Can I take a minute to tell you guys how much this time of year excites me as a total sports nut? The past few days have been a blur of March Madness games from noon til midnight around here. The plan for this weekend looks to be more of the same. We're heading toward playoff time for pro hockey and basketball, and it looks like both my Bruins and Celtics will be making post-season appearances. Spring training has been in full swing for several weeks, and though I have a hard time getting amped up until the season actually starts, the Red Sox have the potential for a really exciting year. Poor Shane. Contrary to popular stereotypes, he could pretty much care less about any of these things, so he's just stuck dealing with this crazed fan. And now I've gone and bored you guys too - but hopefully these cupcakes will make up for it :)
One thing that Shane and I can both agree on though is the need for game day snacks. Sometime within the past few weeks I discovered a really great new-to-me blog, Love & Olive Oil, and bookmarked about 10 recipes within my first 15 minutes on the site. These chocolate banana cupcakes were on the top of the list and definitely game day appropriate. Though I didn't realize it until after I'd baked them, the cupcakes (not the frosting) are vegan - the first vegan cupcakes I've ever made! Coconut milk is used in the recipe, though once the cupcakes are baked you'd never guess there was coconut milk in them. There was a chocolate banana frosting recipe over on Love & Olive Oil but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go with a peanut butter buttercream instead because, I mean, chocolate, banana and peanut butter in one treat? Heavenly.
Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
adapted just slightly from Love & Olive Oil
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used lite)
1/2 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 1 banana)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed banana, coconut milk, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined. The mixture won't be completely smooth due to the banana, but whisk vigorously to get out as many of the large lumps as possible. In a second medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. ( If your cocoa is lumpy like mine you may want to sift instead of whisking - I can never get the lumps out with just a whisk.) Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and gently whisk (or fold with a rubber spatula) just until combined.
Distribute the batter evenly among the liners, filling each about 1/2 - 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffin pan to a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to the wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12 cupcakes
Peanut Butter Buttercream
from Cook's Illustrated
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
pinch table salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
In a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter and peanut butter at medium-high speed until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and salt to the bowl and beat at low speed just until the sugar is moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the mixture until fully combined. Finally, mix in the vanilla and heavy cream and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again then beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and garnish with banana slices.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough to frost 10-12 cupcakes)