Be forewarned that I’ll be in cupcake mode here for the next 6 weeks! See, I’m attending Cupcake Camp New Haven on September 18th as a baker and I need to cut my list of about 300 choices of cupcakes down to just 4. It won’t be an easy task (sigh) but I know the students working in my office for the summer will appreciate helping me narrow the choices down.
We started off the journey to cupcakedom with these Chunky Hubby cupcakes. Remember the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Chubby Hubby flavor? Peanut butter-filled-chocolate-covered-pretzels…yum! Well this cupcake is a deconstructed version of Chubby Hubby plus B&J’s Chunky Monkey flavor which adds banana to the mix. Double yum! I upped the ante and roasted the bananas before adding them to the cupcake batter and subbed in a some brown sugar for some of the white sugar. The results of this already fantastic-sounding cupcake was truly a delight with the roasted banana and brown sugar. So you’ve got the roasted bananas, the obvious pretzel on top, some peanut butter frosting (which, if you haven’t tried this recipe yet, it’s a must), and a hidden surprise of chocolate ganache that fills the cupcake. Does life get any better than this?!
sources: idea from Pink Parsley Catering
cupcake recipe: adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
ganache: adapted from Tartlette
frosting:adapted from Ina Garten
For the Roasted Bananas:
1 1/2 cups bananas – sliced into 1/2″ pieces – about 4 bananas plus an extra banana for garnish, if desired
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp butter, cubed small
For the Cupcakes:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
11 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
Roasted Bananas: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a shallow baking dish, toss the sliced bananas with brown sugar and bits of butter until bananas are well-coated with sugar. Roast for 20 minutes, turning the bananas after 10 minutes. When the bananas have deeply browned and are caramelized, transfer them to a medium-sized bowl. Be careful, the bananas and sugar will be very hot. Spray a potato masher with a light coating of baking spray (like Pam) and mash the bananas up. Set aside to cool almost entirely, stirring every so often to keep them from clumping up.
Cupcakes: When the banana have finished roasting, turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin/cupcake pans with paper liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together on medium speed until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs one at a time, and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl again and beat in the roasted bananas just until they are combined with the batter. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating between the two in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl again and mix on low for a few seconds to ensure the mixture is well-combined.
Fill the paper liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, rotating the pans 180 degrees after 15 minutes. Remove the pans to wires rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and allow them to cool completely on the racks.
Ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Pour it over the chocolate, and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes. Add the butter to the bowl, and whisk until smooth. Allow to sit at room temperature until it reaches a consistency suitable for piping, or refrigerate, being sure to stir every 10 minutes.
Peanut Butter Frosting: Place the confectioners’ sugar, butter, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the cream and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
To assemble: Use a small paring knife to cut out a small cone from the top of each cupcake. Cut the end off a pastry bag fitted (a 1/4″ hole is suggested), fill with the ganache, and pipe each cupcake full of ganache. Frost as desired with peanut butter frosting. Top with fresh bananas and chocolate-dipped pretzels.
Note: The proportions in the above recipes make enough for 22-24 cupcakes with plenty of frosting for 24-26 well-frosted cupcakes.