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Jungle Monkey Love Cake

There is a cafe in West Vancouver called Trafiq. They serve this cake/bread thing called Chunky Monkey, and it is, I kid you not, a little slice ‘o’ heaven.

I have been obsessed with reproducing the recipe, and, while more research is required (meaning, I need to go there and eat lots more of it–all in the name of research–I hate my life!), this is pretty darn good.

It is, in essence, a bread pudding (cake) with roasted bananas (jungle monkeys) and dark chocolate (love).

Bread Pudding is a very humble dessert. It’s essentially a way to use up stale, left-over bread, but it also makes a beautiful blank canvas on which you can paint many yummy flavors.

I made this from a baguette I got at PICA. Because their stuff is so good and so reasonably priced, it wasn’t day-old when I got it, so I left it on the counter overnight and made the recipe the next day. Erin at PICA¬† pointed out to me that stale croissants (also available at PICA) also make excellent bread pudding.

Jungle Monkey Love Cake


  • 3 bananas
  • 1 baguette, day-old if possible. Dry bread absorbs custard more easily
  • melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup good quality dark chocolate bar, chopped


  • Peel the bananas and slice them length-wise in half. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, and place the bananas, cut-side down, on the cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter. Place in a hot oven (400 degrees) for about 10 minutes, or until the bananas are caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice into chunks.
  • Cut the baguette into 1 inch chunks, and place in a large bowl.
  • Make the custard: crack the eggs in a bowl and beat. Add the milk and cream and sugar and again, whisk until combined. Finally, add the vanilla and nutmeg, and again, whisk to combine.
  • Pour the custard over the bread chunks, and stir well until combined. Add the chocolate chunks and mix.
  • Place a dinner plate over the custard/bread mixture to weight it, and cover the entire bowl with saran. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (I left mine overnight) to allow the bread to soak up all the custardy goodness.
  • Pour the custard mixture into a parchment-lined, buttered standard loaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden, and the middle is set.
  • Allow to cool, but slice and serve warm with whipped cream and a sprinkling of icing sugar and grated chocolate.

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

PICA first came onto my radar a few months back when Erin walked into my Tuesday night class at BCIT. Of course, I had driven and walked past PICA about a thousand times on my way to Granville Island, but I’d never stopped, despite the fact that I had heard that their bakery was outstanding. As a training institute, they are churning out some pretty top-drawer chefs, but regular folks like you and I can also go there to take one-off cooking classes, or educate our palates with the WSET or something similar for Beer enthusiasts.

But even if you never take a class at PICA, you can still enjoy it. They have a Bakery and a Bistro. The Bistro does a prixe-fixe menu every night, which changes seasonally. The three-course meal will set you back a whopping $24, and you would be hard pressed to find a better meal for that price in this city.

I went a few weeks back as part of Dine Out Vancouver with a friend, for a pre-theatre dinner.

Our meal started with the most exquisite bread basket I have ever experienced, with probably about 10-12 different kinds of breads, all delivered to us by the chef-in-training who made them.IMG_5260

Our starters were a tuna tartare salad and a ravioli made with beets. Meaning the ravioli themselves were made of thinly-sliced beets, with a filling. Yum. Mains were trout and a half a Cornish game hen.

As we were waiting for dessert, one of the chefs approached our table. We thought she was bringing our dessert, but it turns out, it was a palate-cleanser. The maitre’d told us she had been at home sick a few weeks back and had spent the entire day in bed with her notebook, dreaming it up. I have no idea what it was–something to do with mangoes and molecular gastronomy, but it tasted good!

Dessert was a chocolate banana cake and a lemon tart with strawberries.


All-in-all, it was a delightful experience. The room, which has been recently renovated, is warm and sleek. The maitre’d, Sonja, is charming and gracious, and pretty generous with the wine pour. They have a great wine list, with a nice selection of local BC wines. I had wine flight of three tasters for $10.


Highly recommended for a date night,¬† if you don’t want to break the bank but still feel well-taken care of and indulged. Two people could easily eat a gourmet 3-course-meal with wine here for under $100.


Ooops. I did it again.

Ooops. I did it again.

Website: http://www.picachef.com

Bistro 101: http://www.bistro101.com/

Twitter: @pichachef

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/picachef

IRL: 101 – 1505 West 2nd Avenue
Vancouver, BC