Caramelized Banana Cookie Stack Cake

Ohhhh man, am I excited to share this recipe with you today!  I make a lot of really yummy things, and I’m pretty sure I call every one of them “delicious” at least once in each post, but I’m telling you this one was particularly irresistible to me and everyone else who indulged in it. I loved my last M&M Cookie Stack Cake, as did many of you, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I attempted another flavor incarnation.  When my bestie Marissa’s birthday rolled around a few weeks ago, I decided to throw together some of her favorite flavors to make a beautifully messy cake to celebrate her big day.  Bananas, toffee chips, caramel cream cheese frosting, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and plenty of butter and sugar make this cake difficult to name, but impossible to resist.

Marissa is a food blogger too (www.GetOffYourTushandCook.com), but since she’s a soon-to-be nutritionist, she posts mostly healthy recipes that couldn’t be further in caloric count from my creations.  But she’s famous for her “everything in moderation” mantra and loves a ridiculously over the top dessert every now and then as much as I do.  (Hence why I’ve made her crazy things like this Giant S’Mores Cake in the past).  Since healthy people tend to substitute banana for different fats in recipes, I thought I’d pretend to make things wholesome by starting the cake off with a banana cookie recipe.  But then I went and added peanut butter to the batter, tons of toffee bits, a few chocolate chips, and sandwiched everything together with a sweet and salty caramel cream cheese frosting.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

I concocted this with Marissa’s tastes in mind, but I myself couldn’t stop sneaking tastes along the way.  The sweet and salty combination is just amazing, and I was obsessed with the chewy but soft texture of the cookies.  In order to make a perfectly round cake, you’ll have to trim the edges of some cookies since they don’t all bake as perfect circles.  This is all hidden within the cake and covered with frosting, but you end up with little scraps of cookie that are perfect for things like dipping in the extra caramel cream cheese frosting.  Oh, I get it, maybe that’s why my pants feel tight these days…

I really love the look of these cookie stack cakes, it’s a free-form style that doesn’t try to be stuffy yet is still very impressive.  And as I said in my last cookie stack cake post, cookies can be superbly delicious for any occasion, but when it’s someone’s birthday I always want to do some sort of festive cake or cupcake.   And just like last time, I had to stop the girls from plucking cookies off the cake, because I think cutting into it and seeing all of the beautiful layers is the best part! Plus, then everyone gets a pretty absurdly sized piece that has plenty of cookie, frosting, and caramelized banana topping.  If you love the flavors of banana, peanut butter, and caramel you have to give this a try – or at the very least make the cookies and sandwich them together with the frosting. Whatever you do, just please get this combo in your life ASAP!

Happy Belated Birthday CookTush, love you!  

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Caramelized Banana Cookie Stack Cake

Cookie recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients:

for the peanut butter toffee banana cookies:

2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 tbsp peanut butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
1 cup toffee bits
1/3 cup chocolate chips

for the salted caramel cream cheese frosting:

8 oz store-bought caramels
Splash of milk
8 oz cream cheese, cold
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar

for the caramelized banana topping:

1-1/2 large bananas, sliced
1-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

for the peanut butter toffee banana cookies:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the cooled peanut butter and butter with both sugars until well combined. Whisk in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until smooth. Add in the mashed banana and mix. While you mix with on hand, gradually add the dry ingredients until the dough forms together. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the toffee bits and chocolate chips.

Use a small ice cream scoop or 2 spoons to shape the dough into balls and place on a nonstick baking sheet about 2" away from each other. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

for the salted caramel cream cheese frosting:

In a double boiler, combine the caramels and milk and stir continuously until completely melted and smooth. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and continue to beat well. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar until combined, then increase the speed to medium and continue to beat another 2 minutes. This frosting will be thinner than usual because it's best to be slightly drippy so it oozes down the sides :)

for the caramelized banana topping:

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until sizzling, then add the bananas, cinnamon, and sugar. Cook for 4-5 minutes, tossing occasionally until the bananas are golden brown. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool slightly.

for assembly:

See the recipe instructions from this post to see a crude diagram of how to construct the stack. Basically you choose your serving platter and start with a circle of cookies and one in the middle. Add a ring of frosting, and then create another circle of cookies offset by one half cookie. Continue layering until all of your cookies are used up and you're happy with the shape of the cake. Top the cake with a smothering of frosting and pile on the caramelized bananas.