THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL
I could really go for something sweet. I was thinking maybe some kind of butternut squash blondie (as weird as that sounds) but then I realized that I had actually roasted the whole butternut squash last night and did not have half left, as I had thought. Sad, as I had already pored over various recipes and had adapted a few to my own ends.
So what do I do? I will have to come up with a new bizarre concoction. How about moist banana cake with chocolate chunks? And maybe a caramel swirl topping? I just made some caramel sauce the other day and it was unbelievable. But now I don't have any cream so I will have to see if I can wing it with just milk. Could be a bad idea...we'll find out.
Later on, in the lab, Danielle brews herself a cup of jasmine tea and sets to work.
Dense Chocolate Chip Banana Cake
5 tbsp (65 grams) butter, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
1 smashed banana
2 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
50 grams semisweet chocolate, chunked up
Salted caramel (see below)
1. Whisk together first three ingredients.
2. Mix in the next three.
3. Gently mix in the next four.
4. Fold in the penultimate one.
5. Swirl the last ingredient on top (Don't use all of it like I did, save some for ice cream and save your cake from having pools of gooey caramel on top...unless you're into that. On second thought, I am into that.)
6. Bake at 350F/180C for about 25 minutes until the cake stops looking molten. It will still be moist looking, but when you let it set out for a little bit after taking it out, it'll be just perfect.
(This is a roughshod, approximate recipe because I have a phobia of following directions or making set plans, so I just threw things in the pot to see what would happen. Good strategy!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp water
a generous dash of salt
chunky tablespoonish nob of butter
splash or two of milk
1. Heat sugar, water and salt in a saucepan on medium high heat (but don't stir!) until caramelized to a medium amber color.
2. Take off heat briefly and whisk butter into the sugar mixture (it will foam up).
3. Return to heat and let it bubble away a bit more until the color starts deepening a bit (whisking in the butter will give it a slightly paler color).
4. Take off the heat again and whisk in a hefty splash of milk. The coolness of the milk will make it hard to dissolve, so turn down the heat and return the pan to burner. You may want to repeat this step because it'll thicken when it cools and you don't want it too viscous.
Voila! Tastes really, really good, and I didn't even need heavy cream! So there! I knew my reckless tinkering would never do me wrong!
Hey what do you know? It came out pretty good! I wanted something very dense and moist, and this definitely delivered on that front. I think the amount of baking powder I added gave it just enough lift not to come out as a hot, melty sludge.
The salty caramel swirled on top was TASTAY. This is definitely one of those recipes where each bite is different--some with a little more ooey-gooey caramel than others, some with an unexpected banana chunk or a concentration of melted chocolate.
And at the edge of the cake, where the caramel dripped off and smeared itself onto the edge of the pan, it got nice and dark brown and chewy. At least chewy when it was still warm. I have a feeling it's in my kitchen as we speak cementing itself on the pan permanently. But is that not the price we have to pay for warm chewy goodness in the here and now?
So! I declare this recipe a success! I think this cake would potentially be even better with something other than banana, though it definitely tasted good. Maybe with raspberries? I don't know, any ideas?
Sure, I could've walked one and a half minutes to the little grocery store in my apartment complex to buy the ingredients for any damn fool recipe...but three things were stopping me. (A) pyjamas, (B) it's cold and rainy, and (C) I just didn't feel up to faking like I know Norwegian in the check-out line. Ah, social anxiety!
But isn't this the fun way to do things?? My mom always scolded me for my childhood experiments. Experiments in her makeup drawer, experiments in the medicine cabinet (toothpaste-perfume beauty creme, anyone?), experiments in the kitchen--and her all-time favorite, experiments in knot-tying. Yes, I, as a child, could not resist tying anything remotely resembling a shoelace into hundreds of indelibly tangled knots. Precious.
I guess my pioneering scientific attitude has never left me. At least Ma can't scold me now that I get better results. Like this one.
Knock yourself out experimenting, people. It can pay off. Now, after three (moderately-sized!) slices of cake, my sweet tooth is satisfied.