Forest of de-lights: a layer cake

I really wanted to make a cake similar to a Black Forest cake, but when I was rummaging through my pantry, I realized that I just had a ton of bananas lying around. So I looked through my other ingredients, and also saw coconut. From there, I was just thinking about maybe doing something inspired by both Black Forest and German Chocolate cake, using the bananas and the coconut. So from there, this cake was born! I was literally baking it right before going to get dinner with my friend, Christie, and it was just hilarious. You’d think I would be pressed for time, because it was 6PM, our dinner reservation was at 7:30PM in Glendale, and it takes about 45-60 minutes to drive there from where I live. Yet somehow, I was able to pull off about 90% of the cake in an hour! I don’t know how I did it, but by the time I was driving out, the cake was baked, my two fillings and one topping were made, and all I really had to do was assemble it and temper some chocolate shards to garnish. So I would say that this cake is relatively easy to make, and quick to do, all things considered!

For the different layers, we have a chocolate-banana cake, salted coconut milk soaking liquid, banana milk pudding, slices of fresh bananas, caramelized coconut custard, coconut ganache, and tempered chocolate shards. For the banana cake, I wanted the majority of my wet ingredients to actually be the bananas, since they can actually add quite a bit of moisture to a cake batter and I found it better to just bake off the moisture from those than to add too many extra wet ingredients and wind up with soupy cake batter. For the coconut ganache, I whipped it with some coconut milk after setting it, and I also used some additional cocoa powder for half of the ganache, and different piping tips, just so that there is a variety of shapes in the chocolate. With the shards, we have four kinds. Dark chocolate, salted white chocolate, turmeric chocolate, and swirled white and turmeric chocolate. The chocolate shards are really just an homage to Black Forest cake, since they have those gorgeous, taller-than-the-cake-itself chocolate shards that surround it.

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For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 egg whites
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup mashed bananas
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons coconut vinegar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream together your bananas with coconut oil, milk, salt, cocoa, and vanilla. Whip your egg whites with coconut vinegar, sugar, and baking soda until stiff. Sift flour. Fold all three mixtures together. Pour onto a lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Cool completely before unmolding. Using a 6-inch ring mold, cut out two perfect 6-inch rounds, 2 half circles, and assemble your scraps into a lined 6-inch ring mold.

For the banana milk pudding:
1 1/2 cups banana milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Whisk banana milk, cornstarch, and salt together on high heat until the mixture thickens. Take off heat and whisk in your coconut oil. Transfer to a bowl.

For the caramelized coconut custard:
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Melt down brown sugar with salt. Once caramelized, break with the coconut milk and oil. Combine with your egg yolks, tempering them first before whisking on heat until thickened. Strain and fold in your coconut flakes.

For the coconut milk soaking liquid:
1/3 cup coconut milk
salt

Stir together until salt dissolves.

For assembly:
2 bananas, sliced

Press pieces of cake into the bottom of a lined 6-inch ring mold. Pour on 1/4 of your soaking liquid first. Pour on 1/3 of your banana milk pudding, then 1/3 of your fresh bananas, then 1/3 of your coconut custard. Repeat with the other two layers. Place on the last layer and pour on the last of your soaking liquid. Add on a thin layer of your ganache and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the ganache:
2/3 cups dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut milk + 2 more tablespoons
2 tablespoons coconut oil
a pinch of salt
cocoa powder

Melt down the dark chocolate into the coconut milk, salt, and coconut oil. Pour some onto the lined and assembled cake. Pour the rest onto a sheet tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Transfer to a stand mixer and whip with the 2 additional tablespoons of coconut milk for 1-2 minutes. Transfer half to a piping bag. Use the cocoa powder to darken the remaining ganache.

For the tempered chocolate:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
salt

For the dark chocolate, temper 3/4ths of it on a double boiler with salt until it reaches 100 degrees F. Pour onto acetate and roll up inside of a ring mold. Refrigerate.

For the white chocolate, temper half of it with just salt, bringing it to 95 degrees F. Pour onto acetate and roll up 80% of it. For the turmeric chocolate, do the same, but with the rest of the white chocolate. For the swirled, take your spared 20% of each kind of chocolate and swirl them together on acetate.

Once the chocolate is set, break into long shards for the mono-colored pieces. For the swirled, break into small triangles.

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