Birthday Treats!

banana cupcakes

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!

chocolate bar chocolate chunks

But really, that was the toughest part. The batter couldn’t have been easier and before I knew it the muffin tin was full!

banana cupcakes raw banana cupcakes unbaked in pan

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.)

chocolate ganache

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.

banana cupcakes

Now maybe I’ll go put on my birthday crown for the commute home……

Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chunks


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

Chocolate Ganache:
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.

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  • Hillary

    Since I was lucky enough to try one of these in person, I have to say they were FANTASTIC! Thanks for putting in all that hard work for YOUR birthday – Have a good one!

  • melissa

    oh maxine, those look awesome!!! way to go on losing feeling in your arm – you know it must be worth it after that. ;)



    I suppose you could wear a crown if you wanted… but even then no one would give you special treatment.

    at least not the kind of special treatment you’re looking for. har har.

  • JEP

    Mmm..cupcakes with those ingredients gotta be good tasting! Happy Birthday…one more year until you are enrolled in the quarter-century club–ha!

  • Cindy

    Happy Birthday!
    So nice to have these yummy cupcakes for a birthday!

  • megan

    Happy Birthday! Those sound wonderful.

  • Emiline

    These sound perfect to share with your work friends.

    That is a lot of chocolate to chop. I can’t think of any easy way to do it, though. Maybe a food processor? I’ve never tried it.

  • The Cupcakery

    Hi! I am thrilled to see you tried my recipe and enjoyed it. You had lovely results! I noticed in your picture of the chopped chocolate you really cut it very finely; I admit, it is difficult to chop, but a rough chop should give you chunks. If I could make a suggestion for the next time you try it, do not cut the pieces so finely. One hint which might make the cutting easier, break off small sections of the chocolate squares to chop at a time and use a larger, very sharp knife. You should end up with uneven chunks. Another suggestion, I saw Bakers Chocolate sells pre-packaged “chunked” chocolate. It could save your dear hands! I like your website! Thanks for giving my recipe a try. Best!

  • Cork & Feast

    Oh my, I know I shouldn’t giggle about this with all the hard work you did for your own birthday and all, but yes, I totally understand how much hard work you went through “roughly chopping” all that chocolate. Now this may sound like a dumb question to some, but couldn’t you have used a food processor to chop that chocolate? Granted, I’ve never tried chopping chocolate in a food processor before, but given the choice between making my arm numb or giving it a whirl, I think I might have tried the machine. Glad to read all turned out well in the end and you loved these cupcakes. Happy belated birthday!

  • tigerfish

    Chunks of dark chocolate. This will win me over but it’s your birthday,not mine!

    Happy belated birthday.

  • Maxine

    Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! As for the food processor suggestions, I thought of that too, but I was afraid the heat from the blade would melt the chocolate. I think The Cupcakery had the best idea with pre-chopped chocolate. :) I’ll know for next time!

  • http://Recipeforliving Teri

    I am so glad that your elementary birthdays bring back special memories and you have carried them on to your adult life. Your co-workers should be
    most delighted that you have shared your loving “kid side”, whimsically showering them with your yummy home baked treats! In my elementary teaching career of 27 years, I often empathsized with the large percentage of students who would have loved to have shared their birthday in some special fashion with the entire class but did not have the support or funds from home. For those students, I truly felt that it was my place to do something special in the classroom to make their day. (Not always knowing who would be bringing things in to share, I had to be super organized but yet spontaneous). Needless to say….. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic aren’t the only ingredients for a successful and memorable school year. TREASURE YOUR FOND MEMORIES AND CONTINUE TO SHARE THEM WITH YOUR FRIENDS, THEY ARE FORTUNATE THAT YOU HAVE SUCH A ZEST FOR LIFE!!!!!

  • abby

    these treats suck!

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