Recently I had an entire bunch of overripe bananas on my counter. My kids always *say* they want bananas, and then somehow I had 7 overripe bananas that were soon to go to waste. I made my (The Best Ever) Banana Bread, of course, but what to do with the rest? I started experimenting, and what I ended up with was this Mocha Banana Cake!
I bake with bananas more in the winter than any other time of year. They’re so flavorful and, with the exception of citrus, there aren’t many winter fruits to be found. At least none with any flavor (that means those strawberries that are white on the inside don’t count)! This Mocha Banana Cake is four layers of banana cake frosted with an espresso cream cheese frosting, with cocoa nibs and grated chocolate between the layers. Talk about flavor! <3
Cream cheese frosting is typically paired with a banana cake, but I wanted to put a twist on the usual flavor profile. I decided on an espresso cream cheese frosting. I added espresso flavor to the frosting with espresso powder. I’ve found it difficult to find espresso powder–especially one that isn’t already hard as a rock–at my local grocery store. I use King Arthur Flour’s brand (link [here]), as it’s very fine and made specifically for baked goods.
Since I had added espresso, I couldn’t help myself. I needed chocolate in there somewhere! When I was assembling the cake, I added cocoa nibs and grated chocolate between the layers. I really like the added chocolate flavor notes and subtle crunch from the cocoa nibs! They can be tricky to find, and I’ve never seen them in a grocery store. I’ve scored them before at HomeGoods, but you can’t count on them being there consistently. If you can’t find them, you can buy some online [here].
This recipe is for a 6-inch, four-layer cake. It’s baked in two 6″ pans, then you split the cakes so you have four layers total. If you’re looking to get some 6″ pans for yourself, these are the ones that I use [here].
Note that there’s a fairly large range on the bake time for the cake. Keep an eye on those babies starting at the 30-minute mark. The recipe calls for three bananas, but the size of your bananas will greatly impact the amount of moisture in the cake!
After frosting, I chose to garnish the cake with cocoa nibs, grated chocolate, freeze-dried bananas, and chocolate-covered espresso beans. In the event that you have trouble finding them in your local grocery store, you can find freeze-dried bananas [here] and chocolate-covered espresso beans [here]. Just note that if you put the bananas on the cake too far in advance, they will lose their crunch.
It’s always good to have another recipe on-hand to use up those questionable-looking bananas on your kitchen counter! I’m sure I’ll have more recipes to share! We always either have no bananas (the kids ate them already??) or too many bananas (the kids didn’t eat any??). Is that just at my house, or yours, too?
Other posts you may like:
Banana cake recipe adapted from Tessa Huff (The Cake Blog; link here).
Mocha Banana Cake
- 3 bananas
- 1½ cups flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
Espresso Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 16 oz cream cheese, softened (full fat)
- 1 Tbsp espresso powder (see note)
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- cocoa nibs (see note)
- 1 oz chocolate, grated (I used 60% cacao.)
- chocolate-covered espresso beans (see note)
- freeze-dried bananas (see note)
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 6" cake pans (see note) and set aside.
- Mash bananas and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Mix to combine.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add half the dry ingredients, followed by the sour cream, then the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, then fold in mashed bananas.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Bake time will vary a bit based on the size of your bananas...just make sure to check the cakes often starting at the 30-minute mark.)
- Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combined butter and cream cheese. Beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add espresso powder and mix to combine. Then add powdered sugar and mix until combined.
- Split the two cakes, so that you have four layers total. Frost the cake, adding cocoa nibs and grated chocolate between the layers. After frosted, top with cocoa nibs, grated chocolate, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and freeze-dried bananas.Enjoy!