Baker’s Delight: Banana Cupcakes

I first made this recipe a few years ago and really enjoyed it! Recently, I was asked to provide banana cupcakes for an open house and I remembered these. And so, I returned to the recipe and adapted it – these were the result. The honey cream cheese frosting is fabulous – not too sweet but oh so wonderful. These also make wonderful mini cupcakes – a batch makes 24 regular cupcakes and a lot of minis.  

BANANA CUPCAKES
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network)
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3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed

Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer cakes to a rack and cool slightly. Cool completely before frosting.

To frost the cupcakes: Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in   the honey. Spread the frosting over the muffins. Sprinkle with the walnuts if desired.

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Baker’s Delight: Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

As promised, here is the lemon cupcake recipe! We really enjoyed these. I still want to tweak the frosting a little bit but it’s really good. Don’t skip the lemon curd, it’s excellent and it will make more than you need which is a happy bonus.  You can print all of these recipes here.

LEMON CURD
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

Zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine lemon zest, sugar, butter, eggs, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan.

Cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate – place plastic wrap on surface of curd while it cools.


LEMON CUPCAKES

2 1/2 c. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
5  eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
2/3 c. buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

Into a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time until just combined. Add vanilla and lemon extract and zest. Add buttermilk and dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks before filling and frosting.


RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Using a hand-held mixer beat cream cheese and butter together until light and smooth. Add vanilla extract and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated and desired thickness is reached.


TO ASSEMBLE:
Remove a small amount of cake from the center of the cooled cupcake and spoon in the chilled lemon curd. Use a pastry bag or Ziploc bag to frost the cupcakes. Store finished cupcakes in the refrigerator.

Baker’s Delight: Vanilla Cupcakes

This week, I set out on a mission to find  a vanilla cupcake recipe for my oldest son’s birthday. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Reviews on nearly every vanilla (or white) cake recipe are mixed – some love it, some hate it, some think it’s light, some think it’s dense…you get the idea. And let’s be honest, not everyone is a competent baker, so it’s hard to know which reviews to trust!

Finally, I deicided to just jump in and try a recipe. Bobby Flay had one which I adapted to work for me. The texture was lovely and the flavor was quite good. The chocolate frosting he included was delicious as well – a frosting recipe unlike any I have ever made. These definitely got the seal of approval from my family and the birthday boy loved them! They would also make a beautiful Easter or spring dessert.

VANILLA CUPCAKES
(adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mini Vanilla Bean Cupcakes)
Print These Recipes

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1Tablespoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Creamy Chocolate Frosting, recipe follows
Sprinkles for decorating, if desired

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill muffin tins with liners .

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks in a medium bowl.

In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside. Wash the bowl and dry.

Add the flour mixture to the now-empty mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, and then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain.

Fill the cupcake molds 3/4 full and bake until just firm, about 18-22 minutes. Let cool and frost with Creamy Chocolate Frosting. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

CREAMY CHOCOLATE FROSTING
(Adapted from Bobby Flay at FoodNetwork.com – adaptations noted)

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (I used dark chocolate cocoa powder)
 Pinchof fine sea salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted this since I was making them for kids but it would have been a fantastic addition!)

In a food processor (or using a mixer), process the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then add the melted chocolate and espresso and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds.

My Kitchen View

So, we have lots of tomatoes! And I’m thinking that I simply must make a tomato pie one of these days. I’ve never made one and never eaten one but I’m pretty sure I would love it. I also must make BLTs (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato on buttered, toasted bread with real mayo) – they are a summer staple and one of my mom’s favorites! Do you have favorite tomato recipes?

Last night, we had vegetarian taco salad…so simple and filling. We really enjoy using black beans and cheese as the proteins over mixed greens with sour cream or plain yogurt, salsa, avacado, tomatoes, and tortilla chips. It was delicious and healthy. One of my personal goals lately has been to incoroporate more vegetarian meals into our diet. My family doesn’t mind eliminating meat for a few meals a week and I love the challenge of finding creative ways to enjoy meatless meals.

My latest, fun project was the cupcakes for my two-year-old son’s birthday. He chose them from a great book – Hello, Cupcake. The book has amazingly creative cupcakes that are do-able for the home baker. Last year I made circus cupcakes from the book – they were super cute but I’m happy to report that these were less time consuming and generally easier. 🙂 My little guy was thrilled with the results and I changed up the cupcakes to work with the time constraints and ingredients available. I did a cupcake display instead of 24 nearly identical cakes. I liked the result! Check out the book if you are a cupcake fan! The picture below is the main design – little fishbowls.

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY! It’s a super cool, fun, and inspiring cookbook!

Cupcakes, Coffee, and the Butcher

Yesterday my sister took me on a whirlwind tour of a few foodie places in town (Indianapolis). Our first stop will have to remain anonymous until the 6th of February, and you won’t want to miss it!

Passing Fresh Market on the way to our next destination we couldn’t resist stopping and going in for a peek. I’ve never been before. It definitely lived up to its reputation — such a lovely, pleasant supermarket experience filled with beautiful and exotic food. The fact that mangoes were on sale for 50 cents each means I actually bought something!!! 🙂

Our next stop was The Flying Cupcake at 5617 N. Illinois Street. I think I was most enamored with the adorable way the shop had been decorated — shabby chic with plenty of pink. I left the choosing to my sister and she picked a Salted Chocolate Caramel cupcake. Although seating was available, we opted to go down the street to Starbucks so we could enjoy coffee with our treat.

I think we all agreed that the cupcake was not something one eats and says “wow.” Rather, it was more like down-to-earth comfort food. We decided it was the perfect little shop to take your child or grandchild to after school, instead of a place you seek out for gourmet delicacies.

To my surprise, I discovered a butcher just down the street from the cupcake shop! Butchers are rare these days, so I had to go in and take a peak. L. E. Kincaid & Sons is located at 5605 N. Illinois Street.

Inside you will find a bright and busy shop with friendly staff who are willing to help you find just the right cut of meat for what you need. I saw signs for quail, and viewed all sorts of lamb, beef, chicken, pork, and even venison in their meat cabinets. They also had a large stock of local, free-range eggs. I felt instantly transported back to small-town Scotland.

And thus our outing came to an end and we headed back home where Black Bean Soup awaited us in the crockpot. And now I’m spending much of the day in the kitchen, cooking up some delicious dishes which shall appear here shortly!