banana bread cupcakes

February 12, 2011 § 8 Comments

Our freezer is full. Not just a little bit full, not just completely full, but is finally at that point where no matter how hard you push, and no matter how logically you reorganize, there is simply no physical space for that one last thing to fit. I’m not a huge freezer girl, but this is starting to cramp my style.

Part of the problem is that I seem to enjoy filling the freezer with awkwardly shaped objects and then leaving them there for several months. Last time I tried to shove one tiny tupperware into the freezer, a whole bunch of stuff fell out (bouncing wildly across the kitchen floor), and behind all of the clutter were those bananas I forgot about! And that is why we have no freezer space. So I had to use the bananas immediately.

I was looking for a recipe that would give me fluffy, cakelike cupcakes, and I completely missed the mark. These cupcakes are dense, moist and banana bread-y. Luckily that’s pretty delicious too. The cupcakes were cute and tasty, but the best variation was when I microwaved the ganache and poured the warm chocolate all over the extra little cake I made with leftover batter. If you don’t need to transport your dessert, definitely do it this way – just unwrap the cupcakes first to avoid accidentally eating the paper in your haste to devour the chocolate. Not that I would ever do that.

Banana Bread Cupcakes with Ganache – adapted from Martha Stewart
If you can serve this warm, you should seriously consider remelting the ganache and pouring it on top – it’s crazy good.
Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
    1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas)
    2 large eggs
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Ganache:

    4 oz good-quality milk chocolate
    2 oz dark chocolate
    2.5 oz heavy cream, gently warmed
    2.5 tablespoons butter, warm room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

For ganache, gently melt chocolate in microwave or on top of double boiler. Add cream and stir until smooth. Let sit until no longer warm, about 15 minutes. Gently whisk in butter, without stirring too vigorously so as to avoid forming air bubbles. Use immediately or wait for it to thicken over the next hour, depending on the consistency you want to work with.

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black-bottom cupcakes

March 10, 2010 § 3 Comments

My roommates and I finally decided to man up and clean out the fridge. It has gone from overflowing with unidentified substances, to neatly organized and mildly OCD. We actually have our own shelves now! My roommates’ shelves have sensible items like produce and condiments, whereas mine is pretty much restricted to things containing the word ‘cream’ (heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese….). My shelf clearly wins.

Having cream cheese on hand is especially important if you like to whip up birthday treats for people at the last second. Although deliciousness is always my main priority, portability is also an issue. These cupcakes are perfect: a moist, chocolatey cupcake is stuffed with a rich cream cheese filling, studded with dark chocolate chunks. No frosting needed! They can be stacked, toppled, and they still arrive in pretty decent shape. Also, they’re very very yummy, and always well received. An extra cupcake went to my roommate, who reported: “The texture is perfectly fluffy and omg there are chocolate-y bits in there! However, one major issue with this cupcake is that there’s only one of it here, or was.” Luckily the recipe makes twelve, so you can avoid this problem for approximately one day.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes – from The Great Book of Chocolate

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used bittersweet chips)

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling: Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat to 350°F. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line the tin with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring until just smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly. This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed. These moist treats will keep well unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

perfect winter cupcakes

November 15, 2009 § 10 Comments

cupcake1

I made beautiful cupcakes today. I wanted to post about them immediately, but couldn’t think of a single intelligent thing to say. After attempting in vain to come up with something, I concluded that intelligence is a bit too much to expect from me on a Sunday, and I would just put pretty pictures.

platter

But slowly as the day meandered on, I kept wanting to describe the glories of these wonderful cupcakes. I bought fresh cranberries for the first time ever, and they’re gorgeous and enticing and really gross if you just eat them straight from the fridge. Turning them into baked goods, however, is genius. They cut through the sweetness of most desserts, and when you bake them into cupcakes the results are enough to compel one to write a blog post, however uninspired one might be.

ingredients

The concrete details: these cupcakes are adapted from multiple sources, enough that I feel comfortable calling them my own invention. The base is a pear-cranberry spice cake with white chocolate chunks: this probably could have passed for a muffin until I slathered it with frosting, which I am prone to doing. The cake was moist and sweet and punctuated with the tartness from the cranberries – I never realized how much I love cranberries! It came out great. I iced it with a white-chocolate cream cheese frosting, because I wanted some tanginess to counter the white chocolate. Then I topped them with candied cranberries, to look icy and winter-appropriate. I’m really happy with how these turned out: the result was extremely delicious, and the cake itself is pretty quick to make. I have to admit that it got a little more time-consuming as I added frivolities, but these would be great unfrosted too. Given that easy option, don’t miss out on the deliciousness!

Update:
I entered these cupcakes into the Bon Appétit contest: please go vote for me here!

cupcake5

Pear-Cranberry Spice Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Cranberries – adapted from Epicurious, Cupcake Bakeshop, and Key Ingredient

Yield: I got 24 regular cupcakes plus 6 miniatures

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Bosc pears (1 pound), diced
  • 1 cup cranberries (thawed if frozen)
  • 3.5 ounces (100 g) white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined well. At low speed, mix in pears, cranberries, and chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until incorporated.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners until two-thirds full. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes for regular cupcakes and 15 minutes for minis. Cool completely before frosting.

At this point, your cupcakes should look like this:

unfrosted

Candied cranberries

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve sugar in water. Lower heat to barely a simmer. Add cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove from heat and strain cranberries, discarding liquid. When cranberries are cool enough to handle, roll in granulated sugar and place on waxed paper until ready to use.

Frosting

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, plus more if desired
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring periodically. Allow to cool for 2 minutes or so.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Beat in cream cheese thoroughly. Beat in the melted white chocolate.

Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat at low speed, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like (I stayed at 2, and refrigerated briefly before using).

Note: Once you get into melting white chocolate, you need to make sure your chocolate is real, and not the sneaky artificial stuff. I used Callebaut, which is ridiculous, but Green and Black’s and Lindt also make good bars.

Second note:
although most cupcakes should be stored at room temperature, these do better in the fridge. The cream cheese frosting holds up better, and because they’re made with oil instead of butter, they stay soft.

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