Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Banana Nut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I am not a fan of banana cake, I never have been. In my experience and, trust me when I tell you that it is considerable, I have always found banana cake to be overly moist, way too heavy, and sometimes sunken in the middle. My guess as to the reason for this is that banana cake makers are using the wrong bananas. Your basic, piled-up-in-mounds at the grocery store banana has a high moisture content when it gets ripe enough for cake usage. Baby bananas are not only sweeter, yielding a better flavor, but a bit drier, and, as such, are the superior choice to use when baking.
I am still cooking and baking from my gift basket, and the bananas were beginning to eye me warily. I wasn't in the mood for cake or banana bread, so thought I'd make a small batch of cupcakes and top them with what remained of the cream cheese frosting from my carrot cake (Yes, it lasted that long!), and then give them a hint of fall with a light dusting of pumpkin pie spice. Success! These were so yummy, but I do have a caveat. If you are looking for a light cupcake, this isn't it. The texture here is moist, but not too moist, and dense, but not overly so. It is a delicious, banana-laden mouthful, perfectly complemented by the frosting and spice. You have to try them! 
Banana Nut Cupcakes
with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
2 extra-large eggs
Melissa's baby bananas, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Pumpkin Pie Spice, for dusting

To make cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350ยบF. Spray a 6-well jumbo muffin tin with Pam, or line with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer place butter and sugar. Beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon, beating until just combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the bananas and nuts. Do not over mix.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill each well three-quarters full. Bake in the center of the oven until the tops turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean, 25-28 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool in pan. Carefully remove to a wire rack to complete cooling. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting and dust lightly with pumpkin pie spice.

 Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In the work bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  With mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Add vanilla and beat to blend. Frost cooled cupcakes and dust with pumpkin pie spice.

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