.
Enter this chocolate banana cake: large bowl, whisk, ripe (in my case, forgotten and aggressively freckled in black) bananas, and done. The inspiration comes from other simple, mix-by-hand cakes I've published before, because, be you a bedraggled mess like me or a lazy lady or gent in search of instant gratification, this cake is just right, and no one needs to know what little effort went into it.
Start by dumping butter, cocoa powder, water, and espresso powder (for all mocha haters, the amount is just enough to bolster the cocoa, it will not impart distinctive coffee flavor) in a saucepan and cook just until melted: this method cuts out that annoying purgatory that is waiting for butter to come to whippable consistency. Combine dry ingredients, then stir in the chocolate mixture, plus the usual dairy ingredients. Bananas come into the mix coarsely mashed so the resulting cake is pudding-rich and moist, with small, soft morsels of ripe bananas. Chopped walnuts add a meaty bite, and the overall effect is that of a banana split in cake form (do add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you want the whole shebang).
Easy, peasy, no? And just the thing to get you out of your exhausted funk.