Saturday, August 3, 2013

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Banana Cupcakes

Chocolate Chip. Buttermilk. Banana. Cupcakes.

Want a rich, homemade cupcake? Mom's banana bread? How about your grandmother's chocolate chip cookies, in case you're craving the whole From-My-Childhood Package? These are some good old-fashioned comfort cupcakes, with classic flavors rolled into one yummy dessert. And as if there wasn't enough nostalgia in each bite already, thick cream cheese frosting is spread right on top for a more rustic look.

I came up with these cupcakes with my nephew Jon, who actually doesn't like bananas. (He cringes if he so much as smells them near him.) Desserts are a great way to lightly veil "unappetizing" fruits and vegetables, like carrot and even zucchini! By involving Jon in the actual baking, it only heightened the appeal (and the anticipation!)

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We started off with a simple recipe for vanilla cupcakes, which already included buttermilk. I love adding buttermilk to cake batters, for a moist and tender cake, and there's just something about it that creates a more...homey...flavor.

Then, after asking my nephew what else he wanted, he immediately roared, "CHOCOLATE! CHIPS!" So in went a good scoopful of chocolate chips! Jon recently finished a Summer camp to prepare him for Kindergarten (AAAHHH! School already?!), and he's in that phase where he loves to count out everything. Measuring each ingredient was a great step for him to help me with.

The last important ingredient was...bananas! (I'm sure Jon heard a *DUN DUN DUN* go off in his mind.) Its flavor profile blends really well with vanilla and dark/semi-sweet chocolate, and the fruit also adds to the overall moisture of the cake.


I had Jon mash it with a fork until it was a fine puree. A food processor could've been used, but there was a "Conquer your fear!" metaphor that I was working on...inspirational stuff here...

Now, it's time to make the batter. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter. Beat at medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the sugar in 1/3 cup increments, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Next, add the eggs and 1/4 cup of banana one ingredient at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl and making sure they're completely incorporated after each addition.




Then, with the mixing speed on low, add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry ingredients, and stir until incorporated. Finally, fold the chocolate chips into the cake batter with a spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl during this final stir. Divide the batter into paper cup-lined muffin pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, then allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 8-10 minutes. Before frosting, transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.


At last, you can top the cupcakes with your favorite frosting. Vanilla or chocolate buttercream would work nicely, but I decided to put cream cheese frosting! The rich, tangy cream cheese accents all of the essential ingredients in the cupcake, from the buttermilk to the sweet banana. (I can happily report that Jon loved these!) When you're craving all of your childhood favorites, make this simple scrumptious dessert: Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Banana Cupcakes!

One last note: There will be no Mango Monday next week because I'll be with the kids in Disneyland! Follow along on Twitter or Instagram for photos, tips, and updates! :)



Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Banana Cupcakes (makes 16 cupcakes)

Print Recipe
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Cake Flour
1/2 tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
8 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large Eggs
1/4 cup (heaping) Mashed Banana (1 small, very ripe banana)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Buttermilk
1/2 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Bittersweet or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Cream Cheese Frosting (optional; recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Reserve 1 tbsp of the cake flour, then combine the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set the mixture aside.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter. Beat at medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the sugar in 1/3 cup increments, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Next, add the eggs and 1/4 cup of banana one ingredient at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl and making sure they're completely incorporated after each addition.
  4. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a measuring cup. Then, with the mixing speed on low, add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture. Begin and end with the dry ingredients, and stir until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Finally, toss and coat the chocolate chips with the reserved cake flour. Fold the chocolate chips into the cake batter with a spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl during this final stir.
  5. Divide the batter into a baking cup-lined muffin pan, about 2 tbsp of batter per cup. (You will have enough batter leftover from filling the first pan for 4 more cupcakes.) Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. 
  7. Once the cupcakes are completely room temperature, top with your favorite frosting! Serve, and enjoy!
Cream Cheese Frosting (frosts up to 16 cupcakes)
Ingredients:
4 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature (1 4-oz stick)
1 3/4 cups Powdered Sugar
1/8 tsp Fine Sea Salt 
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Heavy Whipping Cream
  1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the cream cheese. Beat for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add the butter, and beat for another 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy again. Add the powdered sugar, and beat just until incorporated.
  2. Stop the mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl and to add the salt and vanilla. Mix to incorporate. Then, add the heavy cream and whip on high speed for 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Spread about 1 tbsp of frosting on each cupcake.

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