The last day of school in our neighbourhood means the Dawson’s annual summer launch party where guests are welcomed by Joan, Jinji and Lilli, three very gracious hostesses.
It’s always a fun time for the kids with water slides, trampolines and a bouncy castle all crowded into their beautiful back yard in the center of the city.
Parents are invited too, to sit and observe the children’s revelling from beneath the shade of blooming, fragrant old lilacs which stretch out over the back deck.
It’s always a great, informal relaxed time with good conversation and good eats, which naturally is where I come in. My contributions to the table at this year’s party included a baked brie in puff pastry with toasted walnuts and partridgeberries for the parents and a huge chocolate chip banana cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.
The cake recipe is really a variation of my mom’s banana bread recipe which I’ve recently discovered goes amazingly well with chocolate buttercream frosting.
Banana Chocolate Chip Cake
1 cup white sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ cup orange juice
1 cup chocolate chips
Beat sugar and oil in a bowl. Add eggs and mashed.
Sift together dry ingredients and fold into banana mixture alternately with orange juice.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9 inch cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. A toothpick inserted in the center which comes out clean is the best indicator that the cake is fully baked.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
Combine and bring to a boil. Continue to boil over medium heat without stirring until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile beat together to stiff peaks
6 egg whites at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Slowly pour in the sugar syrup hitting the side of the bowl and not the beaters. Continue beating the frosting for 10-15 minutes until the meringue is completely cool. When completely cool, slowly begin to add, a few tablespoons at a time
2 cups softened unsalted butter
Beat until smooth after each addition.
Combine and melt in a double boiler:
1 pound chocolate, chopped in small pieces
½ cup butter
Add to the meringue mixture and beat well until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. This may take 15 minutes or so and you may have to chill the frosting for several minutes before beating it again to get it to stiffen. Alternatively, you can place the frosting bowl in an ice bath while continuing to beat constantly until the icing stiffens sufficiently.
Garnish with chocolate dipped banana chips if desired.
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