Chocolate Banana Cake & Persimmon Crostatas... because I'm on baking mode today!

The kitchen starts getting busy in October and onwards because I need to bake birthday cakes and then comes holiday baking as well.  I made this Chocolate Banana Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting for my co-worker.  I wish I had taken pictures while preparing it but I really didn't have time but here's the recipe anyway.  I've made this in the past so just click here for pictures. 

Chocolate Banana Cake

1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium sized bananas)
1 cup (240 ml) warm water
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
grated dark chocolate (for sprinkling)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Grease a rectangular baking pan, set aside
Sift together all the dry ingredients
In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients and the mashed bananas
Mix together dry and wet ingredients
Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean
Cool completely before frosting

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 ½ cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup whole milk
2 pkg reduced-fat or regular cream cheese, softened
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Place milk and chocolate chips in a bowl over a double boiler or microwave for 20 seconds just to melt the chocolates; whisk until creamy.
Add softened cream cheese and pure vanilla extract and beat until smooth and into spreadable consistency
Frost the cake and garnish with grated chocolate if preferred
It’s autumn and pies are like synonymous to the season.  It's also the time of the year when persimmons are bountiful.  My co-worker gave me a bag which I almost returned because they are shaped almost acorn-like but the skin is Fuyu .  The first are not ideal for pie making - remember my     Not a Tale Of Two Persimmons post from the past? Anyway, I decided to taste one and it does taste like Fuyu so I was able to make 3 crostatas complete with frangipane and pinches of cream cheese topping. 
Makes about 1 cup
You may use your blender in lieu of a food processor

2/3 cup blanched whole almonds or 1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt

If using whole almonds, grind them in a food processor as finely as possible without turning them into a paste. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer or wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for one to two minutes, or until light. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for one minute, or until thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

On low speed, beat in the egg. Add the all-purpose flour, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined. You should have about one cup. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week, then let sit for a few hours at room temperature before using. Or, freeze in an airtight container for up to three weeks, then thaw it in the refrigerator before using.
Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
2 sticks unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
6 to 8 tbsp ice water

1 Cut the sticks of butter into 1/2-inch cubes; should be thoroughly chilled.
2 Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again.

3 Remove dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean surface. Gently shape into 2 discs. Knead the dough just enough to form the discs, do not over-knead. You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days


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