Sunday, January 29, 2012

Have old bananas?

Make chocolate cupcakes.

I bet you thought I was going to suggest banana bread. Don’t get me wrong I love banana bread, but I’m very picky about my banana bread. I love most nuts, but not in baked goods. So banana bread with walnuts or pecans? No go. Also, a lot of versions end up as greasy banana bread gut bombs; which isn’t appealing to me at all. But, I do like chocolate. And as Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and I make these all the time, I figured that I would share my yummy chocolate/banana cupcake recipe.

I discovered the inspiration for this chocolate cupcake recipe before Charlie's 3rd birthday. She loved them and so did all the gluten eaters at her party. A chocolate cupcake recipe that calls for about three very ripe bananas and chocolate? I couldn’t resist. If I am going to have chocolate, a moist, dark chocolate cake is good, a great truffle is pretty hard to pass up and a fudge-like brownie is ideal (especially with vanilla bean ice cream). But Charlie, oh my little Charlie, she loves chocolate in any form equally. She loves, loves, loves chocolate and loves to help me bake, so this is perfect.

An added bonus about this recipe is that it isn’t bad for you. How often do you find a cake recipe that has a decent amount to fiber in it? Did I mention that they have chocolate chips in them? And because it is filled with pretty wholesome ingredients I’m ok if Charlie wants to have one day after day. It feels good to be able to say “yes” to her as often as I can. Between Celiac and her being three and a half I find myself saying “no” more than I like. When she wakes up from a nap and asks for a cupcake, “with your frosting mama,” I can say, “sure, if you help me mix the frosting,” and feel good about it.

I have made a conscious effort to find and make treats, like these cupcakes, as healthy as possible, which allows Charlie, and soon Auggie, to be able to have them more frequently. I have noticed that when I can say “yes” to her pleas for a cupcake or other “treat,” she will want it for a few days and then move on to something else. I bet that if I said “no” to her requests she would fixate on whatever it is she wants and then go overboard. It is amazing to see her have a cookie or cupcake and ¾ of the way through, stop eating it and ask me to save the rest for later—I love that. While I am not a nutritionist, I’m assuming that since most of the sweet things that she does eat do have some good-for-you elements, they don’t affect her body the same way that other overly processed sweets would. She gets super excited about them, is very appreciative, and says “thank you mama for the cupcake” over and over again while jumping and smiling. But there isn’t that crazy frenzy after she eats them, or tantrums if I say that she can’t have one. Her love of chocolate is amazing and to see her get so excited about it and these cupcakes makes me smile. They're also so, so, so easy to put together that Charlie can really help. She can’t crack an egg yet, but she is a great stirrer, and we are working on her egg cracking skills. 

There are a lot of articles encouraging everyone to eat more whole grains and to use other flours besides white all-purpose flour. I think that this recipe is a great way to experiment with different grain flours because it is easy, the flours can be bought in small bags for not a ton of money and are sold in larger mainstream grocery stores. The trick is to keep enough bananas around so that you have three that are over ripened.

I always make the full batch and freeze most of them; they freeze really well. When I pull a couple out of the freezer to eat, I don’t let them defrost on the counter. I put them in the microwave for a few seconds. As a result, the cake defrosts of course, but the chocolate chips soften up, almost becoming little pockets of molten chocolate—not a bad thing to find when you take a bite, right?

Chocolate/Banana Cupcakes

Makes about 24 standard cupcakes. Pre-heat oven to 350*

300g ripe bananas
150g cane sugar
3 eggs
80g light olive oil
4oz applesauce
2tsp vanilla

100g teff flour
25g millet flour
25g brown rice flour
50g almond meal
20g cocoa powder
1Tbsp psyllium husk powder
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp baking soda

100g chocolate chips (I have been using 50g semisweet and 50g bittersweet)

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas and set aside (I use a fork). 

In a separate bowl whisk together the teff flour, millet flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, psyllium husk powder, salt and baking salt.

Using a whisk, in a medium/large bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, olive oil, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in mashed bananas.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon into non-stick sprayed and lined cupcake pan, filling them about ¾ of the way full. Bake for about 20 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes sit in the pan for a few minutes, then have them cool on a cooling rack.
Once cool, frost with your favorite frosting, or not. These cupcakes do not require frosting to be yummy.

The batter can also be baked in loaf form and then sliced and eaten like a tea bread or pound cake. The cooking time for the loaf pan is different: bake in a greased pan for about 40 min.

Charlie’s favorite is a chocolate cream cheese frosting, which is ideal for me as I can mix a small batch of it together in a bowl with a fork in only a couple of min.

For the full batch of cupcakes:

16 ounces (2 packages) of room temp cream cheese
1 cup powdered (confectioner) sugar
3 TBSP cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer.

With a paddle attachment, mix on medium low until well combined.

Frost the cupcakes.

Omit the cocoa powder for a vanilla cream cheese frosting. 
For Valentine's Day, add a couple, or a few, drops of red food coloring to the vanilla frosting to make it pink.


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