Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Converted


There are dog people and cat people, beach people and mountain people, frosting people and anti-frosting people. While I remain a dog and beach person, I have recently converted from anti-frosting to frosting.

I find most frosting—commercial, homemade (except my mom’s), sent by aliens—way too sweet and plastic-tasting.  I don’t do many baked things with frosting, and when I do I work very hard to make sure the frosting is edible. Max follows me on the frosting, and he normally won’t even taste it. He only recently began eating cake-like products, and his MO is to scrape off the frosting then dig in to the cake part.

For some reason the frosting below, which I adapted from a recipe I found in the April 2010 issue of Bon Appétit, converted both Max and me so suddenly and so forcefully, we actually licked the frosting bowl clean. Even as a kid I never did that. Max and I were both so taken with this frosting, he convinced me to make a cake a few days later with the exact same frosting. Same effect. It was like crack! Or, rather, how I imagine those who are partial to crack would feel after having consumed crack.

Despite what the food pundits may postulate, the cupcake is alive and kicking. There’s no need to go to a bakery and spend $4 on a cupcake when you can make something even better in your own kitchen. And, if you’re compelled to consume just the frosting, no shande*, go right ahead.

*Shande is Yiddish for shame.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter–Chocolate Frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes
Adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2010

Use really good chocolate and a peanut butter that you love. I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao, my favorite) and Whole Foods’ 365 brand Organic Creamy Peanut Butter. Be sure not to use the all-natural peanut butter that separates and requires stirring. It doesn’t work, and if you are a sensitive baker you may end up crying.

Cupcakes
Canola oil spray (if you’re not using baking cups)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 extremely ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
⅓ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting
cups confectioners’ sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), softened
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
Chopped roasted and salted peanuts for topping (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with muffin cups or spray lightly with canola oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and sea salt. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together bananas, sugar, eggs, canola oil and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients into wet until well combined.
3. Spoon batter into muffin cups to ¾ full and bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to rack to cool completely, about an hour.
4. For the frosting: Sift sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. When cupcakes are completely cool, frost them. If you want to add chopped peanuts, now’s the time. Serve and refrigerate the leftovers for up to 3 days. Get your entire face into the frosting bowl and get rid of leftovers with gusto and absolutely no guilt. Take photos of your frosting-laden face and distribute to friends and family.

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