Posts Tagged ‘banana’

Banana Cupcakes for Lovers

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

Makes 16.

Banana Cupcake:
Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions
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.

Nutella Ganache:
Ingredients

  • 1/2 c Nutella
  • 3 oz 60% dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream

Instructions
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:
Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions
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?!)

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Banana Bread – Take 2

Has it been long enough since I made my last banana bread? It’s just been a little over a month.

Not long enough, you say? In the words of Adrienne Maloof, “Well, whaddyou know?”

[Personal life aside: Is anyone else obsessed with all the Real Housewives like I am? Well, except Atlanta. I can’t seem to get into it for some reason. A friend told me how she saw Andy Cohen at a bar the night before the Superbowl and I was teeming with jealousy. Seriously. I have a problem. I’m a RH addict and I’m not afraid to show it. HOLLER!]

Anyhow, my home never seems to be without its share of overripe bananas and given my constant desire for baked breakfast goods, banana bread has been topping my list lately.

So banana bread version 2 was a go and I’m so glad it was because this recipe is super simple, requires one bowl, and doesn’t even need the help of electricity for mixing! Don’t get me wrong, I heart my KitchenAid like my own child but, like a child, sometimes you just want to do it on your own without an extra bowl or utensil to clean. The flavor of this banana bread was wonderful too. I wish there were still something of it left.. It got consumed too quick for my liking. Next time, I’ve made a mental note to double the recipe and get two loaves (one of which will be for me and me alone)!

Before I go sharing the recipe with you though, I’m a little behind on my posting of my daily eats. So..

This (Past Two) Week(s) I Ate:

  • Epicurious’ Apricot Glazed Chicken. Not a huge fan. Perhaps the chicken was a little bit dry but, for some reason, the flavor didn’t work for me either.
  • For Chinese New Year, I made Kevin’s dumplings with some adaptation (such as adding a bit of water chestnuts for crunch) using Jaden’s well-explained technique and sauce with the slurry and folding the dumplings. They came out super-cute, super-delicious, and Boy (and I) loved it! I also made some very quick bok choy. It was a wonderful way to start the new lunar year.
  • Mac & cheese that I adapted from the back of a Kraft shredded sharp cheddar package (I accidentally threw the package out before writing down the recipe). It had peas and bacon and was not as cheesy as I may usually like but probably healthier as a result so.. winning dish! Also, sometime in the leftover process I discovered the merits of adding just a bit of sour cream. Oh it was genius, forrealllll.
  • Our Superbowl extravaganza consisted of pizza from an unnamed pizza place, Buffalo Wild Wings (yummy), homemade chili from another friend, nachos, taquitos, lots of dips, salsa, guacamole, and finished with my (now-famous-in-my-group-of-friends) Mint Blueberry Cupcakes.
  • More Trader Joe’s and cafeteria food. Yum to the former. Ew to the latter.

In other news, I’m busy concocting February’s STO original recipe to follow up January’s success. A friend made a cupcake request so be on the lookout!

Banana Bread – Take 2
adapted from Simply Recipes

Makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • heaping 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 4 x 8″ loaf pan.

Using a wooden spoon, combine bananas and butter in a large bowl. Add in the sugar, egg, and extract and mix. Add in the baking powder and salt and mix. Finally, add the flour and mix just until the flour disappears. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool however long you can and serve!

Is there a dish you make often for whatever reason? What is it? Do share!

 

Brown Derby Cake

Brown Derby cake.

This past weekend we celebrated my wonderful mom’s birthday.

If you’ve ever met my brother, you’d know he’s a tough talker. He has a bit of a potty-mouth, he’s extremely smart, and he’s a bit conceited. So overall he sounds like a know-it-all with a smart mouth. He’s also a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and continues to teach students training to go to national competitions. He can do ridiculous flips and wield a sword. He’s not one to be messed with.

But if you get to know him a little better, he’s not as tough as he seems to be.

After several mishaps and uncertainties with the first cake idea I had, I called him asking for suggestions.

“What kind of cake do you think I should make Mom?”

“Brown Derby” was his immediate response, quickly defended with, “It’s the only cake I know she likes.”

And he was right.

You see, when we were growing up, all of our birthday cakes consisted of a Brown Derby cake created by our local pastry shoppe. I’ve never seen a Brown Derby cake since that time but the thought of it brought back some wonderful memories. So with the help of Google, I came up with a version of our favorite childhood cake that pleased the entire family.

If you’ve never tried one of these babies, it’s essentially a chocolate cake filled with a fruit and whipped cream filling including strawberries, bananas, and peaches (as I remember it). I created mine with a rich devil’s food cake filled with fresh strawberries, fresh ripe bananas, canned peaches, and a handful of blueberries folded into a gelatinous whipped cream mixture (that in hindsight could simply have been the fruit and whipped cream without the extra ingredients/steps). It was a throwback to our childhood and my mom was pleased that we had remembered.

Happy birthday, Mommy!

Brown Derby Cake
cake adapted from Dorie’s Baking From My Home to Yours
filling adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients
For cake:

  • 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 c whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 c boiling water
  • 4 oz semisweet or milk chocolate, finely chopped

For filling:

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin (~1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 12 oz fresh strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 1 15 oz can sliced peaches, drained
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced thinly
  • handful of fresh blueberries

For topping:

  • 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted (plus more to taste)

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F and prepare 1 round cake pan and 1 medium-sized mixing bowl (oven-safe!) with butter and a healthy dusting of flour or confectioner’s sugar. Line the round cake pan with parchment paper as well.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter on medium speed until soft. Add both sugars and continue beating for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla. At this point things may look curdled but keep on beating. On low speed, add melted chocolate. Then add dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the milk in 2 additions. Mix just until incorporated. Add in the boiling water which will thin down the luscious batter. Finally, stir in the chopped chocolate with a rubber spatula. Divide the cake evenly between the prepared pan and prepared bowl. Bake separately in the preheated oven. The round cake will take about 25-30 minutes. The bowl took me closer to an hour to set properly. When you insert a knife into the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Allow cake to cool for several minutes before running a knife/spatula around the sides, unmolding, and allowing to cool completely to room temperature.

For filling: (Again, as above, you can simply mix the fruit with whipped cream sweetened slightly with confectioner’s sugar if desired. This recipe gives a bit more solid filling with the addition of gelatin.) Stir gelatin in milk to soften. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff and add the sugar in slowly, mixing to combine. Heat the gelatin and milk mixture over very low heat for several minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved. With the mixer on, pour the warmed mixture over the egg whites and mix well. Add in vanilla. Cool to warm before folding in prepared fruits.

In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks (you can use your dirty beaters). Fold in to fruit mixture.

For topping: Beat heavy cream in a clean bowl until stiff peaks. Add sugar to taste.

For assembly: Once cakes are cooled, level both cakes, reserving scraps (take a bit off even if your cakes came our perfectly which mine never ever do). Take round cake and place on stand. Top with as much filling as desired. (I only did one big fat layer of filling and used about 3/4 of it. In hindsight, you can cut the cake baked in the bowl into two layers and then have two layers of filling with three layers of cake. Just saying.) Top with cake baked in the bowl. Using a spatula, spread sweetened whipped topping all over cake. Finally, crumble scraps and press into whipped topping. If your scraps a little too moist, you can spread them over a baking sheet and dry them out a bit in a warmed oven.

Messy cakes are always the most delicious in my opinion!

What cake did you used to eat growing up?

Banana Bread

Happy Almost 2011!

I wish I had the time or the energy to really sit down and reflect on this past year at this moment but the past few days have been filled with snowboarding aka falling down a lot and being sore a lot. The good news, however, is that I think I finally have it down so I can at least reasonably go down a mountain with less than a dozen falls and less than half of those as actual falls. (I often sit down as a way of stopping but since this is purposeful I don’t see it as falling per se.. Go with it.) So it’s actually been good but my entire body hurts more at this point in time than it has ever hurt before. Is it strange that I’m proud of having beat up my body sufficiently enough to inflict such pain on myself?

In general though it’s been a great year. I started this blog and have met some wonderful people on it. I’ve pushed myself harder than ever before and I’m excited to see what the new year brings to Small Town Oven.

My blog resolution for 2011: Create a new recipe each month to share on STO.

Let’s hope I keep it!

In other reflections, I started my final year of medical school, began interviewing for residency positions (meaning a job), went to several weddings of people I love and adore, took a trip to Vegas, vacationed in London and Ireland, got a Kindle, and had some great times with some great people.

It was a good year but I’m ready for the new one to begin.

But not without my banana bread!!

This banana bread is a completely fantastic way to use up those bananas you have sitting on your counter getting older and darker by the minute. It’s soft, banana-y, and creates a wonderful crust (for your 93-year-old grandmothers who enjoy the burnt parts). It’s great for breakfast, mid-day snacks, or midnight munchies. Bring it to friends’ houses, family gatherings, or eat it all yourself and don’t tell a soul. I won’t tell. You have a little under 12 hours before that New Year’s Resolution hits. Just enough time to bake, eat, and hide the evidence!

Banana Bread
from Mary Sue Milliken & Susan Feniger via Food Network

Makes 1 9″ loaf (or an 8″ loaf with lots of crust).

Ingredients
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 over-ripe bananas
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease loaf pan however which way you like (I used butter).

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with the milk and ground cinnamon. Set aside. In another medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Then add in the banana mixture and combine. Stir in the flour mixture until the flour just disappears. Pour into loaf pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out (or keep it in the pan which is what we do).

See you in the New Year!

Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding

REMINDER: CUPCAKE HERO JULY [COCONUT] ENTRIES DUE JULY 17TH!! Email me at smalltownoven[at]gmail[dot]com!

onto the entry..

No flour. No baking powder. No baking soda. Sugar but only in the form of packets.

You have just entered the twilight zone.

Just kidding.

You’re actually in the studio I’m staying in for the month.

I KNOW.

Such a place exists? you may ask. And my answer would be Sad, but true.

So what is a girl to do when she yearns to bake all day every day but has an empty kitchen smaller than her closet at home??

[Back story: I’m staying with a friend in NYC because I’m doing a rotation here for a month. She lives in a studio with a kitchen that actually has less than a square foot of provided counter space. I’m talking fridge, sink, stove. She installed a countertop that is on a hinge so you can fold it down when you don’t want it which works because you can’t really move when it’s set up. It’s tiny. So she doesn’t cook. Or bake.]

I racked my brain for ideas on how I could get my fix. And I though PUDDING!

What a fantastic idea! I needed to buy a few ingredients, yes, but not nearly as many as if I were to make cookies, cupcakes, etc which were all first on my list.

So here I am with pudding. And oreos.

Because for some reason I’m obsessed with oreos these days. No lectures on how obscenely unhealthy they are for you please.

If you’ve ever had dirt pudding, it’s usually made with vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and oreos. I decided to make it a cinnamon pudding and add in some bananas to make it a little fancier. Can I tell you? This version of dirt pudding is delicious. The cinnamon pudding itself is unbelievable and could very well stand on its own but add it to some oreos, bananas, and whipped topping? Good gravy we have a winner!

If you’re low on flour, or even if you’re not, let me introduce you to my friend Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding. BEST friend, in fact.

Cinnamon Pudding
adapted from Sweet World

Ingredients
2/3 c sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 cups milk (I used whole)
3 egg yolks
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk. Then add the yolks and cinnamon stick.

Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with whisk, approximately 7-8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly 1 to 2 minutes, until pudding is thick. Remove the pan from the stove.

Strain the pudding into a medium bowl. Add the cinnamon and whisk until the cinnamon is completely mixed in. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Leave the pudding on the counter for 30 minutes, until lukewarm then place in the refrigerator to completely cool down.

Cinnamon Banana Dirt Pudding
a smalltownoven original

1 recipe chilled Cinnamon Pudding (see above)
2-3 large bananas
1/2 tub Cool Whip
1 package oreos

Instructions
Crush oreos in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, frying pan, etc. Set aside. Slice bananas however thickness desired. Set aside.

In a serving container (I used an 8×8 brownie pan because it’s all I could find) layer the oreos, pudding, whipped topping, and bananas. Continue layering with oreos, pudding, whipped topping, and finish with oreos, reserving a handful or two. I only did one layer of bananas. It’s up to you.

Chill for several hours before serving to allow oreos to soften. Just before serving, top with remaining crushed cookies for a little crunch.

Simple but delicious!

No-Bake White Chocolate Pie

My mood is much MUCH better today than it was a few days ago. I apologize for that quite uncharacteristic sob story. Honestly, one of the lowest moments I’ve ever had. Except for the time frame of lasting only a few days, I could have been clinically diagnosed with depression.

You can tell I feel much better when the nerd in me makes an appearance.

You know I was never really THAT bad since I kept a running tab of how many criteria for depression I filled at any given time.

Anyway, a big part of my stress and depress(ion) was this here weekend. While pulling my full load on my medicine clerkship (which is killing me by the way)  PLUS make a diaper cake for a friend’s baby shower (have you ever seen one of these? They’re adorable but quite time-consuming to make!), create some cupcakes for the same shower (settled on lychee mango.. will be sharing that recipe soon because they were a hit!), and coming up with something/making something for Boy’s BBQ tomorrow (going to do my first Daring Bakers challenge!! eeeeeeek!). And now that we’re halfway through the weekend and the shower’s over, I can rest a little easier.

And I am.

By parking myself in front of my parents’ humongo flat-screen with my laptop on which I’m doing questions. I am! So far.. I’ve done 22 in 2 hours. Clearly, my efficiency needs improvement. Or the Travel Channel needs to stop showing their Extreme series. Extreme Pig Outs and Extreme Fast Food? So interesting. Have you seen the monstrosities people actually eat? Like here. THE HEART ATTACK GRILL! Insanity.

This probably won’t give you a heart attack and at 350 calories per serving (the recipe makes 8), it’s really pretty healthy compared to  the 7,000 calorie burger I just saw on television (it looked delicious in case you’re wondering).

In honor of the BBQ tomorrow, I’m posting a pie I made for another recent outdoor event. It’s a bit like a cheesecake but much lighter, takes much less time, and is still heavenly. Now that I think about it, you don’t have to stop at bananas. Why not go for strawberries? Or kiwi fruit? Bacon? Freudian slip. Point is, it’s very easily adapted to whatever suits your taste.

No-Bake White Chocolate Pie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients
4 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sour cream
1/2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 banana, thinly sliced
One ready-made 9″ graham-cracker crust [You can make one and bake it up but I just bought one. My guilt was made up for by time saved.]

Instructions
Warm the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of lightly simmering water. Remove from heat when only partially melted; stir to melt completely.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the chocolate, then the sour cream. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until firm; gently fold into chocolate mixture.

Assembly:
Arrangethe banana slices on the crust. [I’ve also made one with toffee chips. Sprinkle about 1-2 oz of toffee chips on top of the bananas. Not too many or it’ll take over the pie!] Top with the filling. Decorate with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings. Strawberries perhaps?  Chill at least 2 hours.

Yayyyyyyy PIE!

– Sharlene

Roasted Banana & Pecan Mini-Cupcakes

“I think you’ve outdone yourself this time.” – Boy

And I had.

Do you ever get into a rut? This week was my rut.

I was just sick of the same ol’ same ol’. I wanted different new different new! I wanted a change. Job/school, Boy, everything else. It was the same thing every day. I was tired of going to the hospital at a certain hour, eating lunch at a certain hour,  waiting for the clock to hit the certain hour so I could go home. (I’m on research elective right now so I don’t even have much interaction with other human beings. It’s awful lonely.) I was tired of coming home, cooking, eating in front of the laptop/television, and then continuing research. I was tired of eating leftovers for lunch the next day. I was tired in general.

So what did I do? I baked.

I had two overripe bananas and I decided that this time they wouldn’t be turned into pancakes (my usual go-to) or even bread (everyone else’s go-to so I have it often enough even though I don’t make it). They were going to be my change. They would bring me out of my rut.

I looked around the internet ahem-myfavoriteblogs-ahem for something to strike my eye but nothing really did. Breads and pancakes were rampant. I WANTED DIFFERENT NEW!

And then.. these cupcakes appeared. (Well, not really appeared. More like, I literally looked around my room and saw Martha Stewart’s Cupcake book, flipped through it, and saw these.) And while Martha has her own banana pecan cupcake, the idea of roasting my bananas was enough to pull me out of my rut alone. Making them tiny and adding the candied pecans I made earlier in the week? A stroke of genius.

These really are pull-you-out-of-a-rut-cupcakes. Mini-cupcakes are the perfect size for a pick-me-up without concern for thighs, abs, or chicken arms. And if you keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, they turn into a delicious cold treat when New Jersey decides to be over 90F in April and you haven’t turned on the a/c yet. Win!

Roasted Banana Mini-Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting & Candied Pecans
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 48 mini-cupcakes.
[I halved this recipe so pictures will be half what you’d see if you make the full recipe.]

Ingredients
For cupcakes:
3 ripe bananas
2 c cake flour, sifted [or all-purpose flour + cornstarch!]
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For frosting:
2 1/2 confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For pecans:
See recipe here.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F. Place whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Peels will darken. It will smell divine. Remove bananas from oven and let cool before peeling. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a bowl, on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Set aside.

On medium-high speed with a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add roasted bananas. They’ll just fall apart. It’s glorious. Add flour in 3 batches alternating with the sour cream in 2 batches, just combining the ingredients before adding the next batch. Beat in vanilla. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter at a time until all incorporated. Divide batter among a pre-lined mini-cupcake pan. 3/4 full is ideal. Press 3 pecan halves into each mini-cupcake. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

While baking, make the frosting! On medium with a hand or stand mixer, combine all the ingredients until smooth. So easy!

To finish: When cupcakes are cooled, use your favorite tip or plastic baggie with the corner cut off to pipe frosting. Top with banana slices or a whole pecan. Eat a minimum of 5. Wash down with milk.

Smiles.

– Sharlene

Banana Chai Cupcakes

Whenever I make something, anything, Boy’s the first (and sometimes the only) taste-tester. Part of it is obligation, I’m sure. Somewhere in that rulebook of relationships I’m sure it says something about trying every creation your Other makes without regard to how fat it will make you, how much you hate the idea of carrots, or how you’re already so full the thought of another bite makes you queasy.

(Incidentally, I throw the relationship rulebook card out there quite often. It contains other rules such as: Don’t go to the gym too much more often than your Other for they will feel whale-sized and Once the proper amount of facial scruff has been identified adhere to such guidelines for all date-like events especially when they involve your Other’s closest friends and Always order dessert even if you’re full because your Other is too embarrassed to order that molten chocolate something-or-other by herself. And yes, 75% of rules in the rulebook involve food or the aftermath of food. That’s just how the world works.)

Anyway..

Boy’s become quite the taste-tester. He used to strictly adhere to the Only say positive things when she asks ‘how do I look’ or ‘how does this taste’ or ‘can we watch Millionaire Matchmaker’ but now he has evolved into giving his opinion every time – positive or negative, but always in a I’m still scared of you so I’m saying this in the nicest way possible way. (He legitimately likes watching Millionaire Matchmaker though. Completely hooked.) So when I made these cupcakes for him in an impromptu birthday surprise and he sang their praises, I knew I had done well. He had an exam that week and was too stressed to do much beyond studying but the cupcakes were a welcome treat. He even asked, “Do I have to share these [with my 3 male roommates who will surely gobble them up before I get home tomorrow]?” Obviously I told him he could do with them as he pleased. Said cupcakes remained holed up in his room for the remainder of their lives which was not very long at all.

So when a friend asked if I’d help her bake for her sister’s wedding shower, I knew I wanted her to try these and made them this past weekend. Win number two. They’ll be perfect for the shower.

Banana Chai Cupcakes

from Only Creative Opportunities

Makes 24.

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. McCormick’s chai spice blend
3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 4-ounce jar banana baby food
3 small bananas, chopped

Frosting:
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

[I halved the recipe this past weekend but the full recipe is posted.]

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spice and set aside. Cream the butter, white, and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla, buttermilk, and baby food. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the chopped banana.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Wait in anticipation and make the frosting!

Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and powdered sugar, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar mixture and vanilla. Continue beating until frosting is desired consistency, chilling in refrigerator if necessary.

I just garnished it with some brown sugar for kicks. Delicious!

– Sharlene