Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing


I haven’t felt as inspired in the kitchen lately. I could blame it on many different factors.... going out of town... lack of energy while still recovering from sickness... starting an exciting new adventure...  the busy-ness of life in general... My poor camera hadn’t been touched in a couple weeks, nor have I been keeping up with my writing (or, for that matter, the dishes that continually pile up in the kitchen)....


But, I did make a particularly fabulous batch of banana cupcakes last weekend that were too good not to share! They were for the birthday party of a friend who loves banana bread, so the leap to banana cupcakes seemed like a no-brainer.


The cupcakes were topped with cream cheese icing & garnished with a banana chip.  Funny story with the banana chip garnish idea.... I made the cupcakes & frosting sort of last minute, and in my haste to get them wrapped to take to the birthday party, plastic wrap fell into the soft icing tops of a couple cupcakes :( But then I remembered a stash of Trader Joe’s banana chips in my pantry.  I brought those along to the party & added them as garnish on the top.  Suddenly, no one was noticing the slightly marred icing :)


But let’s be honest, most people at the birthday party were more interested in tasting the cupcakes than looking at them. The flavor was spectacular! Cream cheese and banana are a perfect pairing. A couple people even said it was perhaps their favorite cupcake ever--those words do tend to make a pastry person feel pretty good :)


 Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to replenish my now depleted supply of frozen ripe bananas.

Banana Cupcakes
adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

115g (1/2 c or 1 c) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
100 g (1/2 c) Brown Sugar
150 g (3/4 c) Granulated Sugar
3 large Eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 c mashed very ripe bananas (for me, that was 5 medium bananas, or just shy of 400 g)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
250 g (2 c) AP Flour (or substitute Jeanne’s GF AP mix, if wanting to make them GF)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1/2 c Buttermilk (or 1/2 c milk mixed with 1/2 Tbl lemon juice)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cupcake pans with 18 liners & set aside. (see note below) 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars. Mix on medium speed until well combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  
  3. Mash the banana in a small bowl (I use my fingers, or a fork). Add the bananas to the mixing bowl, along with the vanilla extract, and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  
  4. In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl & mix on low speed until just barely combined. Add the milk and mix again on low speed until just barely combined--it’s ok if the batter is lumpy.  
  5. Portion the cupcakes into the prepared liners. 
  6. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into one of the middle cupcakes comes out clean. The second pan may take a few extra minutes (mine took about 22). 
  7. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before icing.


Notes: 

  • While the original recipe yields 18 cupcakes, I found mine to be a little shorter than  I would have liked. Next time, I will plan to make only 16. 
  • It would be super easy to make these cupcakes gluten free, by substituting your favorite cup-for-cup/ounce-for-ounce GF AP flour blend... My go-to blend is Jeanne’s GF AP Flour Mix.  
  • I have only tested the recipe by weights, but have included volumetric amounts for those who do not bake by weight. 
  • If you don’t have overripe bananas available (I usually keep a stash of bananas in my freezer), use this tip from Thefauxmartha  to roast bananas first. 


Cream Cheese Icing
adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

8 oz (1 c) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
16 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste (or substitute extract)
24 oz (6 c) Confectioners Sugar, sifted if lumpy

Banana Chips, optional, for decoration

  1.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until well combined & lighter in volume. 
  2. Sift the confectioners sugar, if it is lumpy. Once the butter/cream cheese/vanilla mixture is done, add the sugar & mix on low speed until combined. Then, increase the speed to medium and mix for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Place the finished icing into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (I used an Ateco 808). 
  4. Pipe icing onto the top of each cooled cupcake and garnish with a banana chip, stuck into the top of the icing. 
  5. Store leftover icing in the refrigerator. Decorated cupcakes may be stored at room temp or in the refrigerator for a couple days, though the banana chips might become soggy.  Allow cupcakes to come to room temperature before serving. 
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