The brown frozen banana

For years I would throw out over ripe bananas that I didn’t have time to use for baking.  Somewhere along the way,  I learned that you can actually freeze your over ripe bananas to use later on.  What a great piece of info, I loved it!  Ever since, I’ve been freezing my brown bananas for rainy days when I have the time to bake with them.

There is one thing I learned (the hard way) about freezing bananas. Thaw them completely before using them with any solid shortening.    

When I was making these banana cupcakes  my bananas were still slightly frozen (more than I realized) when I mashed and mixed them in with the softened butter the recipe called for.  Suddenly, my soft butter re-hardened  into bite sized chunks in the mixing bowl and wouldn’t mix completely into the batter.   When I poured the batter into the cupcake tins it was obvious this was going to create a problem during baking.  As soon as the cupcakes finished baking I removed them from their tins.  In the bottom, was the excess butter that hadn’t mixed into the batter. 

Fortunately, in this particular case the loss of excess butter didn’t dry the cupcakes out like I expected it to.  It may even have  done me a favor by reducing the fat content a little, but I will definitely pay closer attention when thawing bananas to use for baking from now on.

Here is the recipe (altered slightly) from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

1 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 stick of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 c. sugar

2 medium bananas, broken into 1″ pieces ( I mashed)

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 c. buttermilk ( I used sour milk)

1 cup butterscotch chips (Eliminated)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 regular size muffin tin cups with liners. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl and set aside.  In large bowl, using mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until blended and creamy (about 2 minutes).  Add bananas.  Add eggs one at a time, and then vanilla.  Beat for 1 minute.  On low speed, add half the flour mixture, mix to incorporate and then add milk.  Mix in remaining flour and mix until batter is smooth.  Stir in butterscotch chips. 

Fill paper liner leaving 1/4 inch space at the top of each.  Bake until top feels firm and toothpick comes out clean.  Approx 25 minutes for regular size cupcakes (I never have to bake my cupcakes for that long so set your timer at 12 minutes and check them from there to be safe).   Cool for 10 minutes in pan on wire rack before removing ( unless you do what I did. In that case, remove immediately)

I didn’t frost these cupcakes because they were sweet enough for me.  Actually, without the frosting they tasted  very similar to banana bread.  So, good….

Cookbook and Cupcake Crazy

A few weeks ago I bought another, yes, another cookbook.  I can’t help myself.  I’m not a big spender (believe me).  Actually, I might have heard some of my family refer to me as, I hate to use this word… cheap.  I wouldn’t say I’m cheap.  Just cautious.  Do you know how easy it is to accumulate (stuff) you don’t really need? 

I do however, have a slight weakness when it comes to certain things.  Cookbooks happen to be one of those things.  I’m much happier if I can pick one up at a tag sale for a buck.  But in this case I had to pay $4.99.  I know you’re thinking that must be a winner of  a cookbook.  

The cookbook is a gem.  Cupcakes!, written by Elinor Klivans, and photographs by France Ruffenach  is a book dedicated to another favorite obsession of mine. Scrumptious looking recipes, and beautiful pictures all kinds of cupcakes fill the pages.    Cupcakes  is a cookbook I know I will use time, after time.

Alright, enough about my cookbook craze,  and onto the important stuff, my cupcake craze.  For those of you that follow my blog on a regular basis you already know I tend to (tweak) recipes.  I don’t do this necessarily to be creative, but more or less, because I don’t always have the exact ingredients on hand.   I prefer to refer to it as tweaking because  the word alter is a harsh word. 

The first recipe I decided to try out of Elinor’s book, White Christmas Cupcakes.   No, I don’t miss the snow.  And, no I’m not prepared for the holidays.  I simply wanted a white cupcake.  This recipe looked like it fit the bill.  And, I have to say – it sure did.

The recipe is as follows: 

1 1/4 c. cake flour sifted.  (I used all-purpose flour -sifted)

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

3/4 c. whole milk (I used skim milk)

1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used pure vanilla extract)

1/4 tsp. almond extract (I used more vanilla)

6 tbls. (3/4 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temp. 

1 c. sugar

3 large egg whites, at room temp

This recipe was a bit more time-consuming that most cupcake recipes I’ve made, but it was well worth the few extra steps, and minutes.

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium size bowl.  In separate medium size bowl, add milk and extracts.  In large bowl add butter and sugar.  Mix  butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes. (Until texture gets sugary and forms clumps on the sides of the bowl).  Settle mixture into the center of the bowl.  Now add your flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts.  Set this aside and beat your egg whites with clean beaters until they look foamy and stick to the beaters – about 30 seconds.  Stir the whites into your batter and blend well. 

The recipe’s suggested baking time is 20 minutes.  I set my timer for 15 minutes and checked on them.  At  15 minutes in my oven they were baked to perfection.  My oven tends to run hot though.  Oh, here is a little trick too.  If you don’t have a toothpick on hand to check the centers to see if they are done, use a piece of uncooked spaghetti.  Works like a charm.

The frosting recipe also came from Cupcakes!  I tweaked that a bit too.

The recipe is as follows:

3 ounces of white chocolate chopped ( I used 1/4 cup of chocolate chips)

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp

4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temp (I used 2 ounces of  light, cream cheese)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

(I also added about 1 tbls. of milk)

To start, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract.  Then add the powdered sugar, and a tiny bit of milk to help the frosting beat easier.  I wanted both chocolate and white frosting so once I made the vanilla frosting I divided the frosting in half.  I added the chocolate chips (which I had melted) into one bowl  and mixed thoroughly.  This gave me two different flavors of frosting to work with.

These cupcakes are delicious.  When I handed my husband his, he asked me why it weighed 5 pounds.  I told him that’s because I put 5 pound of frosting on them…   I decided not to weight myself this morning!