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Sunday, July 11, 2010

~Choco-Nanner Cup... Breads~ Chocolate banana flavor for summer fair season!

So it seems like chocolate banana is the flavor combo of the season on a LOT of blogs, with all the local fairs and festivals and their chocolate dipped banana sensations.  I personally have had a long time love for that blend so I went in for making my own variation on a classic with a touch of early childhood nostalgia: Honeybutter+Peanutbutter sandwich spread goodness!

~Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Honey Peanutbutter Buttercream~

3 Mashed Old or Roasted Bananas
3 Eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 C Melted Butter
1/3 C Water
1/4 C Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 1/3 C Cake Flour + 1/3 C Non-Dutch-Processed Cocoa
1 C Bakers Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Fresh ground Cinnamon (3/4 Tsp pre-ground)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

Peanut Butter and Honey Butter Cream

                               Paper Cupcake Pan Liners 
Two-parter this time!  You can always use whatever frosting you like but this Peanut Butter and Honey Butter Cream is one of my favorites!  You can even use a banana buttercream (great stuf btw) if that sounds better.  The one problem I had was that my kitchen was a tiny bit too warm near the end of the 

Lets get started with the cakes!

Start by preheating your oven to 350f unless you are going to roast bananas ahead of time.  If you do roast them, follow roasting instructions then turn your heat down and let the oven cool while you prepare the batter.  I like to roast them especially when making a chocolate banana recipe as I think the "roastedness" complements the cocoa flavors!

FOOD SCIENCE NOTES: Tannic Acid Chain Oxidation

In a  large bowl mash Bananas then add beaten egg, water and oil as needed.  You can add less or more oil and egg yolk as you like here where more will give you a more cakey crumb and less will give you a more bready or brownie-like consistency.  Speaking of...


Guess its been a while since I talked about something new here!  Only so many different common food science issues I guess but there are always more if you look deeper!

When it comes to cakes, especially sponge cakes, we want fluffy, light, flavorful crumb.  The true trick to getting what we want is a finely played balancing act between sugars, flour, eggs, fats and liquids.
Sugar to fat ratios are important in forming air bubbles for leavening through creaming but uneven ratios can cause the butter to melt too slow or too quickly giving you too much or not enough leavening.  
Excess sugar, more importantly high sugar to egg/flour ratios, can also interfere with protein structure formation, yielding a crumb that is too tender to hold its own weight after the initial rise in the hot oven and collapses into an undercooked puck... bleh.
Fat to egg protein ratios are also integral to proper crumb.  As fat acts to tenderize, keeping the eggs (as well as flour) from forming excessively long and complex protein networks, the eggs act to keep the fat emulsified, preventing dougeyness and large air runs/pockets....


As simple as a cake may seem, there are a LOT of factors, all balancing each other and maintaining cakey-delicious equilibrium!  Like a delicious chemical equation.  Bet you'll never be able to look a cupcake the same way again...  and if so, I feel I've done my job!


Whisk to oil, eggs, banana to blend thoroughly then whisk in butter and set aside on room temp.

Twice sift flour, sugar and cocoa to be sure its all evenly distributed.  Be sure to sift thoroughly whenever using large amounts of unsalted cocoa, especially non dutch-processed as it likes to clump and there's no joy in a clump of dry/burnt/bitter cocoa in the middle of a cupcake or cookie. 

Stir together spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt then sift everything once more.  I like to blend these together then add them to the other dry ingredients to guarantee a more even distribution.  Like taking all the hearts out of a deck of cards then shuffling them back in evenly but far less illegal.

Add dry ingredients in two parts, whisking to blend completely after each addition.  Don't worry if it looks a bit lumpy from the bananas.  Any lumps will bake out as heat softens all the ingredients.  Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full for proper rising room and even heating...  Enter the most troublesome part of cupcake baking:  Filling the cups evenly and without getting batter everywhere.  My own answer to the problem is simple and I suppose apt in its scientific approach.

Whilst fiddling around aimlessly I found a type of veterinary saline syringes that really fit the bill, having graduated cylinders for even measuring and long, wide-mouth tips fit for extruding even the thickest of cake batters.  With this method, I ended up filling the cups with about 60cc (or about 1/4 C) of batter.

Bake 15-20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through, until a tooth pick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  De-pan and cool on a wire rack before frosting.

These little cakes have a versatility in what you can add to them as well as what you can put on them that comes from the original banana bread as well as the cake-like variation.  You can frost these with almost anything whether it's berry buttercream paired with the chocolate, banana cream, peanut butter cream with the banana, or even double up on the chocolate with a ganache frosting or simple glaze.  They can even be made to act like muffins, just tossed in the oven then sliced with butter or jam or even dipped in coffee for a breakfast treat!  Don't let me keep you!  Go on and try it and see for yourself!



Scott, the Inexpensive Eater said...

Holy cow! The only other thing you could add to make it more desirable is cash!

Pastry Ninja said...

Thanks :) Banana + Peanutbutter/Honey is such a nostalgic happy-place food for me. Just added some cocoa! Could even substitute the cocoa for more flour and make them just banana cupcakes.