Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nasty, Brutish, Short, Cupcakes: A banana's life

I had this idea that I would start eating more fruit, and less sugar. To ease the transition, I decide to start with bananas, the world's most sugar-like fruit, as my snack of choice. Then I proceeded to leave the bananas sitting in my fruit bowl* until they transitioned from perfectly ripe yellow to that mottled shade of brown that signals the end of their snack food lifetime.

And their resurrection as a dessert ingredient extraordinaire.

Baby Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
My only possible excuse is that I signed up to bring dessert to a school function, so I knew I wouldn't eat all of these**.   Man, are they tasty.  Beyond moist, light, not dense, just sweet enough, and with a little touch of cinnamon.  Banana bread recipe from DamGoodSweet (a scrumptious cookbook of New Orleans desserts by David Guas), cupcake-ized and frosted by me.

For the cupcakes:
1 3/4 c. flour, plus extra for dusting muffin tins
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 very ripe bananas
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened, plus extra for prepping muffin tins
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 c. buttermilk

For the frosting:
1 3oz package of cream cheese
1/3 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350.   Prepare about 48 mini muffin cups by either coating with softened butter, then dusting with flour, or spraying with a baking cooking spray that contains flour.  (I do the latter).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt, and set aside.  In another bowl, mash the bananas and the lemon juice together with a fork or a potato masher.  Don't worry about making a smooth should have some lumps.  

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter, the sugars and the vanilla at low speed until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating on medium speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything's nicely blended.

Reduce mixer speed to low, then add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  Blend until just incorporated, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk.  Blend that in at low speed, then add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the rest of the buttermilk, and the last of the dry ingredients, mixing just 'til combined before adding the next part.   Finally, scrape in the banana mixture, and blend only until combined, no more than 10-15 seconds.  All this low mixing will keep your cupcakes super moist!

Using a small ice cream scoop or a spoon, fill muffin cups almost to the top.   Bake for 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown.   Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to baking racks and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting.  Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and cinnamon with an electric mixer until fluffy.   Slowly blend in the powdered sugar, until the frosting is creamy and spreadable.   If you need to thin it out, add a little milk or cream. Frost cooled baby cupcakes with a dab of frosting each (you may have extra frosting, but I won't tell), and serve.

* That fruit bowl is very attractive, visually, so I'd hate to spoil the effect by actually eating any of the items in it.  Of course, I don't hesitate to plow through the limes when cocktail hour comes around.
** There is an interesting karma multiplier effect in banana reincarnation:  Three dead bananas make 48 newborn baby cupcakes!

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