Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Buttercream

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And now, a haiku dedicated to my black bananas:

Unloved and hiding.
Begging for a second life,
In batter they go.

That’s my attempt at something cute at 10:30pm after a tough run, a tortilla for dinner, a headache, and a fitful night of sleep. Leave me be.

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I saw these on Tracey’s blog a while ago and I was overwhelmed by the cuteness of them and promptly remembered two black straggling bananas that needed a new home as their stay in my fridge was coming to an end. You see, they party loudly late at night and it keeps me awake. So they had to go.

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Chocolate and nanners are a great match. Nanners? I don’t think I’ll be saying that again. Next time I’ll toss in some peanut butter chips and drizzle with melty peanut butter just to mix things up. The cake portion was very soft and moist, chocolatey and banana-y, perfectly balanced. Topped off with this super easy peanut butter caramel frosting, a drizzle of chocolate or caramel (or both ;P) and you’re good to go! Add a chocolate covered espresso bean, if you’re fancy.

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Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

1/2 cup heavy cream (recipe states coconut milk but this is what I had on hand)
1/2 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 1 banana, although I used 2 bananas)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (recipe states canola oil, again use what you have)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (I subbed black cocoa for 2 TBSP of the regular cocoa)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

(A semi-helpful tip to quickly mash your bananas: break up bananas into a mixer bowl and whiz them around on med-high speed until they resemble barely chunky baby food. You can achieve this with a bowl and a hand mixer, but this creates more dishes ;P)

In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed banana, heavy cream, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined. The mixture won’t be completely smooth, but mix vigorously to get out as many of the large lumps as possible. In a second medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. (Sift your cocoa into this mixture if it appears clumpy). Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and gently whisk (or fold with a rubber spatula) until flour just disappears.

Distribute the batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 1/2 – 2/3 full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffin pan to a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to the wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

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Peanut Butter Caramel Buttercream
from Cook’s Illustrated

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
pinch table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon caramel sauce

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (I used the paddle because I’m a rebel. Or I don’t read the recipe well enough), beat butter and peanut butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about a minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt to the bowl and beat at low speed just until the sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the mixture on med-high until fully combined. You’ll notice it taking on a lighter color and a more uniform texture, this is perfect. Finally, mix in the vanilla and caramel sauce and beat on med-high to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again then beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and garnish with caramel drizzle, melted chocolate or anything your heart desires.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough to frost 10-12 cupcakes)

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6 thoughts on “Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Caramel Buttercream

  1. Shane LOVES haikus – did I ever tell you he proposed with a haiku? True story! Anyway, love your spin on these cupcakes – they sound awesome!

  2. Pingback: Chocolate cupcakes with salted peanut butter caramel frosting (you’re welcome!) « "...it pleases us"

    • Jeannie, first: thank you for the compliment on my swirls LOL. I am a newbie when it comes to decorating cupcakes so this is always nice to hear!! I might do a real quick post about what I do to achieve these super simple swirls and blog it now that I know someone out there is interested ;)

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