Banana–Chocolate Chip Snack Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
As with all good movie or TV franchises, snack cake deserves a sequel. If my first snack cake recipe (Carrot-Almond Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting) didn’t catch your fancy, maybe this one will. The story line is the same—8-x-8 format, whisk-together batter, thick layer of yummy frosting over tall, moist cake—but the cast is completely different. You can think of these cakes as the True Detective of recipes (just seasons 1 and 3, please).
What’s new in snack cake #2 is the incredible chemistry of the two main players, which work in sync quite beautifully: peanut butter and banana. (Well, there’s chocolate, too, but it’s in a supporting role). The fruity banana batter is bolstered by browned butter for caramel-like richness that’s echoed by the butterscotch notes of brown sugar. Chocolate chips make an appearance, too, and even though their role is small, it’s impactful—especially if you frost and cut the cake before it’s completely cool and the chocolate is still a little gooey.
And here’s the real twist—this snack cake is completely whole-grain—but not in an obnoxious, hit-you-over-the-head sort of way. Whole-wheat pastry flour has a fine texture and mild flavor that blends seamlessly into baked goods like this. Though its flavor is milder than the earnest wheatiness of standard whole wheat, there is still some nutty nuance to it. And that’s great, because it intensifies the richness of all the good flavors in this cake (the browned butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter), instead of diluting them the way that white flour would.
As for the salted peanut butter frosting, well, be still my heart! Peanut butter behaves quite similarly to butter here, beating to a fluffy consistency that gives the frosting a smooth, creamy, buttercream-like texture. And the decision to add a good hit of salt? It makes the peanut butter taste more peanut buttery, as if you’d concentrated the flavor of four times as much as you actually use. And it’s a delicious way to cap off snack cake #2—because a good sequel needs to stand up to the original and make you want even more.