I know, I know. Two posts in two days. That’s never happened here. But I had to say something:
Stop the presses.
I mean STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP NOW!!
Before you all go running to make Valentine’s Day treats for yourself, for your hunnybunny, for your kids, for your friends, for the librarian, for the guy who found the cell phone you left in a cab, or for anyone else, I have a proposition for you.
Make. These. Cupcakes.
They are sweet but not too sweet, decadent but not too decadent, and perfect. Just perfect.
I had a friend ask me for this very cupcake several months ago. He had been to a cupcake truck in The City (that’s NYC for those not in the know) and had this very same flavor combination. He fell in love. He wanted them for the party we were having at my house that day. That day?! How was I supposed to come up with a recipe on the spot? But I agreed because if you know me at all, you know I have a hard time saying “no” to close friends. Within a few hours, these cupcakes had to be made.
They were good. But not good enough for my standards.
I’m not sure what it was that I didn’t love about them because everyone else seemed to be in heaven. I didn’t write down the recipe though because it didn’t strike me to do so.
So when, several months later, this same friend asked for the recipe, I had nothing to give him and I decided to give it another shot.
This time, I meant business.
It took a couple tries but I managed a banana-y cupcake that could hold up to the other bold flavors of the cupcake. The next issue was that the Nutella as a stand-alone filling was too sweet. “It hurt!” said my dark-chocolate-loving-molars. So I mixed in a little of the dark chocolate my teeth love so much and came up with a ganache that still tasted of Nutella but wasn’t nearly as toothache-causing. And then, when all was said and done, I decided Martha was the queen and how could I possibly come up with a better frosting than her own caramel swiss meringue buttercream? So that’s what I used.
The balance is there. You taste all three flavors separately and together they harmonize like a well-practiced glee club (LOVE GLEE!!). And really? What’s better for Valentine’s Day than something filled with bananas and Nutella, reminiscent of the crepes you ate (or want to eat) in France? Nothing.
You will thank me for these. I thank me for these!
Banana Cupcakes for Lovers
a STO original, frosting adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
- 4 medium to large ripe bananas
- 2 c cake flour (or 1/4 c cornstarch with 1 3/4 c flour)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c granulated sugar
- 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 c milk
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Poke bananas several times with a fork, arrange on baking sheet, and roast for 15 minutes. Skins should be black.
Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk, alternating between 3 dry additions and 2 milk additions, mixing just until the ingredients are incorporated. When bananas are finished roasting, turn oven down to 350F. Peel and mash bananas with a fork. You should have about 1 1/2 c of banana mash. Fold this in to the batter.
Portion batter out among prepared cupcake liners. Bake 22-26 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
- 1/2 c Nutella
- 3 oz 60% dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt Nutella, chocolate, and heavy cream together. Set aside to cool.
Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 1 c plus 2 tbsp sugar, divided
- 1/4 c water
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Then, continue cooking without stirring until the syrup comes to a boil and begins to change color. Use a wet pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan and swirl the pan occasionally for even coloring. Once the mixture is a dark amber, remove from heat and add the cream in a steady stream while stirring constantly. Warning: the mixture will bubble up so be careful. Set aside to cool.
Set a heatproof bowl (that can accompany whatever electric mixer you have) over simmering water and combine remaining 1/2 c sugar with egg whites. Whisk constantly while heating until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar is dissolved. Then, using your electric mixer and the same bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff, but still moist, peaks and until the egg whites are cool (you can touch the bottom of the bowl to determine this). Set aside briefly.
In a separate bowl, cream butter until it is pale and fluffy. Add butter, 1/4 c at a time to meringue, beating on medium-low. When all is added, mix in vanilla. Finally, slowly pour in caramel and continue to beat until fully incorporated.
If not assembling the day of making the buttercream, you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Using an electric mixer, beat the buttercream briefly prior to frosting.
Assembly: We’re going to use the cone method to insert the ganache into the cupcake. Take each cupcake and cut out a cone shape from the top, inserting your knife at an angle pointing toward the center of the cupcake and going around in a circle. Once the cone part is out, cut off the tip of the cone and/or scrape out a bit more of the cupcake. Place about 1 tbsp of ganache inside and top with the cone you just cut out. Frost with the buttercream by dolloping it on with a spoon, a piping bag/tip, or a ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner. Due to the buttercream, cupcakes are best eaten day of assembly but can probably last a day in an airtight container.
I can’t handle the yum. Boy called this, “Killer.” (People still say that?!)