Monday, April 18, 2011

Banana cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting.


[Sorry for the late post!]

It appears to be banana month around here. As a cheap poor college student who doesn't always have the time or the money to go out and buy ingredients, I've learned to make the most of what the dining halls have to offer. They've had a surplus of bananas lately, thus the muffins and now the cupcakes.


An organization I'm a part of (my school's chapter of Active Minds - check them out, they're really awesome) was having a bake sale on Friday. I couldn't make it to the actual event to sell anything, but I figured I'd contribute something, even if it meant baking, frosting and delivering the cupcakes to my group's co-president at one in the morning - late-night baking's becoming a habit. With four nearly rotten bananas (it sounds so bad, but it tastes so, so good) on hand, I remembered this website and immediately knew what to do. See, I have no idea who Ming is, where he/she is from, even what gender he/she is, but Ming makes some pretty damned good cupcakes.


It wouldn't be a stretch to say that this website is what first got me into baking. I was at home last summer, unsure of what to do with the scads of free time I'd suddenly acquired that did not need to be used for doing interviews, writing essays or other freshman-year-of-college-type things. The first cupcake I made (with my dad, no less - he got pretty into our baking bonding time) was the coconut rum cupcake, Cupcake 30, and good lord was it delicious. I'd expected it to be a total failure - I tried to make red velvet cupcakes for an ex-boyfriend for Valentine's Day using this recipe once, and they were soon quarantined to the back of his family's freezer, never to be spoken of again. I won't blame Paula - it was probably my own inexperience that did me in - but this cupcake... it was the nectar of the gods.


For the bake sale, I doubled the recipe for the cupcakes but not for the frosting, since I always end up with extra anyway. Again, dorm ovens suck, and one batch of the cakes got somewhat overbaked. I didn't get to taste any the next day, as I had to relinquish the lot of them for the sale, but I heard good things from friends - one of the co-presidents had five of them by herself. The banana wasn't overpowering, but it did leave a sweet, subtle aftertaste. I added some cinnamon because that's just how I roll, but I can't say it actually came out in the final cake. Ask the co-president.


The star of the show was definitely the chocolate cream cheese frosting. The cheesiness (yes, this is the best way I can describe this) of the cream cheese offset the shockingly sweet powdered sugar, and there was just enough cocoa powder for a mild chocolate taste.


We had a cream cheese incident (again, the best way I can describe it) and lost about half an ounce of the cream cheese on the floor of the dorm kitchenette and on the side of the oven, but the other measurements stayed the same. In fact, it might behoove you to throw some cream cheese around the kitchen, since the frosting was so tasty.


Banana Cupcakes
Makes about 24 cupcakes, recipe barely adapted from Ming Makes Cupcakes, Cupcake 6

2 cups mashed bananas (note: we had 4 medium-to-large bananas)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (note: I used this trick to make myself buttermilk, since I never seem to be able to find a use for 3/4 of a carton of buttermilk later on)

1. In a small bowl, mash bananas. If you wish, combine them with 2 tsp lemon juice to prevent browning.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
3. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Beat eggs and vanilla in sugar and butter mixture.
5. Add flour and buttermilk alternately into the sugar and butter while mixing.
6. Beat bananas into the batter and mix until well blended.
7. Bake at 275 for one hour or until tooth pick comes out clean. (note: ours finished in 40-45 minutes, but go by your oven)
8. After removing from the oven, place in freezer for half an hour.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
From Ming Makes Cupcakes, Cupcake 1

4 oz cream cheese (note: again, consider the benefits of having a cream cheese accident)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tsp cocoa
A splash of milk

1. Mix cream cheese and vanilla with a hand mixer at medium speed until creamy. While beating, add powdered sugar, cocoa and the milk gradually.
2. Spread on cooled cupcakes (note: this step just seems funny to me. What else would you do with it?)

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