Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake is quite possibly the most outstanding cake I’ve baked in years. With a rich chocolate layer rippling through the center of a tender banana cake, the only thing that could make the best banana coffee cake recipe more indulgent is a pecan streusel topping, which of course, you’ll find here too!

A spatula is lifting a piece of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake out of the pan.

When I set out to make a cake, it’s never an easy task. I mean, there are so many choices! Layer cakes, snack cakes, crumb cakes, bundt cakes…the list goes on and on. And if you know me, you know that I’m terrible at making decisions when there are too many choices.

But let me tell you, I will never, ever turn down coffee cake. With its characteristic cinnamon ripple through the center of the cake and buttery streusel topping, I love assembling those layers just as much as I love eating the cake itself. 

And this chocolate pecan banana coffee cake?! My friends, this coffee cake all but brought my taste testers – including myself! – to their knees. To say that it was a huge hit is an understatement!

A piece of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake is on a round white plate. The cake pan with the rest of the cake is in the background.

Seriously, there are not enough incredible things I could say about this cake without sounding like a complete babbling mess. 

At its most basic level, it’s a moist banana cake with a tender crumb and loads of banana flavor. And those criteria by themselves make for a fantastic cake, right?

A piece of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake is on a round white plate. There is a second piece of cake and the cake pan in the background.

But when you add in a sweet chocolate ripple to the middle of the cake – no, it’s not just a plain cinnamon ripple! – and a buttery chocolate chip pecan streusel topping, the cake is fully transformed into an absolutely unforgettable dessert (or is it the perfect breakfast?!) that you’ll never want to end.

You’ll beg for a second piece. And you’ll try to have restraint. But it won’t be easy, especially if you have a really good hot cup of coffee or tea to go with the cake. 

If, IF!! If you can hold off on that second piece until the next day, I promise you’ll be handsomely rewarded. Because if you can believe it, this banana cake gets even BETTER by the second day! 

The pan of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake.

It’s just like a really good classic banana bread, where a little extra time allows the flavors to meld together, this cake is exactly the same. The banana flavor blossoms with time so if you actually have leftover cake to indulge in, you won’t regret eating day-old cake.

Ingredients

Here’s the basic grocery list for this banana coffee cake recipe. Be sure to keep scrolling down to the recipe for the full Ingredients list and full printable recipe card!

Ingredients for the cake batter of the Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake are laid out on a white marble counter.

For the cake batter:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed cocoa)
  • Unsalted butter – You’ll want this to be at room temperature, around 68 to 70 degrees F
  • Granulated sugar
  • Large Egg
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Overripe bananas – Medium bananas are the perfect size for this recipe
  • Sour cream – Full fat sour cream always works best in my cake recipes
Ingredients for the streusel topping of the Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake are laid out on a white marble counter.

For the streusel:

  • Chopped pecans
  • Mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Unsalted butter

How to Make Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake

Here are the basic steps to make this absolutely awesome banana coffee cake recipe. Be sure to keep scrolling down to the recipe for the full Ingredients list and full printable recipe card!

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

A piece of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake is on a white round plate. There is a gold fork  that has broken a piece of the cake off and it's ready to be eaten.

STEP 2: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the dark brown sugar and cocoa powder together into a mostly cohesive mixture. 

PRO TIP #1: If your brown sugar is a little on the clumpy side, try mashing the clumps with the bottom of a whisk handle (or something else small and flat). Then, use the whisk to mix the cocoa and sugar together.

Ingredients for the streusel topping for the Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake are in a wide glass bowl.

STEP 3: Next, make the streusel. Stir the pecans, chocolate chips, flour, both sugars, and salt together in a medium bowl. Mix the melted butter in with a fork until the butter is completely incorporated.

STEP 4: To start the cake batter, cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix in the egg and vanilla followed by the mashed bananas.

Mix half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined, followed by all of the sour cream, and then the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

The cocoa mixture for the chocolate layer of the Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake has been spread out over the bottom portion of cake batter.

STEP 5: Next, spread some of the cake batter in an even layer in the prepared baking pan with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the cocoa mixture over the batter. Dollop the remaining cake batter over the cocoa mixture. Don’t worry about full coverage; the batter will spread out when baking.

STEP 6: Grab the bowl of the chocolate pecan streusel and sprinkle it all over the top of the coffee cake batter. It may seem like too much streusel but trust me, it’s just the right amount.

STEP 7: Bake until the streusel is browned and the cake springs back a little when you press gently in the middle of the cake. 

A wide glass bowl with the mixed streusel topping for Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake.

PRO TIP #2: Be sure to test for doneness by gently pressing the center of the cake. Using a toothpick to check for doneness will be difficult for this cake. The chocolate layer in the center of the cake will always end up on the toothpick, which makes it look like the cake isn’t done yet.

STEP 8: Cool the cake completely in the baking pan on a wire rack. Once fully cool, cut the cake into 16 pieces.

Why a Streusel Topping and Not a Crumb Topping?

The short answer to this question is that this is a moist banana coffee cake, not a crumb cake. And coffee cakes get a streusel topping instead of a crumb topping.

The fully baked Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake is cooling in its baking pan on a wire rack.

Most of the time, you’ll find a powdered sugar glaze on top of a coffee cake streusel, but I opted out of the glaze for this version. The chocolate ripple inside the cake and the amount of brown sugar in the extra thick layer of streusel meant to me that a sugary glaze wasn’t needed.

How to Keep This Cake Moist and Tender

The perfect way to store this cake so it doesn’t dry out is to keep the cake in the baking pan. Then, you’ll tightly wrap the cake pan with plastic wrap. Be sure you leave the cake at room temperature because the refrigerator will tend to dry the cake out faster.

A spatula is lifting a piece of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake out of the pan.

Love Cake for Dessert and Breakfast Like We Do? You’ll Flip for These Recipes!

A piece of Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake is on a round white plate. There is a second piece of cake and the cake pan in the background.

Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake Recipe

Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 53 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 23 minutes

This Chocolate Pecan Banana Coffee Cake recipe is one for the history books! A rich layer of chocolate ripples through the most tender banana cake and an extra thick layer of streusel topping sets this cake off like no other. It's the perfect dessert but doubles as an incredible breakfast cake too!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups (195 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp (78 g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup (102 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick or 109 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (175 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 medium very ripe bananas, drained (if frozen first) and mashed (about 250 g without the skins after draining - doesn’t have to be exact)
  • ⅓ cup sour cream

For the streusel:

  • 1 cup (96 g) pecan halves, chopped
  • ¾ cup (140 g) mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup (43 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (56 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp (78 g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 4 tbsp (55 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray or butter. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In another medium bowl, combine the dark brown sugar and cocoa powder together into a mostly cohesive mixture. (I found that mashing the brown sugar clumps with the back end of a whisk (or something else small and flat) works great. Then use the whisk to mix the cocoa and sugar together.)
  3. To make the streusel topping: Stir the pecans, chocolate chips, flour, both sugars, and salt together in a medium bowl. Drizzle the melted butter over the streusel ingredients and mix it in with a fork until the mixture is slightly crumbly and completely moistened with the butter. Set aside.
  4. To assemble the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl halfway through and then again at the end. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. The mixture may start to look curdled but that’s normal. Scrape the bowl again. Add the mashed banana and mix until combined.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, stir in half of the flour mixture to the bowl until just combined, followed by all of the sour cream until combined, and then the remaining dry ingredients until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and give the batter a quick stir.
  6. Spread ⅔ of the cake batter in an even layer in the greased baking pan. Sprinkle the cocoa mixture over the batter and give the pan a little shimmy to even out the streusel. Dollop the remaining cake batter over the cocoa mixture. Don’t worry about full coverage; the batter will spread out when baking.
  7. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top of the batter in an even layer. It may seem like too much streusel but it’s just the right amount.
  8. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes. The streusel will be browned and the cake should spring back a little when you press gently in the middle of the cake. Using a toothpick to check for doneness will be difficult because of the chocolate layer in the center of the cake.
    Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 pieces.

Notes

adapted from Yankee Magazine

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