I tried to resist these chocolate banana temptations, really I did. But after snapping a few photos, I grabbed a glass of milk and gingerly opened a cupcake. Still warm, it literally melted in my mouth. I was in heaven. I could have eaten another, and maybe several more. Enough said.
They began as an adventure to use up bananas and ended up as a marvelous treat. We had too many bananas sitting on the counter and I’d already made banana bread, so I was on the hunt for a new way to use the extras. I wasn’t in the mood for a banana smoothie and I am partial to the combination of bananas and chocolate. Cupcakes seemed like the right path and I began searching for recipes for a basic batter that could incorporate both bananas and dark chocolate.
As a general rule, any cake recipe will work for cupcakes, if you modify the baking time. I created this recipe (rather than adapting it from a cake recipe), but if you do a lot of cake baking, you’ll recognize the technique – creaming room temperature butter, slowly adding sugar and then beating in eggs before adding other ingredients. It yields a light and tender base perfect for cupcakes.
- The butter and sour cream must be at room temperature in order to blend properly in this recipe. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Do not try to use the microwave to hasten the softening process as it is difficult to control and melted butter or hot sour cream won’t work. Patience is the name of the game. You will be rewarded – I promise.
- This recipe works best with a stand mixer because it takes a while to combine the butter and sugars, although a hand held will work too. If you don’t’ have either and have a strong arm, use a whisk (or even a fork.) In that case, the bad news is that you’ll need a lot of stamina but the good news is that won’t need to go to the gym for an abs work-out.
These cupcakes are chocolately, with a definite but subtle banana taste. They are best on the day they are made, but will keep for a day or more, covered. They are great plain and I am not fan of super-sweet, gooey cupcake frosting. If you feel the need to top them off, I would use one that isn’t too sweet, perhaps a thin icing with a confectioner’s sugar and cream cheese base.
Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
Servings – 12 cupcakes Cost – $6 per batch
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup white (granulated) sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
- ½ cup sour cream at room temperature
- 1 ½ – 2 overripe bananas, mashed (about ⅔ cup)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ baking soda
- 2 ounces of dark (bittersweet or darker) chocolate, coarsely chopped – or chips
- Mixer or whisk with large bowl
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups for solids
- Cutting board
- Knife or cleaver for cutting chocolate
- 3 small bowls
- Large Spoon
- Sifter or wire mesh strainer
- Muffin tin
- Cupcake liners
- 2 tablespoons
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Except for the white and brown sugars, sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder) together into a small bowl and set aside.
- Mash the banana in a small bowl. I like to keep my bananas lumpy so that you occasionally come upon bits as you munch; how finely you mash it, like mashed potatoes, is purely a matter of personal taste. Add the sour cream and vanilla and set aside.
- Chop the dark chocolate and set it aside too. No need to obsess over the size of the chunks. Like the banana, I like rough chunks, some bigger than a chip and some smaller.
- Beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl or ramekin, just until combined, and set them aside.
- Cream the room temperature (!) butter in the mixer on medium speed until it lightens in color. Then add the sugars slowly, starting with the white sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light-colored and textured. This may take 5 minutes or longer. Scrape the bowl occasionally, so that the ingredients are well mixed.
- Add the beaten eggs slowly, a tablespoon or so at a time (no need to measure exactly), on low speed and continue beating at medium speed until the dough is lighter in color and almost elastic looking. If the mixture seems curdled, raise the speed to high for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then lower back to medium and the mixture should get smoother.
- On low speed add the flour-based dry ingredients and the sour cream/banana mixture alternately in about 3 batches each, beginning with the dry ingredients. Mix each batch, for just a few seconds until mostly incorporated. The dry ingredients may not completely incorporate until the next round of the wet mixture. Scrape occasionally. At the end, use the spatula to make sure the ingredients are fully mixed and add the chocolate chunks.
- Put the liners in the tins and fill each one about ⅔ full. I use 2 tablespoons for this process, using one to measure batter and the other to scrape it off the first spoon. It may take 2 passes, but it’s better to do it slowly because it’s difficult to lift out batter if you put too much into a liner.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the top comes out clean. Let them cool in the muffin tin before serving or storing.