I always loved birthdays in elementary school. There were so many special privileges. Line leader for the day. Choosing a picture book to read to the class. Wearing a birthday crown. And of course, TREATS for the class! Unfortunately, in the “real world,” people barely wait in lines let alone allow you to lead them anywhere, the only thing that gets read are the day’s headlines in the newspaper and I suppose you could wear a crown if you wanted… but even then no one would give you special treatment. However, the one thing that you can guarantee from grade school to old age is a yummy birthday treat. So for my birthday this year, I wanted it to be real good.
Today, February 21, 2008, I turn the ripe old age of 24. And for this day I resolved to bring in a “treat” to celebrate at work. I half considered making donut holes from scratch, since that resonates as a pretty popular birthday treat from years past, but I’m scared of scalding hot oil, so I nixed that idea and moved straight on to cupcakes.
After a quick flip through my limited cookbook collection and a search on some blogs, I found what I was looking for: Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chunks. I found the recipe at The Cupcakery in a tribute to Gwen Stefani, but I decided to tone down the icing – I’ve never been a big fan – and keep it simple.
And the recipe seemed simple enough, which should have been my first red flag, but if you read the phrase “roughly chopped dark chocolate” would you think of strenuous labor? Yeah, neither did I. Oops. Let me tell you, “roughly chopping” 8 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate is hard work! After starting with a block of chocolate and ending with small bits, I, a) was covered in chocolate, b) was standing on a kitchen stool hovering over my island for leverage and c) had lost feeling in my right arm. As I said, hard work!
But really, that was the toughest part. The batter couldn’t have been easier and before I knew it the muffin tin was full!
Even the ganache was so simple I thought I’d messed it up. Who knew that heavy whipping cream and chocolate chips could make something so delicious?! (Actually that does seem like a no-brainer, but it hadn’t occurred to me until now.)
I must admit this may be one of the nicest looking recipes I’ve made to date. Although I’m not sure if they qualify as “cupcakes” because they’re more bready than cakey, they sure are tasty and totally birthday-worthy.
Now maybe I’ll go put on my birthday crown for the commute home……
3 C. all-purpose flour
2 C. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 C. vegetable oil
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 C. buttermilk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 1/2 oz. good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 C.heavy cream
8 oz. good semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with baking cups or use large nut cups. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened; do not beat. Stir in the banana, buttermilk and vanilla. Fold in roughly chopped dark chocolate.
Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 17 to 23 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Allow cupcakes to cook COMPLETELY before frosting with ganache (recipe below).
To make ganache, in a double boiler over simmering water, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.