First things first! The two most vital ingredients: beer and tunes. You’re going to be here for a while, so you might as well make it a blast. I went with @unclemustache’s crisp Kölsch and True Stories by Talking Heads, but I’ll leave the details to your own discretion.
If you’re going the traditional cupcake route, go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 350°F. I usually make mini-cups because calorie-counting ingrates seem to find four tiny cupcakes more innocuous than one normal-sized one. They are wrong.
Pro Tip! If you like to bake, purchase this product! It’s only $30, it’s adorable and it makes baking a breeze. No pre-heating required and it bakes pastries in about 5 minutes. The Babycakes Maker is essentially an Easy Bake Oven for adults, minus the gross pre-mixed packages. I use it for mini-cupcakes, mini-pies, mini-quiches, mini-donuts…anything miniature and tasty. And it only bakes eight pastries at a time, which I dig because sometimes I just want a little something sweet for myself without having to bake huge serving portions. (FYI: I do not work for Babycakes. I merely have a tendency to sound like a walking commercial because I get really excited about stuff. I’m always all, “Have you used this new steam mop? It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”)
Pro Tip! Clean as you go. After you’ve slaved over a hot oven, you don’t want to be forced to clean your kitchen for an hour. I fill my sink with hot, soapy water and put dishes in there as I finish using them, so cleaning is a breeze at the end. Also, have you used this new steam mop? It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
It’s time to get started with our banana bread mix! This is the basic banana bread recipe used by lots of grandmas throughout time, including probably my own Grandma Betty. You can also make it into two regular-sized loaves or one big loaf.
Pro Tip! If, like me, you enjoy being intoxicated while baking, I recommend partaking in what I like to call the Food Network method. I set out all of my ingredients in the proper amounts in cute little bowls arranged in the order I will use them, so I don’t get confused and skip a step after dancing around my kitchen and belting out “People Like Us.”
Banana Bread Cupcake Ingredients:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour (leveled)
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 almost-too-ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Your bananas need to be a little soft and brown, like so.
Mash them up in a bowl, using a potato masher if you have it, or a big, slotted spoon if not.
Once they’re the consistency of porridge, you’re good.
Now we’re going to use something called the Muffin Method (versus the Biscuit Method, which we will address for our next installment of Badass Baker, assuming I score more than six views on this post). The Muffin Method entails mixing your dry ingredients together in one bowl, your wet ingredients together in another bowl, and then adding your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk it together lightly with a whisk or fork. In a smaller bowl, combine the butter, mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla. Push the bottom of the smaller bowl into the dry ingredients to create a well, and then pour the wet ingredients into the well, like so. (I actually forgot to mix the wet ingredients together first, so sue me.)
Do not overmix! Just use a spoon and mix together slowly until the concoction is mostly homogenized. This should only take a couple of minutes. If you overmix, the dough will be tough. So don’t do it, dude!
After it’s mixed, sprinkle in the walnuts gradually as you fold the dough over them to distribute them evenly throughout the mixture. Now your dough is ready. Super easy, right? If you’re using a standard 12-cup muffin pan in the oven, line the muffin pan with paper cups. I lined my Babycakes Maker with tiny cups. Either way, spoon the mixture into the cups to about 80% capacity. Don’t overfill or it gets messy; don’t underfill or you’ll have puny cupcakes.
Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 25-30 minutes (or 5-6 minutes in the Babycakes maker). As the cupcakes bake, you can get started on your frosting!
Peanut Butter Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
1 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy. You can use creamy if you’re a wuss.)
3-6 tbsp milk (add as needed)
2 cups confectioners’ (or powdered) sugar
This is a pretty standard frosting ratio. If you take out the peanut butter and milk and add a cup of something else, like blended strawberries, you’ll have easy strawberry frosting!
Pro Tip! If you bake, it’s worth investing in this product, called an adjustable measuring cup. It makes measuring out ingredients such as peanut butter or molasses much easier, because it pushes all of the ingredient out of the cup.
Combine your butter and peanut butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until it’s fully incorporated.
An aside: this is what my dog Zelda looks like when I make peanut butter frosting, because she knows what’s coming.
Gradually mix in the sugar, and as the frosting starts to get thick, incorporate the milk one tablespoon at a time until it’s a whipped, spreadable mixture.
When you think your cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, they’re ready. They should be a pretty, toasty golden color.
Cool your cupcakes on a cooling rack until they’re not radiating heat when you pass your hand over them.
At that point, you’re ready to frost! Oh, and if you have a dog and you don’t let her lick the peanut butter frosting from the whisk after you’re done with it, I’m calling PETA on you.
Before frosting, get a double boiler ready on the stove. If you don’t have a double boiler, just fill one larger pan with boiling water and set a smaller pan inside of it. We’re going to drizzle these beauties with Nutella! I can’t take credit for that part. Culinary visionary @themacnaughton suggested it—and you guys, I never looked back.
Nutella Drizzle Ingredients
6 tbsp Nutella
4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
(This is an estimate. You may need more depending on how heavily you drizzle. Keep your double boiler going in case you need to have more drizzle at the ready.)
Put the Nutella and whipping cream in the top of the double boiler while you frost your cupcakes.
You can pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, but because these guys have lots more decorating to go, I just use a tiny spatula to smooth the frosting on. I don’t want them to look too busy. Plus, I’m lazy.
Periodically take frosting-breaks to check on the Nutella mixture and stir it. If you don’t stir it often, the chocolate can seize (meaning it turns all gross and thick and sticky) when it comes into contact with the whipping cream. If that happens, stir like crazy and hopefully you can save it. If not, start over.
Once the Nutella is an easy liquid texture, spoon it into a squeeze bottle or a pastry bag. Drizzle it onto your cupcakes. If the Nutella mixture is still too thick to drizzle easily, place it in a bowl of warm water until it loosens up (making sure the opening is above the water level, obvs.)
Pro Tip! If you don’t have a squeeze bottle or a pastry bag, put the Nutella mixture into a plastic sandwich bag and cut a tiny tip out of the corner of the bag to use as your opening.
I made a spiral pattern because it’s easiest. If you’re brave, you can try zig-zags, crosshatching, boobs, rockets, whatever floats your boat.
We’re almost done! Sprinkle the cupcakes with a bit of sea salt. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Banana bread is usually served by itself, so adding peanut butter and nutella frosting could make it too sweet. The sea salt adds a wonderfully complex flavor that kicks these cakes up to 11.
And I like to garnish the cupcakes with banana Runts, because that’s cute. But please rush to ensure that no one actually eats the banana Runt, because they’re gross and the flavor will ruin your delicious cupcake. I know, garnishes should add to the overall taste quality of the dish or be dispensed with, but what the hell, right? I’m all about form over function.
Aaaaaand…you did it! I know this sounds like a lot of steps, but that is only because I talk too much. You can make these cupcakes in about an hour. The recipe makes 24 regular-sized cupcakes or 60 tiny cupcakes. They’re delicious, adorable, and I can personally guarantee that they will get you laid. Okay, no, I don’t guarantee that. But they WILL get you compliments, and that’s almost as cool!