I LOVE baking, and so I try to absorb each and every baking tip that I can get from top pastry chefs in the country whenever I attend cooking demonstrations, seminars and workshops or even during shoots for FLAVORS Magazine. One thing I learned from cupcake queen Chef Sonja Ocampo (of Cupcakes by Sonja fame) when I attended a Cupcake Workshop which she conducted at Enderun Colleges is never to waste bananas. When they become too ripe and the peel turns black and you want to throw them away, don’t. Pop them into the freezer. You’ll have a use for them when you decide to bake banana cake, banana bread or banana muffins. Overripe bananas make the best ingredients for such sweet concoctions because they turn out naturally sweeter and more fragrant banana cake than those that you mash fresh. So I do that.
Yesterday, when I decided I wanted to make some banana cupcakes for Valentine (although yesterday was Chinese New Year), I fished out three frozen overripe bananas from my freezer. To shorten the process, I used Banana Cake Mix because The Maya Kitchen just sent me some mixes very recently. Instead of two bananas, though, I used three bananas, and I threw in some grated carrots and pineapple tidbits to make my cupcakes even more moist and delicious.
True enough, when I took out the batch of banana cupcakes out from the oven, they smelled heavenly. While letting them cool down to room temperature, I whisked up some cream cheese frosting. I used the cream cheese frosting recipe that I learned in baking class under super talented pastry chef Junjun de Guzman at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS) and just scaled it down so I don’t end up with too much excess icing. This is one favorite frosting of mine that I use time and again because it never fails to impress.
With the cupcakes down to room temp, I poked a hole in the center (a tip I learned from donut making class under culinary icon Sylvia Reynoso Gala way back when I was just starting to learn to bake) and piped cream cheese frosting into the cupcakes and then on top.
Because it’s Valentine, I used pink cupcake liners and I topped my cupcakes with a pink marshmallow each. I had wanted to use heart-shaped candy sprinkles but, obviously, I failed to get some in time for yesterday’s baking session. I think the pink marshmallows sufficed, though, as a subtle reminder that, hey, it’s Valentine’s Day on Thursday, so you guys better come up with something sweet and romantic to surprise your wives with.
THE BANANA CUPCAKES:
1 small box Maya Banana Cake Mix
3 tbsps. cooking oil
1/4 cup water
3 pcs. frozen overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 pc. carrot, grated
2 tbsps. canned crushed pineapple, drained
1 medium-sized egg
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (or 177°C). Line a 12-hole muffin pan with fluted paper cups.
2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix just until incorporated, about 50 strokes of a wooden spoon.
3. Spoon into lined muffin cups three-fourths full.
4. Bake just until done. To check doneness, stick a cake tester or toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, it’s done.
5. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Cream mixture until smooth.
3. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
4. Scoop into an icing bag fitted with a large round tip.
5. Poke a hole in the center of the cupcakes, making sure you do not hit the bottom so the extra icing doesn’t flow out.
6. Fit icing tip of piping bag into the hold and pipe until hole is full. Then pipe icing on top. Top with a piece of marshmallow, heart-shaped gummy candy or white chocolate button, or sprinkle the whole expanse of the frosting with heart-shaped candy sprinkles.
Makes 12 cupcakes.