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CANDACE NELSON Peanut Butter Pretzel Banana Cake

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This recipe combines all the right ingredients to create a fabulous dessert!

1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter (melted, plus more for greasing)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (shaken)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy supermarket-style peanut butter
3/4 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 1/2 large bananas)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups mini pretzels (coarsely chopped)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick, slightly softened)
1/2 cup creamy supermarket-style peanut butter
1/2 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 1/2 medium bananas)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 1/3 cups confectioners sugar (sifted)

Make the Banana Cake: Preheat oven to 325˚F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit, and butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides of each pan, then tap out the excess flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter, and banana on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugars and eggs and beat until just blended. Add half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating after each addition until blended.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake until the cake springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes. Cool the cakes completely in the pans on a baking rack and then invert them onto cake rounds or another flat surface, like a platter or revolving cake stand.
Make the Candied Pretzel Topping: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large nonstick skillet, combine the sugar, butter, and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted, 1 minute. Cook, stirring gently, until the sugar has melted and darkened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pretzels and gently stir to coat completely. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and cool completely.
Make the Peanut Butter-Banana Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter together until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the banana, vanilla and salt and beat until just combined. Slowly add the confectioners sugar and beat until completely incorporated and creamy, 1 minute.
Frost the Cake: Using a long serrated knife, trim off any uneven or domed parts from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place one of the cakes on a serving platter, leveled-side up. Using an offset spatula, frost the top of that layer, then stack another cake layer on top, leveled part facing down, and frost the top of that layer. Stack the third layer on top and create a crumb coat.
Place the remaining frosting on the top of the cake and, working from the center outward, frost the top and the sides of the cake. Mound the candied pretzels on top of the cake, or press the pretzels onto the sides and top of the cake.
Tip: For the crumb coat, spread a thin layer of the icing using an offset spatula on all sides of the cake. Allow the icing to set. Refrigerating the cake for 20 minutes helps the crumb coat to set nicely before applying the final layer of icing.

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