I should have called this post “Plan B” because it was supposed to have some sort of strawberry shortcake title. My original thought was to do a twist on strawberry shortcake. As you can see, that did not happen. I played around with different ideas for the shortcake portion of the dessert. When I came up with this banana-chocolate sponge cake version, I knew I had a winner. Then it occurred to me that the dessert shell is too pretty to cover up with strawberries and whipped cream. Don't get me wrong—strawberry shortcake on a banana chocolate shell is a fabulous thing (I had a few the last couple of weeks)! But why limit the possibilities? I decided to make the dessert shells the star of the show.
These shells could be the base for so many other things. How about topping them with ice cream sundaes? What about caramelized bananas, walnuts, and whipped cream? Try chocolate mousse. Now that I got the ball rolling, you can probably come up with some fantastic versions of your own.
If you are not familiar with dessert shell pans, this is what they look like.
The one on the left is the upper side and the one on the right is the underside. It is essentially a muffin pan with the bottom of each cavity pushed in creating dome. Once baked, you invert the pan and the bottom becomes the top. All you need to do is fill the bowl with a whole lot of goodness.
This recipe yields 6 shells. I like to keep my dessert recipes small, mainly to avoid a lot of leftovers. My family of four is not a huge consumer of desserts (although ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate brownies do disappear at warp speed). Generally, we enjoy sweets in small quantities and in a nonconsecutive fashion. So when we have leftover, it is a lose-lose situation for me: I would have to deal with the guilt of throwing away good food or the guilt of overconsumption to avoid the guilt of throwing away good food. To avoid this dilemma, I like to create smaller portion desserts. If you need larger quantities, this recipe can easily be doubled.
Banana-Chocolate Dessert Shells:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat eggs on high until pale yellow, thick, and creamy, about 3 minutes. Slowly add 1 tablespoon sugar at a time and continue beating for a total of 2 minutes. Add banana and vanilla extract. Blend well.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir into egg mixture, blending to incorporate without overmixing. Grease a 6-cavity dessert shell pan. Pour 1/3 cup batter in each cavity. Using only half of the chocolate chips, sprinkle some into each cavity. Pour the remaining batter over chocolate chips, filling the cavities no more than 3/4 full. Top off with a sprinkling of the remainder chocolate chips. Bake for 10–15 minutes, checking at the 10-minute mark. Done when an inserted toothpick with a few specks of crumbs. Store in an airtight container. Serves 6.
Note: Best eaten the same day. If kept refrigerated or dries out, microwave each for about 15 seconds or until barely warm to soften before eating.