- 1 ¼ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
CARAMEL ESPRESSO BUTTERCREAM
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 ½ cups pureed or well smashed very ripe bananas
- ½ cups sour cream
- 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 6 tablespoons safflower oil or neutral vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- Store bought banana chips
- 1 large egg white
- 1 ½ cups pecan halves
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and increase the heat to high.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin beating the eggs at medium speed. When the sugar syrup reaches 225 F on a candy thermometer, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 238 F.
- Remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer off, immediately pour about ¼ cup of the hot syrup over the beaten eggs. Beat at high speed for another 10 seconds. (Don’t worry if the syrup look like it has hardened, keep beating and eventually it will smooth out.) Turn the mixer off and add another ¼ cup syrup. Beat at high speed for another 10 seconds. Repeat this process until all of the syrup is used. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat at medium-speed until the egg mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes.
- At medium speed, beat in the softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla extract and coffee mixture, increase the speed a to medium-high, and beat the buttercream until it is smooth and shiny, about 4 minutes.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9 inch cake pans. Dust the pans with flour and tap out the access.
- Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the bananas with the sour cream; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the safflower oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar and beat at high speed until creamy and light, about 3 minutes. At medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract. At low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the banana mixture in two additions and mixing just until blended.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the pecans by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.
- Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs on it. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool completely.
- Set aside about 2/3 cup of buttercream for garnishing. Place one of the cake layers upside down on a cake board or cake plate. Using a small offset metal spatula, spread about 1 cup of the buttercream over the top of the layer. Top with the other cake layer, upside down. Spread the remaining buttercream over the sides and top of the cake. Place the reserved buttercream in a pastry bag with a medium star tip, and pipe rosettes or shells around the edge and top of the cake. Garnish with pecans and banana chips
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Lightly butter a baking sheet.
- Place the egg white in a medium bowl, add the nuts, and stir to coat the pecans evenly. Sprinkle over the sugar and toss the pecans to coat evenly with the sugar.
- Spread the nuts in an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake, tossing pecans twice, for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely.
- Store pecans in an airtight container at room temperature.
Store the frosting in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 hours, or refrigerate for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before using.