Monday, June 15, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Glaze

I bought a few cake baking books a few weeks ago. Like every recipe book I ever get, I thumbed through each page slowly, admiring the photos, reading the tips, and ingredients. I feel like I picked the cream of the crop with these books. They are so helpful and they cover so many of my questions. Did I mention that I love these books? I was excited to try them all! Yep. All! The problem was, where do I start? I needed a sign. Something to let me know that it is the right recipe to begin my adventures with these books with.
Then, I hear a voice yelling from downstairs saying, "Is anyone going to eat these bananas? I'm going to throw them out! Why doesn't anyone eat fruit? I buy them for you to eat, not to look at!" I rush down the stairs and take a look at these bananas. To my delight, they were completely black. Now, I cannot let these perfectly black, sweet, and oh so ripe bananas go to waste, now could I? I had to use them in some kind of cake recipe. I was able to quickly recall a recipe for cupcakes that required bananas and chocolate chips, which of course the combination of these two cannot go wrong. I reserve the bananas for the next day and make sure I have all the ingredients I need.
They turned out delicious. The banana flavor was not overpowering and there was just the right amount of chocolate chips. For the topping, I figured something with peanut butter would accommodate the banana and chocolate flavor very well. I looked at what I had in the refrigerator and came up with the glaze below. For the garnish, I picked up a bag of dried bananas, which I think adorned the little creations very nicely.
Banana - Chocolate Chip Cake adapted from Sky High

To make this into a cake, please take note of the italicized text below.

Note: If you cannot find Chinese five-spice, simply increase the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp.

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick (4 ounces) plus 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
2 ripe but firm bananas, thinly sliced (for cakes)
3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (omit for cupcakes)
Caramel drizzle (see below; omit for cupcakes)
Dried banana chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with liners, butter and flour the tins, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. For cakes, butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans or coat with vegetable cooking spray. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Place the flour, 1 1/3 cups sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, five-spice powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on low, blend well, about 1 minute. Add the butter and mashed bananas and beat until well blended. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Combine the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping the bowl well and beating just until blended after each addition. Finally, fold in half of the chocolate chips by hand. Fill each cup 2/3 full. For cakes, divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top.

4. Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For cakes, bake the cake layers for 25-28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes, then invert to unmold onto wire racks. For cakes, carefully peel off the paper liners and let cool completely before filling and frosting.

Glaze for cupcakes:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tblsp. smooth, unsalted peanut butter
2 tblsp. unsalted butter

Microwave in 10 second increments until melted and smooth, stirring after 30 seconds.

Caramel drizzle for cake

1 cup prepared thick caramel squce
3 tbsp. dark rum

Put the caramel sauce in a small heavy saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring, just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rum. Let cool to room temperature before using.

Filling for cake

In a large chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream with the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until stiff.


For cake: To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the caramel drizzle and spread it thinly but evenly over the whole layer. Arrange about half the banana slices on top in a single layer. Cover the bananas with 1 cup of the whipped cream, spreading it evenly over the layer. Repeat with the second layer, adding more caramel, bananas, and cream. Place the final cake layer on top and coat it with 2 to 3 tablespoons of caramel; reserve the remaining caramel to serve with the cake slices. Top with the remaining whipped cream and spread it evenly over the entire layer. Decorate the top with chocolate chips and a few more banana slices.

For cupcakes, make the glaze in a wide mouth, slightly deep bowl. Dip the cupcakes into the glaze, taking care to cover as much area as desired. Quickly garnish with dried banana chips before glaze hardens.

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