Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s a cupcake (and cookie!!!!) kind of month.

Not only are we focusing on decorating cupcakes with beautiful sunflowers, we also have banana cupcakes on the to-bake list. And I have one more new cupcake recipe coming later this month, too! Not only this, I’m posting a new baking basics post all about cupcakes soon. Stay tuned for that!

All cupcakes, all month.

Hi again Lil’ Luna friends! Alicia here today. I’m excited to share another great recipe with you! I’ve been baking a lot lately (even more than normal!) and I think it’s because it’s such a nice way to cozy up the cold winter days. I’ve been having my two little girls help me bake and I love all the fun family memories we’ve been making together. Cupcakes are always a favorite at our house, and these banana cupcakes are both unique, delicious and simply the BEST I’ve ever tried.

I got this recipe from one of my good friends (and my favorite source for delicious cupcake recipes), Emma. I always know that if I’m getting a recipe from her it’s going to be a great one. These cupcakes are so light and airy! They have a great banana flavor without being dense like banana bread. And the cinnamon cream cheese frosting is rich and velvety smooth. It goes perfectly with the cupcakes and the flavors complement each other well.

Banana– both the flavor and the fruit– is on both ends of the spectrum. You either love love love banana or loathe loathe loathe banana. My sisters are anti-banana, while my parents and I can’t get enough. Banana bread? The more bananas packed inside, the better. Banana cake? Pass me another slice. If you’re on the love side, sit back and stay awhile. If you’d rather pass, may I interest you in some equally as festive APPLE spice cupcakes instead?!

Judging by the response to my favorite banana cake, I’m thinking most of you are bananas for… bananas. (Couldn’t resist. I’m a dork.) I shared a layered version of the cake recently and topped it with brown butter cream cheese frosting. HOLY HECK that frosting is outrageous. All this banana razzmatazz put me in the mood to test out more frostings. Turns out, quite a lot can pair with banana! And rather than post 7534583 banana cakes, I decided cupcakes are the best option.

Today’s banana cupcake recipe is a mix of these banana cupcakes and my favorite banana cake. All of the recipes are very similar. We have that super-moist texture, plenty of cinnamon spice flavor, dense crumb (but still on the softer side too!), mega banana flavor, brown sugar, and lots of buttery goodness. Today’s cupcake recipe is basically 2/3 of the banana cake recipe, only with the same amount of banana. I wanted to pack AS MUCH banana into the cupcake as I could and we can totally get away with 3 bananas here. I also took a look at my original banana cupcake recipe, dropped out 1 egg and replaced with sour cream. I found the crumb in today’s version to be a little tighter– and they’re even moister.

This is your dream banana cupcake.

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE BANANA CUPCAKES:

  •  1 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (7 1/2oz/ 212g) all purpose flour
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  •  1/2 cup (4oz/ 114g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  •  1 1/4 cup (8 3/4oz/ 248g) granulated sugar
  •  2 large eggs, at room temperature
  •  1/2 cup (4oz/ 113.4g) sour cream, at room temperature
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  3 very ripe large bananas, about 300g peeled (1 1/4 cups pureed)

FOR THE FROSTING: *(SEE NOTE BELOW)

  •  1 cup (8oz/ 227g) unsalted butter
  •  3 1/2 cups (14oz/ 397g) confectioners sugar
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  2 cups (1 lb/ 454g) cream cheese, cold straight from the fridge
  •  1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, more or less to taste

TO GARNISH:

  •  Toffee bits or crushed nuts of your choice (optional)
  •  Dulce de leche or caramel sauce (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Line 2 standard muffin pans with 18 to 20 cupcake liners. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon (if using) to combine. Set aside.
  4. Peel the bananas and puree them in a food processor until smooth, or mash with a fork if you don’t mind a few bits of bananas in the final cupcake.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl and a handheld mixer), beat the the butter until smooth and creamy; about 1 minutes.
  6. Add in the sugar and beat on medium speed until lightened up in both color and texture; 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping thoroughly between each addition.
  8. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  9. Set the mixer to lowest speed, then add in the flour mixture in two batches, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat slowly until just blended; do not overmix.
  10. Add the banana puree and beat until just combined; do not overmix. (Tip: Overmixing can result in rubbery, dense cupcakes, so avoid it all costs)
  11. Preferably using an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners until 3/4 full.
  12. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they spring back to the touch and and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs attached. Do not overbake.
  13. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  14. Frost with the cinnamon browned butter cream cheese frosting (recipe below) in your preferred method and amount. To frost as shown in the pictures, use a small offset spatula, to cover the entire surface of the cupcake with a smooth layer of frosting. Make the frosting fuller around the edges and flat on top. Roll the sides of the cupcake in a plate full of toffee bits or crushed nuts, pressing lightly to adhere. Fit a piping bag with a closed star tip (I used Wilton 1M), then fill it with the remaining frosting. Pipe the frosting directly on top of the bare flat top. Start by applying pressure in the center, then moving twice in a circular motion and finishing off in the center. Using a squeeze bottle or piping or zipper lock bag filled with dulce de leche or caramel sauce, pipe a small dollop in the center of the frosting.
  15. Store in an airtight container until serving time. Store leftovers in airtight container in the fridge, allowing them to come back to room temperature before serving.

TO MAKE THE FROSTING: (CLICK HERE FOR A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL)

  1. Place the butter in a light colored skillet or saucepan over medium heat until melted.
  2. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly and stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the butter is dark golden brown a has a mezmerising nutty aroma.
  3. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes or until its solidifies but is still soft and pliable. If it get too solid and cold, give it a quick zap it the microwave to loosen and bring it back to room temperature. Just make sure its not warm one bit.
  4. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or handheld mixer.
  5. Beat the butter for about 1 minute until creamy.
  6. Add the confectioners sugar, salt and vanilla and beat for about 5 minutes until lightened in both color and texture.
  7. Add one piece of cream cheese at a time, one after the other, mixing well after each addition so there are no lumps.
  8. Continue adding the cream cheese until its fully incorporated.
  9. Beat for about 2 minutes to lightened it up being careful not to overbeat or you might risk getting the frosting too soft from the heat of the beaters. The frosting is now ready to use.

RECIPE NOTES

  • Banana cake in general, taste best when it has had time to rest and develop its flavor. For best results, bake the cupcakes one day in advance and let them rest in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container. Bring back to room temperature before serving.
  • This recipe will make an amazing three 6-inch round cakes. Double the recipe to make three 9-inch round cakes.
  • The frosting recipe will make 4 cups of frosting, which will generosity top the cupcakes with enough frosting to dramatically pile it high as shown in the pictures. It will yield a 1:1 frosting to cupcake ratio. For a more moderate amount of frosting enough to yield a 1:2 frosting to cupcake ratio, make 3/4 of the recipe. If you like a little swirl of frosting on top of your cupcake, then make only half the recipe.

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