Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coconut Banana Cake and Banana Ganache Tart (vegan friendly)

Here are two spectacular but easy desserts to wow your friends and loved ones. The chocolate tart is basically just a chocolate ganache (chocolate and cream) with mashed bananas mixed in. It's dark and chocolate-y, and fruity and tropical, all at the same time. The dough is lovely and it's something you can use for other tarts and pies. If you don't feel like making a homemade crust, you can use store-bought pie dough or even use a graham cracker crust.

I made the tart vegan by using vegan chocolate, non-dairy creamer, and vegan margarine. This is such a rich, decadent treat that it's hard to believe it can be made dairy-free, and still taste fabulous.

The banana cake is a good, old-fashioned type recipe that is surprisingly simple to whip up. It has lots of banana flavor, and the coconut in the frosting is the perfect complement.

The tart recipe is from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard. I think this is one of the most inspirational cookbooks I've read. The recipes are amazing and the photography is stunning.
The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts

Dark Chocolate-Banana Tart
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (you can use vegan chocolate)
4 ounces milk chocolate (vegan chocolate)
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used non-dairy creamer)
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 pound butter, softened but still cool (OR vegan margarine)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

(Make and pre-bake the tart dough before you make the filling.)

For the filling: Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl.

Puree the bananas in a food processor or mash with a fork.

Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Immediately pour the cream over the chopped chocolate, let sit for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir in a circular motion, starting from the center of the bowl and working out to the sides. Stir until all the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the bananas.

Allow the ganache to cool slightly and then pour into the prepared tart shell. Chill until set before serving.

To make the tart dough: Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of mixer and beat on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly creamed. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours.

Roll or press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until firm. Cool on a rack.

The cake recipe is from The Essential Baker by Carole Bloom.
The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients

As the recipe calls for, the cake is meant to be a layer cake. I took the lazy-baker's way out and made a bundt cake. The batter fit perfectly in my regular sized bundt pan.

Banana and Coconut Cake
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large, ripe bananas
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream Cheese Icing
12 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups shredded coconut

Grease and flour the inside of a 9-inch cake pan, and fit the bottom of the pan with parchment. Grease the parchment. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Using a mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until it is fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Gradually add the sugar to the butter, and cream together well. One at a time, add the eggs, stopping to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Place the bananas in a medium bowl and use a fork to mash them. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and stir until blended.

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients alternately with the bananas. Blend well. Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack.

To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the cream, sugar, and lemon juice.

To assemble the cake: Cut the cake into three layers using a serrated knife. Spread some icing and sprinkle some coconut between each layer, and over the top and sides of the cake. Let chill for at least two hours before serving.


  1. Both of these look amazing!

  2. They both sound awesome. I wouldn't expect non-dairy creamer to work in ganache, so that's great to know. Coconut in cream cheese frosting sounds really good!