The first few times I baked this incredibly moist, egg-free chocolate cake, adapted from a vegan recipe by Nora Cooks, I decorated it with salty-sweet chai frosting. For my twin sons’ third birthday celebration last month, I decided to try something a little different: Cake Whiz’s out-of-this-world maple buttercream, jazzed up with chocolate chips, peanuts, hazelnuts, and sliced almonds. I served two simple cakes, one for each twin, but feel free to bake as cupcakes or stack into a decadent, two-layer treat.
Chocolate Banana Cake
Adapted from Nora Cooks
1 cup whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups granulated, brown, or turbinado sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 ½ very ripe bananas, mashed (approximately ⅔ cup)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup boiling water
Adapted from Cake Whiz
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/3 cup maple syrup
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Generous pinch of sea salt
Prepare the cake batter: Prepare two spring-form cake pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine milk and apple cider vinegar; set aside until mixture begins to curdle, forming buttermilk. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add oil, mashed banana, vanilla extract, buttermilk, and chocolate chips, whisking until smooth. Stir in boiling water. Portion batter evenly into prepared cake bans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until batter is just set but still slightly gooey. Let cool in pans for at least 10 minutes before removing.
Prepare the buttercream: In a large bowl, cream together butter, maple syrup, and salt with a spoon or handheld mixer. Beat in sugar, one half-cup at a time, until creamy. You will need more or less sugar depending on desired thickness. I used around 3 cups. If preparing in advance, refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble and decorate: Spread maple frosting on top of each cake, and smooth with a spatula. Use a piping bag and star tip to form rosettes around the edges, and decorate with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.
Note: To prepare cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes in two 12-cup pans filled 3/4 of the way to the top. For a layer cake, frost one layer, place the other on top, and then decorate the top and sides with additional buttercream.