Monday, June 29, 2015

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting


A couple of weeks ago my sister had a going away dinner for her son, my nephew (aka the recent college graduate) who was moving to Pennsylvania to begin his new job. Dessert was going to be Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. As is often the case when my sister makes a dessert, I sometimes think 'hmmm, where does she find these interesting amalgamation of flavors?' (the answer is Epicurious). Sure I knew the Banana and Peanut Butter combination in the form of a sandwich had been made famous by and attributed to Elvis, but in a cupcake? At some point I probably need to stop second guessing my younger sister and put an end, or at least allow for a temporary reprieve, to some of the sibling rivalries that have permeated our relationship over the years. Who knew this long over due epiphany would come from a bite of the Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting.


I should have taken more than a bite of these cupcakes. Fortunately I had some bananas ripening at home. Delayed gratification is better than no gratification at all. 

If I were to do one thing differently the next time I make the Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting it would be to use a cupcake pan and paper liners. As much as I love the look of these stand alone paper cupcake cups, the baking time is slightly longer and they make it a little harder to eat the cupcake. These are the kind of cupcakes you want to be able to tear into quickly and easily.


The riper the bananas the deeper, the better the flavor. 


Depending on the size of your bananas, you will need either 2 (really large) or 3 (medium) in order to get one cup of mashed bananas.  


Like most cake recipes, wet and dry ingredients are alternately added to the butter/sugar base. 


I have watched more than enough episodes of 'Cupcake Wars' to know using an ice cream scoop creates uniform sized (aka perfect) cupcakes. Kitchen tools generally fall into three categories: 'don't waste your money', 'nice to have' and 'must have'. In addition to being one of those definite 'must haves', the ice cream scoop makes the portioning of cupcake batter seem effortless.


Quite possibly the best description I could give for the peanut butter frosting is 'wicked'. While not a word one would normally put in the list of culinary adjectives, there are no other words better at giving you a sense of how ambrosial, heavenly, divine, scrumptious, this frosting is. 


How else would one expect cream cheese, butter, creamy peanut butter, confectionary sugar and a pinch of sea salt to taste? 


Using a pastry bag with your favorite tip or simply an offset spatula, the consistency of this frosting could not be more perfect for spreading.


The original recipe for these cupcakes suggested they be topped with chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts,  however, after frosting the cupcakes they seemed to scream 'sprinkle me'!  If you are looking to pay homage to Elvis, top with some crispy, fried bacon. 

Recipe
Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (An oh so slight adaptation to the Matt Lewis/Renato Poliafito recipe created for Bon Appetit)

Ingredients
Cupcakes
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 very large ripe bananas or 3 medium (1 cup), peeled and mashed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, from a room temperature egg

Frosting
1 1/2 cups confectionary sugar, sifted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth, creamy peanut butter, recommend JIF (do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
pinch of sea salt
Optional: Chocolate sprinkles, crispy fried bacon, chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts, etc.

Directions
Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Position rack in center of oven. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. Mash bananas with a fork until smooth in another bowl. Mix in sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
4. Using either a standing mixer with a paddle attachment or hand held mixer, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy (approximately 3 minutes).
5. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended.
6. Beginning with flour mixture, add in 3 additions, alternating with two additions of the banana mixture, beating until blended after each addition.
7. Divide batter equally among the prepared muffin cups using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop.
8. Bake cupcakes for 20-26 minutes, until lightly browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center of each comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting. Note: If using standard paper liners, you should have a yield of 12 cupcakes.

Frosting
1. In a medium sized bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy.
2. Add in sifted confectionary sugar, beat until well blended.
3. Using a pastry bag, pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Or spread frosting using an offset spatula.
4. Serve plain or decorate with chocolate sprinkles or chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts.


Fullersburg Woods (Illinois) shortly after the sunrise.


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