Banana Cake with Mocha Frosting and Salted Candied Peanuts

When we arrived last Monday from our Mexico vacation, both Tom and I were holding each other up – yes, were relaxed and loosed and ready to take on the world.  But having just spent most of the day traveling in ferries, transfer buses and planes, by the time we walked in our house, we were exhausted.

We both called our respective work and told them we were going to take the day off.

And we slept.

A lot.

Actually, he slept more than I.  Because, my body knows that when I have plenty of time to oversleep, my internal wake up alarm kicks in and there is nothing that stops me from waking up and not being able to fall back to sleep.  I usually go nuts trying to accomplish this, until I simply give up and get out of bed.

Then I walk around antsy all day.

I needed to relax and the only way I know how to do this is to bake or cook. I decided to check the freezer, since I knew that besides condiments we had nothing in the refrigerator.  Among the frozen homemade pasta sauce, and stock, I found a bag full of the blackest bananas I have ever seen  - they were there THAT LONG.

And thought, banana bread!

And just as fast – NO, banana cake… with chocolate ganache… and where is that recipe?

Out came out David Lebovitz’s book – Ready for Dessert and his Banana Cake with Mocha frosting and Salted Candied Peanuts which has been marked by a post it note for months, just waiting to be made.

Miraculously, I had all the ingredients to make this.

I like to call this my baking serendipity moment.  I wasted no time pulling the ingredients out and getting to work on measuring and mixing.

The recipe is a not difficult, just numerous step.  The cake came together pretty easy.  I did change the amount of cinnamon to only ½ of teaspoon, mainly because I’m not a huge fan of it, and the type that I have is Mexican cinnamon, which is pretty strong.  I also used a 9x3 inch cake pan to bake the whole batter in, instead of using two 9x2 cake pans that the recipe called for.  Mine took a bit longer in the oven - 1 hour, but the cake came out perfect.  

from David Lebovitz – Ready for Dessert


  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoon buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream at room temperature
  • 2 cups banana puree (3 to 4 very ripe bananas)
  • 1 ¼  cups pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped 

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and instant espresso or coffee powder.
Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
Mix in half of the flour mixture on low speed, followed by the buttermilk and banana puree.
Stir in the remaining flour mixture then stir in the pecans or walnuts just until combined. Don’t over mix.
Divide batter evenly between two pans. Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool completely.


  • 1 cup unsalted raw peanuts
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium-heavy bottomed saucepan, combine peanuts, sugar, and the water over medium heat. When the sugar begins to liquefy, begin stirring.
Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sugar crystallizes.
Decrease the heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring, letting the crystallized sugar on the bottom melt and brown slightly.
Then, use a heatproof spatula to scrape up the liquefied sugar and continuously coat the pecans with it, tilting the pan to help the sugar coat the nuts evenly.
Once peanuts are a bit glossy and coated with syrup(there will be some sugary crystals on them still, which is normal) sprinkle the sea salt and cinnamon over them. Stir the peanuts a couple of times, then scrape the candied peanuts onto a baking sheet and let cool completely.


  • 10 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
  • 10 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature 

Combine chocolate and coffee in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter until combined.
To assemble cake: Run a knife around the sides of the cakes to help them loosen form the pans. Invert one cake onto a serving plate. Spread about ¾ cup of the mocha frosting over the surface of the cake. Invert the second cake layer out of the pan, and place it over the frosted cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
Chop the peanuts and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
Will keep for 3 days at room temperature in a cake dome or air tight container.


Tom: “love the cake and the mocha combo, did not think I was going to go for it, but it works”

My mother: “I thought this was a chocolate cake!  But, I love the ganache”

Unlike Tom and my mother, I was not thrilled with the mocha and banana combo.  I love dark chocolate but the ganache was a bit too strong and bitter for my taste.  Next time I may use 5 ounces of 40% chocolate and 5 ounces of 60% chocolate instead of all 60%, which along with my espresso made the ganache way to bitter for me.  I do like the cake and the fact that its full of walnuts is a plus – if you know me, you know I love cakes full of nuts, and this one did not disappoint.

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