Banana "Turtle" Torte
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons banana liqueur (optional)
4 bananas, thinly sliced
For caramel: Combine sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cook without stirring until caramel is deep amber color, burshing down any crystals tht form on sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; carefully add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to low heat and whick until smooth. Add butter and salt and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. (can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Before using, warm over low heat until just pourable).
For cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9j" cake pans with 1 1/2" sides. Line bottoms of pans with parchment or waxed paper; butter paper. Combine chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan. Stir over low heat until melted. Cool. Whisk in eggs and sugar. Stir in flour, vanilla and salt. Divide batter among prepared pans and spread evenly. Sprinkle 3/4 cup pecans atop each. Bake cakes until set and tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs still attached, about 15 minutes. Cool in pans on rack. Turn out layers and remove waxed paper.
Bean whipping cream and liqueur to stiff peaks. Place 1 cake layer pecan side up on platter. Drizzly 1/4 cup caramel over. Cover with layer of bananas. Spread 1 cup whipped cream over banas. Drizzle 3 tablespoons caramel over cream. Top with second cake layer. Repeat layering with 1/4 cup caramel, bananas, 1 cup whipped cream and 3 tablespoons caramel. Top with remaining cake layer. Drizzle 1/4 cup caramel over cake. Transfer remaining whipped cream to pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe rosettes of cream around top edge of torte. Garnish with bananas. Sprinkle with pecans. Rewarm remaining caramel. Serve torte with caramel.