Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Every once in a while I get an overwhelming urge to bake something. Usually that something involves frosting. (What can I say? I was a child who’d eat the frosted top half of the cupcake and discard the cake-only bottom half!) When the urge hits, my brain goes in a million different directions contemplating what I should make and what to put in it.. the downside is that we usually do not have all of the ingredients needed to make whatever it is I want first. A problem, you say? Of course not! This is when I begin to haphazardly “forage” through the cupboards for undiscovered goodies.  I find all kinds of random food items that I’d completely forgotten we had and use them as a basis for the recipe.

 

Last night was indeed one of those times, and a particularly indecisive one at that. What did I want? Well, cupcakes.. I knew that for sure. But what kind? Hmm.. [opens up the baking cupboard].. chocolate chip with vanilla frosting? [keeps digging through bags from the bulk bin] .. Chocolate with candied ginger? [pulls out mystery bag] Oh.. what’s this? Banana chips! Oh, definitely using the banana chips!

 

 

Okay, so it was decided. Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, topped with banana chips. I had one problem: We didn’t have any cocoa powder. I turned to the good ‘ol Google search to find out if I could use melted chocolate chips instead, and the general consensus was “maybe.” I decided to just try it and go for it – nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

 

 

I’m sure you can tell by now that my experiment was a success! I made a half batch of the recipe (primarily because there’s 2 of us here, and also because I didn’t want to waste a whole batch if they turned out gross.)

 

 

I started with the basic vanilla cake recipe and modified it by adding 2 oz. of melted Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips, and a half of a mashed banana. Overall, I would say these needed more chocolate, and maaaybe a little more banana. I can’t decide if I liked the light taste of the banana and just needed wanted more chocolate (because really, who doesn’t?) or if the sugary sweet frosting was just a little too overpowering compared to the cake part. I’m not sure. It’s still a toss up. I suppose cocoa powder would have added a more intense chocolate flavor, but then I would decidedly need to add more banana. Either way, they still tasted delicious!

 

Here’s the basic vanilla cake recipe; it’s the same one that I used for the lemon curd stuffed cupcakes. I used a half batch of this recipe, and added about 1/4 C. more flour, 2 oz. melted chocolate chips plus 1/2 of a banana, mashed. I’ll add bold notes where I added both of those ingredients.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Recipe by Glorious Treats
Yields- 15-16 cupcakes
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk
(or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using)
Directions-
* Preheat oven to 350*F.
* In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
* In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, beat. (I added my mashed banana right after this step, and mixed it to blend.)
* Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Beat until just combined.  (I added the melted chocolate right after this, and mixed it on low speed just until it looked blended.) Scrape down the side of the bowl.
* The batter will be thin.   Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners.  Fill liners about 2/3 full.
* Bake cupcakes in pre-heated oven for 12-14 minutes. (I baked them for 16 minutes with consideration of the added banana mixture. They probably would have been done at 14 but I wanted the domed tops to stay raised.)

* Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.

* Frost as desired when fully cool.

 

 

I made a peanut butter frosting for these. Honestly, I have a bad habit of not measuring out my frosting ingredients at all. I know I started with 2 TB softened butter and mixed it on high speed with about 1/2 C smooth peanut butter. Then I alternated adding powdered sugar and milk until it reached the fluffy consistency that I wanted.  Eyeballing it, it was around 2 C powdered sugar and 1/4 C milk. But don’t go by my guidelines if you’re not experienced with making frostings and want a perfect recipe!

While I was waiting for the cupcakes to cool, I melted a little bit of the chocolate chips and drizzled some of it with a spoon onto waxed paper (decorative shapes!) Since I don’t have one of those lovely perfect WIDE frosting tips, I just used a big piece of wrapped up parchment paper to make a piping bag to frost the cupcakes.  The last step was to top each one with the chocolate shape and a banana chip. Ta-da! Tasty.

 

By the way, while I was making these I found more coconut in the cupboard and a lime in my fridge.. and almost abandoned the whole thing to make vanilla coconut lime cupcakes. Oh well, there’s always next time!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls

Today I realized that out of all the things I’ve made, cinnamon rolls never made it to the list. Shocking, since they are one of my favorite things to eat! I wanted something a little more adventurous than regular ‘ol cinnamon rolls, and noticed I had 2 very ripe bananas on the counter.. it was meant to be!

Given that I didn’t have a “go to” cinnamon roll recipe, I found one for pumpkin cinnamon rolls (which, by the way, looks delicious as well!) since it already had “extra” ingredients in the list and seemed like something I could work with if I wanted to add the banana, etc.

banana chocolate chip cinnamon rolls

They came out great! Hooray!

banana chocolate chip cinnamon rolls

I made a few changes to the recipe, but overall I used it as a guideline, and I did keep the delicious butter & brown sugar glaze!

Here’s the original recipe; I’ll note my changes next to the original text.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (*I used 1/2 cup mashed banana)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (*I did not add)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (*I did not add)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
2 cups bread flour [you can use regular all purpose flour but bread flour makes them lighter] (*I needed WAY more than this for some reason. At least a full cup more, just to get it to a consistency so that it was not sticking to absolutely everything! Even with the extra 1+ cup flour, the texture of the finished cinnamon rolls still turned out great!)
*1/3 cup chocolate chips (I added this in! I used Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chips)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
CARAMEL FROSTING
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 dash salt
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
Directions
1. In small saucepan, heat milk and 2 tablespoons butter just until warm and butter is almost melted, stirring constantly. In large mixer bowl, combine pumpkin (*banana), sugar, nutmeg (*if using), pumpkin pie spice (*if using), and salt. Add milk mixture and beat with electric mixer until well mixed. Beat in egg and yeast.
2. Add half of the flour to pumpkin (*banana) mixture. Beat mixture on low speed 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly (dough will be very soft). Turn into lightly greased bowl, then grease surface of dough lightly.
3. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Spray a surface with cooking spray or turn onto floured surface. Knead a few turns to form a smooth dough, sprinkling with enough additional flour to make dough easy enough to handle. Roll dough into 12×10 inch rectangle.
4. In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush surface of dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture *and chocolate chips (if using. I would recommend them for pumpkin or banana rolls! Yum!) Beginning with long side of dough, roll up jellyroll style. Pinch seam to seal. With sharp knife, cut roll into twelve 1- inch slices. Place rolls, cut side up, in greased 11X17 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Bake rolls at 350 degrees about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to waxed paper-lined wire rack. Cool 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with Caramel frosting. Makes 12 rolls.
Caramel Frosting:
In small saucepan, heat butter until melted. Stir in brown sugar and milk.
Stir in brown sugar and milk. Cook over medium low heat 1 minute.
Transfer to small mixer bowl and cool mixture. Stir in vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and confectioners’ sugar. Beat with electric mixer until well blended. If necessary, add more confectioners’ sugar for desired consistency.