I had a couple bananas around that were a few days away from being fed to the trash can, so I decided to do something with them. With bananas this ripe, really the best thing to do is bake with them, so that’s what I did.
A favorite treat of mine growing up was the the frozen banana covered with chocolate and dipped in nuts. And in tribute to that I decided to make banana cupcakes topped with chocolate at nuts. I already knew these flavors would go great together, so in my mind if was just a matter of execution.
I found this recipe for the cake part of the dish on allrecipes.com. This site is really good, and has tons of recipes, many with a good number of reviews. I, like many others out there, am a little tentative about doing a recipe with few or no reviews. This one had a ton, so I went with it. For the frosting, I was in between a chocolate buttercream or a chocolate cream cheese frosting. I opted to go with the butter cream because I thought it might be a little lighter and go better with the banana. But I think either would be great.
Here’s what you will need for the banana cupcakes. Pretty much everything is a household item except for maybe the buttermilk.
And for the frosting you will need powdered sugar, shortening, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate squares and milk (i used buttermilk because I had it).
When making the cupcakes you cant just throw in the ripe bananas. You need to mash them up a good bit. I did this with a fork because I didnt want to whip out the hand mixer. Although if you use the hand mixer you will get a much more consistent puree and potentially a lighter cupcake. Either way will work, so do what’s easiest for you. After combining all the wet ingredients, then mixing in the dry ingredients it’s time to fill your cupcake tins. You should fill these to half or two thirds full. Any more than that and you will have some cup overflowage. No big deal, but its best to be as uniform as possible.
Bake the cakes for 15 to 20 minutes. I found that 17 was just right. Now if your oven in anything like mine, you wont have uniform heat from front to back. For this, I recommend rotating your cupcake tins 180 degrees halfway through the cooking process. This will ensure all of your cupcakes are cooked the same (a good idea to do).
The frosting recipe calls for either a cup of cocoa or 7 one ounce blocks of chocolate melted. I do the latter because to me it tastes so much more rich. And since I really wanted a dark chocolate flavor, the cocoa was not an option for me. While combining the shortening and butter, prepare a double boiler and gradually melt your chocolate. Remember, if you get this chocolate on your fingers, dont lick it off. It’s really bitter. But please wash it off becuase it will get EVERYWHERE!!!
Once your chocolate is melted all the way, it will be hot. No shit. So when combining it with the butter/shortening mixture be careful not to melt the butter. Incorporate the chocolate gradually. Once all of the chocolate has been mixed in, add a cups of powder sugar mixing in between each dump off. I added 4 cups, but you can add less if you like. Taste the mixture after 3 cups of sugar and then go from there. It’s your frosting, so do with it what you please. Now the frosting mixture is super clumpy so you need to add a liquid to thin and smooth it out. Add a couple tablespoons of milk, buttermilk, or heavy cream and mix to combine. You will see it gradually become what you think it should look like. Ignore the recipe where it says, 4-5 tablespoons. Put in as much or as little as you need. Just be patient. It make take 4 or 5 iterations. I think I added something like 8 tablespoons.
Time to decorate! you can do this however you want. I really don’t care. Anyway you get the frosting on the cake is cool with me. Once everything has been frosted you will want to add some chopped walnuts to provide saltiness (which provides great contrast to the super sweet frosting) and a nice crunch. The biggest mistake people make when putting nuts into their dishes is they do not toast them. The process is easy and will make a big difference. When you toast the nuts you eliminate the inherent tartness and chalkiness of the nut and give it a good crunch. To do this, put in about 1 tablespoon of butter into a frying pan over medium heat. Once melted, add about a cup or so of chopped walnuts and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix them around every minute or so for about 5 minutes. Dont cook them too long because they will end up burnt and tasting worse. Err on the side of caution for this.
Top the cupcakes with the salty toasted walnuts and boda-bing, you got yourself a badass cupcake (if cupcakes can be considered badass)!