I've never been good at making things. I can't paint, draw, sculpt, or play the ukulele, no matter how hard I try.
I've been trying to find some deep-seeded artistic or musical talent ever since I was young enough to know what these things are. After making countless terrible paintings and amassing a ridiculous collection of musical instruments I can't play (and a pair of roller skates from the time I thought I could be a derby girl), I finally found something I was good at.
I'm good at baking. Or I at least just really, really enjoy it.
Growing up, my grandmother was always baking some sort of cake. I recall a lot of pineapple upside-down cakes gracing our counters as a child, but my earliest memory of her baking was this banana spice cake with walnuts and this cream cheese icing that I've yet to replicate to perfection.
I told her about remembering her banana cake, and how I was not yet as tall as our counter, but I could just see the top of the pan on my tippy toes. She'd let me lick the beaters after making the icing, which was great, but sometimes she'd even let me have whatever little was left in the mixing bowl, too. I usually let her get a lick of the beaters after I make buttercream these days.
It's been awhile since she's made the banana cake, but banana bread has been one of my frequent recipes, since my bananas start getting brown before I can remember to eat them.
I tweaked my recipe a bit to come up with a banana cake that could potentially rival hers, but still be my own.
What I came up with ends up being a cross between a chewy chocolate chip cookie and my banana bread. This is easily my favorite recipe right now.
You need this in your life. I promise. It comes with my grandma's stamp of approval, too.
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips—Milk, semi-sweet, or dark. Or all of them.
As many scoops of your favorite ice cream as you can handle.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
I generally bake this in a 9x13x2" sheet pan, which makes a pretty thick cake. You could also make it in 11x15" for a bit thinner cake.
1. Melt the two sticks of butter. Microwave or stovetop. Your choice.
2. Mix in brown sugar and vanilla and let it sit until it's cooled a bit. Two or three minutes. Catch up on a round or two of Draw Something. Want to be productive? Mash up your bananas with cinnamon and nutmeg in a smaller bowl. It'll help with step four.
3. Whisk in the eggs.
4. Stir in the banana, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pro tip: You can use not-ripe bananas. It won't have that deep banana-y flavor, but it'll still do in a pinch.
5. Time for dry! Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in the two cups of chocolate. Or more or less, depending on taste. I like a lot of chocolate. Preferably a mix of darks.
6. Pour into pan and bake for about 18 minutes or so. The handy-dandy toothpick test doesn't really work well for this type of cake. It should still be a little gooey in the middle.
7. Let it cool for about 15 minutes while you panic over not having ice cream only to realize it was hiding behind the giant bag of broccoli you haven't got around to cooking yet.
8. Really only wait about five minutes, cut yourself a nice chunk, and top with a scoop of ice cream or four, sit in a comfy chair with a nice cup of coffee, and feel good about making something so tasty.