Search This Blog

Monday, February 20, 2012

Date & Banana Squares with Almond Praline - my very own petit fours

Anyone with a sweet tooth loves cake.  In my case I like the idea of small individual cakes that are easily eaten and look a treat on a platter - wooing you to give in to any resistance.  Bananas are always going black and over ripe at our place and sometimes the regular banana bread just wont do.  I love pairing banana with caramel and with this in mind I came up with the idea for these delectable squares.  A moist date and banana cake at the base with a rich cream cheese frosting and then to top it off, a generous sprinkle of almond praline - just for the crunch.  These cakes are not baked individually, instead it starts as a whole square slice and with careful geometrical cuts, become an elegant petit four arrangement.
For the cake - bake a square of your favourite tried and tested banana cake, I particularly like this one as the cake was nice and firm when it came to portioning it into squares 
200g x Dried dates, chopped
¾ cup x Hot water
1 tsp x Bicarb Soda
200g x Butter, cubed
¾ cup x Caster sugar
2 x Eggs
2 x Ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tbsp x Lemon juice
2 cups x Plain flour, sifted with;
1 Tbsp x Baking powder
Preheat oven to 180°C and prepare a non stick 20cm square cake pan with baking paper
Combine the water, chopped dates and bicarb soda in a bowl, and set aside as it bubbles up
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until  thick and pale 
Add eggs one at a time, beating again after each addition
Combine banana and lemon juice and add to butter mixture, stir through well. 
Fold in half the flour and baking powder to the wet mixture,
Followed by the dates and then the remaining flour mixture  
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan making sure to smooth the surface 
Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

When cooled completely, use a sharp bread knife to trim the edges of the cake, including the top  
Turn the cake upside down, the flat surface assists to spread the frosting evenly

Cream Cheese Frosting
125g x Cream Cheese, softened
50g x Butter, softened
1½ cups x Icing Sugar
1 tsp x Lemon Juice
With an electric beater, mix the cream cheese and butter until combined
Gradually beat in the icing sugar and the lemon juice until mixture is thick and firm
Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes then spread evenly onto the top of the cake
Use a rubber spatula to spread the frosting evenly

Almond Praline - you could make this while the cake bakes or even earlier as it will store well

½ cup x Caster Sugar
2 Tbsp x Water
¼ cup x Slivered Almonds, dry roasted for a few minutes in a hot pan
In a heavy non-stick saucepan combine the sugar and water
Place on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves
Now increase heat to high and bring to the boil, do not stir
When mixture turns a golden caramel colour, remove from heat
Pour mixture directly onto a sheet of baking paper or silicone
Allow to stand for a minute before adding the almonds
Keep aside to cool completely then break into shards

Use a food processor to grind the praline shards into a coarse bread crumb like consistency 
Sprinkle the powdered praline generously over the iced cake and place the iced cake in the fridge for an hour to firm up nicely

Using a sharp bread knife carefully cut the cake into 16 squares 

Allow the cake to stand to room temperature before serving...Ooh La La!!! 

No comments: