Earlier this week, it was my hub's birthday. He said he didn't want anything for his birthday and that he wasn't thinking much about it this year, as is the case as we get past 30, it seems. But I didn't want to let his birthday go entirely under the radar so I baked him a cake. What am I saying? I always bake cakes - any chance I get! And birthdays are my favorite occasion to bake for, naturally! My hubs gave me full creative directorship. But he's tricky. He's a very vanilla and chocolate kinda guy. He likes things simple, too simple at times, perhaps, though in our 18 years together he's definitely come a long way. We always dispute his foodie-ness. Agreed, he loves to eat. But will he go for anything, the more creative and unique flavors, the better? I'm not too sure about that. So picking flavors for his cake and trying to stay away from the basics while not being overzealous with my choices is a little tough. But I love a challenge.
I decided upon an espresso banana cake with walnuts for a nice textural note. The filling was a whipped caramel one that I jazzed up with a sprinkling of toffee crunch. The entire cake was then enroobed in a lovely dark chocolate coffee ganache. It's so important to use good quality ingredients. They make such a huge improvement to the end product that once you've had it, it's hard to want to use anything less than the best. I am specifically talking about chocolate here. Chocolate chips purchased at the grocery store are a great and easy ingredient to use in cakes or confections. They produce a reasonably good result and are cheap and easily to obtain. When you use high quality chocolate instead, the flavor and texture of your dessert become so much smoother and embody a purer chocolate taste. The ganache in this cake was the best I'd ever made thanks to high quality ingredients and I'm not turning back.
The espresso in the cake offered a depth to the banana flavor rather than a full-on coffee hit. Subtle. The whipped caramel filling brought a creamy lightness to the otherwise flavor-rich cake. Lovely. The dark chocolate ganache was like a mouthful of edible bliss.. Entrancing. All three components together - Birthday Cake Perfection.
I am always trying to come up with great flavor combinations, in hopes that someday I can showcase them in my own bakery. This combination is a winner and will definitely turn up in some form of cake or cupcake at my bakery.
Happy Birthday, hun! Wishing you a year of sweetness...!