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Monday, September 19, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing and Pumpkin Cookies

Surprised to hear from me again, aren't you.  I know you, my enormous following (you five people are my very favorite), were wondering when you would hear from me again.  I apologize for my delay, but I have no excuse.  In order to make it up to you, I will share with you my recipe for Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing AND My Momma's Famous Pumpkin Cookies.

I would also like to butter you up with sharing one of my new favorite things.  My dear beloved younger, beautiful, brilliant, witty, gregarious and hilarious cousin who shares my passion for food (probably instilled in us by our food pushing grandmother) has started a blog of her own, called Experimenting in the Kitchen.  She's just getting started so send her your love!!!

I have been inspired by my dear cousin, a cupcake lover, and decided to create some cupcakes of my own.  I combined a few recipes to make this little gem, which has been Army Man approved by guys other than my husband (who, let's admit it, is a little bit of a pushover for my cooking).

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing
I found the cake part of this recipe from another great blog: Joy of Baking.

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) canola, corn, or vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar,flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. (The batter is quite thin.) Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about20 minutesor until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. 

Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing
Ladies and Gentlemen, buttercream icing is simple and delicious.  But in a recent internet search to find the ratio, I found recipes with questionable ingredients such as cornstarch, gelatin, shortening, and even one with salt! EEEkkkkk!!!  My Nana just rolled over in her grave!!!

Buttercream should have three, MAYBE four ingredients if you want a flavor other than vanilla.  These ingredients are butter (not shortening, though it will give a comparable consistency, you will miss the butter flavoring of the buttercream - hence the name), confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and the flavor you desire.  Bakers, start your buttercream with 1 part butter to two parts confectioners' sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add additional confectioners' sugar little by little to get to the desired consistency and flavor, tasting along the way to ensure quality and deliciousness.  Now you're free to add whatever flavoring you desire.  For these cupcakes, I used 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy).  Beat until well incorporated and smooth.  Top cupcakes and refrigerate for a harder consistency.

(Add 1/4 cup of cocoa for chocolate buttercream)

My Momma's Famous Pumpkin Cookies
My momma has always made an incredible pumpkin cookie.  These gargantuan monstrosities are a regular in the Craig home this time of year, as all Craigs (and this new Crenshaw) tend to love all things pumpkin.  Pumpkin Rolls, Pumpkin Torte, Pumpkin Spice Latte and my new addition to the pumpkin roster: Pumpkin Parmesan Ravioli (recipe to come later).  But by far, the Craig favorite is my mother's incredible Pumpkin Cookie.

Let me make something very clear.  You can buy a little sugar pumpkin and clean the flesh out for your pumpkin recipe.  But save yourself the trouble and buy Libby's.  Don't buy another brand.  My grandmother will come to your home and bitch slap you.  And let me tell you from experience, she has one mean bitch slap.  For a 74 year old, the woman packs a punch.

Momma's Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick or old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup solid packed pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine first 5 ingredients.  In a separate bowl, cream butter and gradually add sugars.  Beat till fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.  Mix well.  Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with the pumpkin, to butter mixture until fully incorporated.  Drop 1/4 cup dough onto lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake 20-25 minutes, until firm and lightly browned.  Cool on rack and top with vanilla buttercream (recipe above).

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