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The Batter Thickens: Peanut Butter/Banana/Chocolate Trio Cupcakes

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Peanut Butter/Banana/Chocolate Trio Cupcakes

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Sometimes I have trouble deciding what to bake next. Audrey and I call it "baking block." You want to bake...but you're just not sure what your tastebuds are craving. And if your friends are anything like mine, they are maddeningly unhelpful and just tell you to decide because they "will love anything you make!" I mean, I guess it's nice that they have such faith in my baking abilities...but it really doesn't help resolve the whole deciding-what-to-bake dilemma.

These cupcakes came to me in a flash of inspiration during class one day last week. In the morning, I was dreaming about the flavors of banana, peanut butter, and chocolate in fantasies that rapidly escalated in decadence the closer it got to lunch time and the more my tummy growled, and by that evening I was putting the finishing spoonfuls of ganache on top of freshly baked peanut butter banana cupcakes. Not a bad way to end a day, if you ask me.

I don't know about you, but in our house, banana bread always means "with chocolate chips." I can count on one hand the number of loaves we've made that haven't been studded with a generous quantity of chocolate chips, and they all had a Nutella swirl instead.

So banana & chocolate are kind of a package deal in my book. Which shouldn't surprise you. When have I ever passed up an excuse opportunity to add chocolate to something? Never, obviously. Who would? No one I have any interest in knowing, that's who.

Remember me mentioning fantasies that rapidly escalated in decadence? Well, I didn't dial them down after I had food in my belly and was no longer delirious with pre-lunch hunger pangs. It's just not my nature. The consequence? A multi-layered, jam-packed peanut butter/banana/chocolate experience.

I started with a peanut butter banana bread-turned-cupcake base, studded with chocolate and peanut butter chips (what? I found an opened bag in my pantry - it was meant to be!). I topped that with our go-to peanut butter frosting, everything you could want from a peanut butter frosting and more. And, to give chocolate the last word, I polished it off with a generous spoonful of chocolate ganache.

When I explained this cupcake concept to my friends over lunch, their only response was: "Oh my god." Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Dense, moist cake, intense banana flavor smothered in peanut butter, studded and topped with chocolate for good measure...you literally can't go wrong. Do yourself a favor and make these cupcakes part of your weekend/life/complete breakfast.

- Molly

Peanut Butter/Banana/Chocolate Trio Cupcakes
Cupcakes adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction; Frosting from The Cake Mix Doctor


3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg and sugars.

Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Batter will be very thick. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into cupcake liners.

Bake for 18-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then move cupcakes onto a cooling rack. Do not frost cupcakes until completely cool. Frost cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, then top with a spoonful of chocolate ganache.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until the sugar is well combined, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting lightens and is fluffy, 1 minute more. Blend in up to 1 tablespoon milk if the frosting seems too stiff. Don't be afraid to play with proportions. These are by no means hard and fast measurements. If you want the peanut butter flavor to be stronger...add more peanut butter. If you like sweeter or thicker frostings...add more sugar. If you like smoother, thinner frostings, add more milk. I don't believe in settling for less than perfection. So play around until you have your perfect peanut butter frosting!

Chocolate Ganache:

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1-3 tablespoons milk or cream

Microwave chocolate cups and 1 tablespoon milk or cream for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Add milk until ganache reaches desired consistency. Spoon on top of frosted cupcakes. Allow to cool and solidify completely before eating the heck out of those suckers.

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