Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana either love it or not! One of my kids wouldn't touch this cupcake, and the other loved it. I have to admit, there was a time when I didn't really care for banana anything. Just give me a straight banana, please, with a side of peanut butter! But, alas, all things change in time and I, too, have become a banana convert.

This simple old fashioned recipe was found in one of our local Bucks County magazines recently. It was a family recipe and I was taken by how quickly and easily it went together. Basically you just throw everything into the mixing bowl  and beat it together til it's easy is that? ( Wait...I stole that line from..?!)

The original recipe was to make a two layer cake but I made a few changes.  I chose to halve the recipe and make 6 jumbo cupcakes. I can see that it would make a great cake, though. And, to the frosting I added a little cinnamon to give it a tiny boost of flavor. One last addition, which I didn't use but would next time, would be to include some nuts. I think walnuts would be a welcome addition and give it that ever lovin' crunch that I'm always craving! But that's just me. You may not love walnuts and want to leave them out. That's up to you. That's the fun part about baking. Throw in what you love...leave out what you don't!

Place the dry ingredients into your mxing bowl and add the butter, buttermilk, mashed banana and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.
Add the eggs and beat another 2 minutes, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice to be sure everything is well combined. If you're adding nuts, just stir them in now.
That's it!

Scoop the batter into cupcake liners, filling them equally.
Bake approx. 20 minutes or til tester comes out clean.

Let them cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting by just combining the ingredients in a small bowl and beating til it's all combined.

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 6 jumbo cupcakes or 12 regular size cupcakes
Note: To make this recipe for a two layer cake, double all of the ingredients below and pour the batter into 2 grease and floured 9" cake pans. Your baking times will be longer

1 1/4 cups ( 5.7 ozs.) AP flour
3/4 cups sugar
generous 1/2 tsp. baking powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ( 5 tbsp. plus 1 tsp.) softened butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup mashed bananas ( approx. 1 1/2 bananas)
1 large egg
Frosting, see below
Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350.

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl. Make sure it's all mixed thoroughly, then add the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and mashed bananas and mix on low to start out to combine, then increase speed to medium high and beat for 2 minutes.
2. Add the egg and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes.
3. Scoop the batter into your prepared muffin liners.
4. Bake for approx. 20 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness.
5. Cool a few minutes in the pan, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
4 ozs. cream cheese, room temp.
3 tbsp. softened butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
dash of cinnamon ( approx. 1/4 tsp.)
In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter til smooth. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice, then beat in the confectioners' sugar til it's a nice smooth consistency, adding more sugar if too thin. Decorate and enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dense Fudgy Brownies

In my world, there's always room for one more brownie recipe, especially a dense and fudgy one and this one is the fudgiest ever!

These are appropriately named "Luxury Brownies" and they are so luxurious, using the best dark chocolate you have, along with a good quality cocoa can you beat that? The original recipe calls for your choice of nuts, either one kind or an assortment but instead of nuts, I used  threw in a handful of Ghirarrdelli bittersweet chocolate chips, since no one in my family likes nuts in their brownies except me...and goodness knows I don't dare make them just the way I alone like them! That would be dangerous!

Just remember to cut very tiny squares for serving. They're that rich.

Luxury Brownies ( adapted from here)

7.1 oz. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temp. and whisked
8.1 ozs. dark chocolate ( good quality), chopped into very small pieces.
4.9 ozs. AP flour
Scant 1/2 cup (1.4 ozs.) cocoa powder ( good quality, like Valhrona)
Pinch salt
Approx. 7 ozs. nuts of your choice (technically this comes to roughly 2 cups, depending on which nuts you choose, but I think one cup is more than enough)
You can use a combination of pistachio, walnut, hazelnut, pecans or just one kind that you like.
Butter and line with foil, an 8" x 8" pan. Preheat oven to 350.

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter completely.
3. Add the sugar and stir til the sugar is dissolved.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the chocolate pieces and eggs together, making sure it's all well mixed.
5. Pour the piping hot butter/ sugar mixture into the chocolate/eggs mixture, mixing quickly and thoroughly. If there's still some chocolate not totally melted, just put the bowl over some gently simmering water and stir til it's all melted.
6. Scoop spoonfuls of the flour/cocoa powder into the mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula just til no traces of flour can be seen.
7. Gently stir in the nuts (leave some out to decorate the top, if you want it to look pretty!) or add the chocolate chips, if going that route.
8.Pour the batter into your prepared pan and decorated the top with your nuts, if using.
9. Bake 18 to 22 minutes.
The brownies are cooked when the edges are slightly dry, the top is shiny and has cracked. The center of the brownie should not be wobbly when shaken. Important! The toothpick method of testing does not work on this fudgy brownie!
Let the brownies cool completely before cutting...or better yet, wait til the next day to cut. These brownies get better with each passing day! Remember to cut very small squares...they're that rich. Enjoy! And please, if you make them,  let me know what you think, which nuts you prefer...or if you used my handful of chocolate chips adaptation.


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