In the last week, I've celebrated three birthdays and in our family alone we have six celebrations in the next three weeks. That said there are a lot of cakes and candles and birthday songs in my future. Last week I made a Tiramisu Cake for my brother and then came up with this Chocolate Banana Pudding Icebox Cake for my niece.
Icebox cakes are by no means newfangled but most the versions out there are tailored to kiddie tastes and, well, they tend to look a little haphazard. This is not that -- with the help of a loaf pan, it comes together beautifully and the flavors are tamed down on the sugar but amped up on the flavor so it kid friendly but adult appropriate.
halved crosswise then sliced lengthwise
Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and plastic wrap or aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side (to help unmold the cake later). Combine 2 cups of the cream, the mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, mix until mixture is stiff (it should be the same consistency as cream cheese); set aside.
Spread 1 cup mascarpone mixture evenly into bottom of the prepared pan then top with a layer of 6 to 7 graham crackers, trimming some crackers as needed to fit. Spread 1/2 cup mascarpone mixture over the crackers then cover with about a third of the bananas and top that with another 1/2 cup of the mascarpone mixture and finish with 6 to 7 graham crackers, trimming as needed to fit. Repeat twice more with remaining mascarpone mixture, bananas, and graham crackers until you reach the top of the pan, finishing with the graham crackers.
When you're done assembling, you should have: 7 layers mascarpone, 4 layers graham cracker, and 3 layers or bananas.
Close with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set, at least 4 and up to 24 hours. Meanwhile, make the ganache, Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl and set aside. Place 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer then pour hot cream over chocolate. Gently stir until chocolate is completely melted and shiny, about 2 minutes, then stir in the butter. Set aside to cool and thicken, at least 30 minutes.
When ready to serve, unwrap the icebox cake and invert it out onto a serving platter, removing and discarding the plastic wrap. Just reheat ganache until it's pourable then spoon the warm ganache on top of cake, letting some drip down the sides. Place the icebox cake in the freezer briefly to set up, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup of the cream in a chilled bowl and whisk with the clean whisk until thick and fluffy and medium peaks have formed, about 3 minutes. Spread cream on top of cake then slice and serve.
For tips on how to whip cream, check here.