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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Banana Cupcakes, a Few Ways

I had request for cupcakes this weekend. They had to be good for breakfast (muffins) and have banana in them. I didn't want to make a muffin, so I stuck with a cupcake recipe and planned to go light on the frosting. I made two attempts (two full attempts, but a total of three different recipes) and I am not 100% happy with any of them. I will print the best of the recipe bases, but the base recipe needs work. The cupcakes tasted yummy, but the texture was too dense, hence why it needs work.

The combination most appropriate for breakfast is the pecan-cinnamon. The yummiest (in my book anyway) was the macadamia-white chocolate. I didn't like the pistachio so much. I don't blame it on the pistachio, but on the recipe...

Mise En Place for Fillings
I made a few flavor combinations - toasted pecan and cinnamon, macadamia nut and white chocolate, and pistachio and cardamom.

1/3 cup pecans, toasted 5 minutes at 350 degrees, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup pistachios, shelled & chopped
1 teaspoon cardamom

1. Prepare all the fillings and set aside.

Banana Cupcakes
makes 22-24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 medium bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
2. With a blender or food processor, blend banana and buttermilk until the banana is broken up.
3. In another bowl, combine banana/buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla.
4. Fold dry mixture into the wet mixture.
5. Divide batter into three bowls. In one bowl, fold in toasted pecans and cinnamon. In the second bowl, fold in macadamia nuts and white chocolate. In the third bowl, fold in pistachios and cardamom.
6. Scoop out into cupcake papers.
7. Bake at 350 degree oven for ~20-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (start checking after 20 minutes).

baked cupcakes

Thick Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces or 3/4 package of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add half of the sugar. Beat until combined.
5. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like. For this recipe, I was going for a very thick frosting.

scooping frosting

1. Scoop a bit of frosting on to each cooled cupcake.
2. Smooth frosting into a thin layer.
3. Top with caramelized banana disks, white chocolate dipped macadamia nuts, whatever you please...

I don't have many pictures as I had a guest over while I was baking. My guest was a fellow baking enthusiast who I met through the blog. She is a caterer and cooking instructor in the bay area. She is mid-remodel and wanted to see what I had done. She brought delicious Vietnamese sandwiches. It was great to share tips. I am going to try some out in the weeks to come.


Blogger Cindy said...

They look great. I'd have loved to see the inside.
Reading your blog a couple of weeks ago made me wanna make cupcakes. Now that I tried once, I wanna make more varieties. I'm amazed by all the cupcakes your making, so different, so beautiful...

4/23/2006 6:57 PM  
Blogger evil cake lady said...

Have you tried Rose Levy Beranbaum's Sour Cream Banana cake from her book The Cake Bible? It is a great cake, and I bet it would make tasty cupcakes. The cake is not too dense or mushy, with a good banana taste, and not overly sweet.
btw--I love your blog. It is so inspiring.

4/23/2006 8:07 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Thank you both for the great tips. I didn't have much time to research this weekend and I think it shows :) Next time I try anything banana I will track down these two references. Thanks!

4/23/2006 10:12 PM  
Anonymous suzyny said...

I, too, made a banana-based cupcake-muffin this weekend -- based on the Hummingbird cake. I like the look of your caramelized banana to top them off -- how do you make yours?
Thanks for the constant inspiration!

4/24/2006 6:43 AM  
Blogger pinkmydear said...

Yum--those flavor combinations sound great. Last week I tried my first from-scratch cupcake baking, after being so inspired by your blog (and all the luscious photos at Cupcakestakethecake). Mine were banana with chopped pecans (some w/o nuts)with your FABULOUS chocolate ganache frosting recipe. The cupcakes were a bit too dense, but they stayed moist for days. And that frosting, oh, that frosting-- soooo good.

4/24/2006 7:13 AM  
Blogger april said...

Beautiful - I agree with the RLB banana cake suggestion. I recently made a banana-tamarind cake with a peanut butter caramel glaze based on the Cake Bible sour cream banana cake. I could not believe how light and fluffy it was. All the banana flavor without its characteristic density. I used cream fraiche instead of s.c., and I bet you could use buttermilk as well as your favorite flavor combo. It is her method that is so unique and cake flour really lightens things up well. BTW, I love your blog. This past week I made cupcakes for a friends birthday inspired by your fudge frosting. (The rasberry-topped cupcakes on the vintage red stand). I was short about a cup of powdered sugar so I cut back equally on the milk. It ROCKED! I used the same chocolate ratio as your recipe. They were a big hit.

4/24/2006 3:37 PM  
Anonymous chochotte said...

Wow...what kind of fillings are in Vietnamese sandwiches? They eat sandwiches in Vietnam?! New food to try!
I've never made banana cupcakes, only muffins (my favourite being a white chocolate, walnut and banana recipe.
That makes me think: what are the technical differences between a muffin and a cupcake? I know that muffins usually include a liquid, milk or fruit juice and oil, rather than solid fats, but how does it work precisely? If anyone knows, its you.

4/24/2006 6:09 PM  
Blogger Rosa said...

Yum. Love your assembly line!

4/24/2006 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! They eat sandwiches in Vietnam! And they drink coffee! And they use knives and forks!

Seriously, Chochotte, Vietamese sandwiches are made with small French baguettes are filled with different kinds of meats (BBQ pork, chicken, a kind of head cheese, pork loaf, pate), pickled carrots and daikon, sliced jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and some mayonnaise and soy sauce. Beautiful.

If you're truly interested in knowing more about Vietnamese sandwiches, this is a good place to start:


More generally, it's a good site about Vietnamese street food in general.

4/25/2006 1:17 PM  
Anonymous chochotte said...

Heh sorry 'anonymous' didn't mean to sound patronising!
When I think of Vietnamese food I automatically think of the Asian cuisines I actually know a little about - Chinese, Thai, Korean - and these seem to be based on rice, bread not being much eaten at all. So it seemed a whole new concept to me. Thanks for the link, I'll get reading.

4/25/2006 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Phoebe said...

I loved the glass of wine in the background during scooping frosting onto the cup cakes

I wonder what is the perfect wine for cupcakes? tee hee

4/25/2006 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

Your blog has revolutionized my baking! I am a muffin girl who has never cared much for cupcakes -- all that icing, the part of cake I least enjoy.... But your style of filling the cupcakes -- I love a baking surprise. So I have adapted your technique to my muffins -- my family kisses your internet toes. So far I have a 5-Spice streusel banana muffin (or sweet potato -- yum) and a pineapple coconut muffin. Both are topped with streusel plus contain a surprise filling of the same. Wonderful -- the inner streusel stays moist and spicy in contrast to the crunchier topping, plus it helps keep the muffin moist. Next its going to be an apple filled muffin -- I am branching out to a different filling from the topping. Baking is too much fun!

4/26/2006 7:38 PM  
Blogger sadie pink said...

Your blog is like a beautiful cookbook! I'm blown away by your creativity! Sue

4/27/2006 7:07 AM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Thanks for the compliment Cindy. I hope that the recipes work for you and continue to be an inspiration.

Hi, suzyny - I just heated up a non stick pan, threw a small amount of butter in there (half tablespoon) and placed the little banana disks in the pan. I let them slowly caramelize on one side over medium heat. After they are browned, I flip them carefully with a couple of forks.

Hi, April, I will definitely try some of those options. The funny thing though is that the folks that these were for really loved them and didn't have a problem with the density, probably because they were expecting something muffin like anyway...

Hi, chochotte. Seems that the definition of a muffin has changed over the years. For example, the chocolate cream cheese muffins are really like cupcakes without frosting. I look at the carrot cupcake/muffin as a good guide -- if it has no frosting or just a smear of frosting its a muffin. If it has a lot of frosting, its a cupcake. In my book anyway!

Hi, Phoebe... In this case it was a Sauvignon Blanc that did the trick. I got a bit tipsy, actually!

Michele, that's exciting to hear. Your recipes sound awesome. You should share them, too!

Thanks for the compliment, Sue.

4/27/2006 1:08 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Have you ever made a chocolate cream cheese frosting? I am wondering how much and what kind of chocolate, i.e. bittersweet or semisweet, to add to your basic cream cheese frosting recipe.


4/28/2006 6:27 AM  
Blogger shaz said...

hi there. wonderful blog and great photos. I added your blog as a link on mine. I hope you dun mind. Thanks!

4/29/2006 1:51 AM  
Blogger diva. said...

oh your cupcakes remind me of this eggless sugarless banana muffin my friend n i made a couple of weeks ago for a friend's april baby bash. yours looks really wonderful, reminds me a little of Christmas cause of its white frosting. Very lovely! Btw, I was in UK this week and I saw an easter cupcake like yours in a bakery :)

4/29/2006 4:04 AM  
Blogger Qq. said...

Those look scrumptious! Chockylit, your cupcakes look so yummy :) I did want to ask you a question, do you use a scoop (ice cream spring handle) to put batter into the pans? If so, do you know what size you use? I've been wanting to buy one, but I find that local shops either carry really big ones or really small ones, and there are so many online, who knows which one to choose. Just wanted to get your input, thanks!

4/30/2006 6:24 AM  
Blogger valentina said...

Oh my God, these are wonderful. I cannot believe you never run out of amazing things. These cupcakes look so stunning.

5/01/2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

Those banana cupcakes sound delicious.

Do you have any advice/suggestions/recipe for something like these cupcakes? They look and sound delicious but I have no idea how to go about making them.

Cinnamon Toast Crumble Cupcake
Cinnamon Cupcake With Whipped Sweet Butter Topped With Cinnamon Crumbles

photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68235985@N00/137603988/

5/02/2006 6:48 AM  
Anonymous agnes said...

I would like to bring some of these for a birthday party (they look so good!!!). I was thinking in decorating them with numbers from 1 to 30, since my friend is turning 30. Does anybody have an advice about how to make the numbers? Thanks!

5/05/2006 2:34 PM  
Anonymous leecb said...

You said you were unhappy with the finished cupcakes as they were too dense and heavy, I think that if you put some baking soda in the mixture they will be much lighter as the fibre in the banana stops baking powder from working as well as it normally would, also the soda will help to balance the acidity in the buttermilk in terms of leavening, lack of raising caused by both fibre and acidity can be addressed by adding baking soda. You may neeed to decrease the baking powder by 1/5 a teaspoon per cup of flour, or they will over rise and collapse, although as you are using banana and buttermilk it may not be necessary.
Rose Levy Berenbaum in the book mentioned by "Evil Cake Lady" has lots about the chemistry of baking that is really useful in adapting recipes. (Sorry this is a bit long)
Great blog!

5/26/2006 10:30 AM  
Blogger LillyJane said...

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get cupcakes to dome in the center of the cup? I have and electric oven with a convection feaure and neither seem to make the cupcakes rise just right. Thanks!

5/26/2006 9:44 PM  
Blogger Amanda & Debbie said...

We recently tested 4 different recipes when trying to make a chocolate cupcake that was not too heavy but not too light. (We won't be eating any more chocolate cupcakes for quite some time!) Hope you find your 'just right' banana cupcake recipe soon.

5/27/2006 6:26 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Hi, lillyjane, getting a domed top is typically consider 'bad' in baking (especially with cakes) and people work hard to avoid it! Doming is oftened attributed to a too hot oven, but I also find that some recipes just tend to dome and some don't. So, for the ones that stay flat, I tend to add more batter (closer to 3/4 full) and for those that dome I tend to go 2/3 full. One thing to watch out for sure, is opening the oven too soon. That will surely cause your cupcakes to go flat. Wait at least 15 minutes before opening. I tend to start opening and rotating my pans 15-18 minutes in and then start testing around 22. I don't use convection (I have an electric with convection as well) as it can dry out cupcakes. (So, I here... I haven't done a side by side test.)

5/31/2006 11:04 PM  
Anonymous mollie said...

I juuust popped these in the oven; The batter tastes good even with a few changes, so we'll see! :>

6/22/2006 7:23 PM  
Anonymous mollie Copans said...

I posted last night as I just put them in and wanted to update!

I made them with just the cinnamon and toasted pecan addition. I was skeptical about the oil (don't know why), but they turned out amazing. I baked with convection though to see, and they were a *bit* dry but also not too dense -- nice and cakey. I also used a bit less sugar and certainly made up for it with that amazing frosting. I added cinnamon to the frosting as well, which was nice!

Thanks for sharing the recipe!

6/23/2006 4:22 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

mollie, I am glad to hear they worked out!

6/23/2006 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blogg and all I can say is it is amazing! I to am a lover of all things sweet -especially cupcakes! I see you like to use cream cheese frostings. I love them and have tried many. Here is one I'd like to share with you. It's light, not too sweet and always gets great reviews from family and friends.
•1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
•1 cup sifted powdered sugar
•1/8 tsp of salt
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream – depends on consistency desired

Thanks for sharing all of your amazing work!

8/03/2006 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Directions for cream cheese frosting.
In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

I'm sure you don't really need them but I figured I send them any way.

8/03/2006 12:42 PM  
Blogger chockylit said...

Hey, thanks. I will give it a try sometime. Sounds nice!

8/03/2006 1:38 PM  

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