Hope everyone is keeping cool. Happy 4th of July! Banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Last week was Thanksgiving which in my mind marks the end of pumpkin season and the start of peppermint season. These little cupcakes are the perfect way to kick off a month of holiday baking. They are adorable, moist, and pack a strong peppermint punch. Layering chocolate ganache on top of the frosting is a bit more work than a normal cupcake, but this step shouldn’t be skipped. The chocolate provides the perfect balance to the very sweet and minty frosting.
One of my favorite bands, The Potatomen, recently reunited to play their first show in ten years. The other band they were playing with, The Marshmallows, always bring sweet treats to their shows. I decided to make a potato dessert to celebrate the special occasion.
Although I drink coffee on a fairly regular basis, I’m not sure I would call myself a coffee-lover. I don’t need to have coffee to start my day, and when I do drink coffee the goal is to add enough half-and-half and Splenda that it has the taste of coffee ice cream. I love the coffee flavor and aroma, but can not handle the bitterness. Occasionally I’ll add espresso powder to chocolate desserts, but had never baked anything with coffee as the predominant flavor. Last week I was trying to decide what to bring one of my best friend’s going away parties. She loves lemon and I’ve made her many lemon desserts in the past, but what was on my mind was how much I’d miss seeing her around the office every morning with her Starbuck’s coffee and pastry.
I found the recipe for these adorable little cakes on the Coconut and Lime food blog. I originally noticed this particular recipe because it featured pineapple and I love pineapple, but the reason I decided to make it is because the recipe uses a whole can of pineapple.
The appeal of a recipe that uses a whole can of pineapple may not be obvious, but as a frequent baker I end up with all sorts of containers of various leftover ingredients in my fridge: egg whites, egg yolk, pineapple juice, frosting, cream cheese glaze, dough scraps, chocolate glaze etc. I put all of these things in little tupperware containers with the intention of using them somehow. In reality they sit there for weeks (sometimes months) and I give up and throw them away. The fact that this recipe utilized the whole can of pineapple really appealed to me because I wouldn’t have any leftover pineapple juice to throw away immediately (and feel guilty) or to save (and tie up one of my storage containers).
My friend Emily was having an Easter brunch this weekend. Originally I was going to make something lemon or coconut flavored because they seemed the most seasonally appropriate, but then I spotted the Maple Cake with Maple Syrup frosting recipe in the “Great American Cakes” article in this month’s issue of Bon Appétit. It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to make the Maple Walnut Cake in Sky High Triple Layer Cakes since I bought the book over a year ago. And maple is also seasonally appropriate though maybe a bit less obvious. Sap is collected from maple trees in February and March or whenever the daytime temperature gets above freezing and the nighttime temperature stays below. In northern New England and Canada smelling sap being boiled into syrup at a sugarhouse is one of the first signs that winter is transitioning into spring.
When I first saw these cupcakes on Nutmeg Nanny, I definitely had a “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. I used her post as inspiration but chose a different recipe for the cake. My friends and I had done some red velvet recipe testing last summer when I was making cupcakes for Jody’s wedding. Our favorite was the Elisa Strauss recipe that Deb from Smitten Kitchen made on her site. This recipe features more cocoa than lots of red velvet recipes which definitely dulls the color, but gives the cupcakes a really good flavor.
In Nutmeg Nanny’s post she mentioned that it takes less green food coloring than red to get a really vibrant color. This is what the batter looked like after a half bottle of green food coloring, but before I added the flour. I figured it was enough.
This is what the batter looked like after I added the flour. Pond scum anyone?
So I added the rest of the bottle and then added half of another one. I thought it looked much better and that the color would come through after baking.
I wouldn’t say the cupcakes are emerald green, but hopefully it’s clear that they are green. The color would definitely shine through more if I had used less cocoa. They taste so great that I’m willing to sacrifice a bright color for good flavor.