Mini Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I felt like baking today and the two brown bananas sitting on my counter prompted me to create these little gems. These cupcakes were another ode to the good ole peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich of my childhood. I opted for mini cupcakes, mainly because I saw some cute little mini cupcake cups at Publix (and bought them, of course). To be honest, I’ve never made mini cupcakes, and thought it would be fun to do something different. Turns out, these cupcakes work perfectly in the mini variety. I know this because I had extra batter (after making 48 little guys) and made 6 standard sized cupcakes. I tried them both, and I think it’s because the little ones provide the perfect ratio of cake to frosting (and you can eat them in one or two bites), that they actually tasted better. The frosting is reminiscent of Reese’s peanut butter cup filling (can you say amazing!) and the light banana flavored cake provides a nice contrast to that richness.  Brogan scarfed down 6 of these things, which I’m certain contributed to his extra-crazy demeanor all day. You’d think I’d know better, but nope, I just keep on baking.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Mini Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cupcakes
2 really ripe bananas
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used all natural, unsweetened)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
3 tbsp half and half (or more to reach desired consistency)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2.) In an electric mixer, combine bananas and butter. Add sugar, vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat until well combined.
3.) Set mixer to lowest setting and slowly add flour mixture and buttermilk. Do not over beat.
4.) Using a large table spoon, spoon the batter into the cupcake cups until they are about 2/3 – 3/4 full.
5.) Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Yields 60 mini cupcakes.

For the frosting…
1.) In an electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter, honey and vanilla until well combined.
2.) Slowly add powdered sugar. Frosting will be very thick. Add the half and half to thin it out, using more if needed.
3.) Add to a pastry bag (or ziploc gallon size bag with the corner cut out) to pipe frosting on cooled cupcakes. Start by piping the frosting around the outer perimeter of the cupcake, working your way toward the middle.

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Peanut butter frosting

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Chocolate Espresso Cake

Baking sweets is starting to be an every weekend occurrence.  Whereas I used to be immune to the smell of something sweet and chocolaty baking in the oven, the sweet tooth I gained with my last pregnancy is still with me. Bummer. I asked Brogan what he wanted to bake today and he said birthday cake. Well, it’s no one’s birthday, so we just made cake.

I modified a German Chocolate cake recipe I found in one of Blake’s chefy cookbooks by adding some instant coffee. I once watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa and Ina Garten swore by adding a little instant coffee to chocolate desserts because it would enhance the chocolate flavor. She was right. I took it a step further and added some coffee to the chocolate frosting too. I attempted to make just a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but perhaps I added a little more instant coffee that Ina… and what I ended up with was definitely a chocolate espresso cake. I’m not complaining.

This cake is very light and moist. The coffee is more prominent in the frosting, but the whole thing is just perfect together. We topped it with shaved Hershey bar… just because.  I’ve not made many cakes from scratch, and this one was very easy to do well. This cake also allowed me to hone my icing skills – I finally got it! See below for what I did to properly ice this cake. Hope you enjoy!

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Chocolate Espresso Cake

1 cup sifted flour (or a tad less for “lazy” flour – that’s what I do)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)
Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (for garnish on top of cake)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour two cake pans.
2.) In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and instant coffee. Set aside.
3.) Using an electric mixer, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Slowly add eggs with mixer on slowest setting.
4.) Alternate adding flour/cocoa mixture and buttermilk. Beat just until all ingredients are fully incorporated, but do not over-beat.
5.) Divide batter equally between the two cake pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Chocolate Espresso Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp instant coffee
1 box powdered sugar (16 oz)
1 tbsp half and half

1.) Cream butter and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add cocoa powder and instant coffee. Slowly add powdered sugar and then add half and half. Beat until smooth.

To frost the cake…

1.) Place first layer of cake on a cake plate. Place a scoop of frosting on the cake and spread evenly. This one doesn’t have to be pretty.
2.) Place the second layer on top of the first. Make sure the side that was in the bottom of the cake plate is face up (it frosts easier). Start with icing the sides of the cake. Put a decent amount of icing on an offset spatula and rotate cake spreading frosting in a straight line around the cake. Apply more frosting about every 4 to 5 inches.
3.) Using the remaining frosting, place large spoonfuls around the top of the cake. Starting in the center of the cake, spread the in a circular motion toward the outside edges. Make sure the frosting stays thick, or else it will pull up the top of the cake.
4.) Using a large knife, shave Hershey’s bar by chopping it very thin. Then chop perpendicular to the first cut to achieve fine shavings. Sprinkle chocolate shaving on top of cake.

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Chocolate frosting

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookie Dough Frosting

I decided to do some more experimenting with cupcakes last weekend (yes, I’m behind on the food posting!)  The chocolate cupcake was basic, but the star of this show was the cookie dough frosting!  I found this on Pinterest and had to try it out – success!  It is definitely not your typical frosting – it is exactly like chocolate chip cookie dough without the eggs.

I modified the recipe slightly – I opted for a little less flour.  Next time I make it, I will add a little white sugar too to sweeten it up a little more.  These were a great variation from your standard cupcake icing, especially if you are a cookie dough lover!

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Cookie Dough Frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 to 8 tbsp milk
2 cups mini chocolate chips

1.) Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer. Add vanilla.
2.) In small batches, add flour and salt and mix until combined.
3.) Add milk until desired consistency is achieved.
4.) Ice cooled cupcakes.

Recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything