Banana cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting/Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

 

Being a mom of twin girls at an “advanced maternal age” (lovely term, can’t tell you how many times I heard it during my pregnancy) has compromised my memory a bit. Sometimes I forget even the most basic rules of child rearing. I’d list a few other examples but I can’t remember any… In this case, I failed to remember that when my girls are presented with options, they never, ever choose the same one. So, when I asked “Should we make cupcakes or banana bread today?”, well, you know what happened. Lucky for me, I could do both with this recipe.

 
I’ve done a bit of tweaking to this recipe over the years and, I have to say, this was my best batch yet. Really moist and light in texture because I was careful not to over-mix the batter. Originally, this recipe came from my Aunt Mary, my mom’s oldest sister who celebrated her 92nd birthday this year. Mom and I made it countless times at home and it was a staple as a side bread for salads at the restaurant. 
 
This recipe can be halved if you don’t want such a big batch. I like to make enough to freeze. Also, speaking of freezing, if you have over-ripe bananas and don’t feel like baking, don’t throw them out! They freeze quite well. I just peel them and stick them in a plastic freezer bag. I thaw them out for baking and add them, frozen, to smoothies. 
 
 
 
Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting/Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread
 
1/2 cup butter (softened)
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt 
8 ripe bananas (the riper the better)
1/2 cup  buttermilk (or 1/2 cp milk w/ 2 tsp vinegar)
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I use whole nutmeg and grate it with a Microplane – not necessary but highly recommended for all your nutmeg needs)

1 – 2 cups semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate chunks (optional)

Peanut Butter Frosting (see recipe below)(optional)

 
 

Mashing bananas is a perfect job for kids. They can never really be too mashed, so it can be a time-consuming chore. Anyone who has ever had small “helpers” in the kitchen knows the importance of a time-consuming chore.

After (or while) the bananas are mashed, beat the butter and sugar together until well combined, then, add the eggs, one at a time and beat until smooth. Add Greek yogurt, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla, mixing well after each addition.

In a separate, very large bowl (if you don’t own a giant bowl, you definitely want to halve the recipe or divide it into two, reasonably large bowls) whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. It’s a terrible photo but you get the idea. Make a well in the center then….

add the banana mixture and, quickly, whisk into the dry ingredients. I use to use the electric mixer for this step but I’ve found a lighter hand makes a lighter batter so whisk only until the flour is fully incorporated then you’re done!

Fill cupcake liners @ 2/3 full and bake in 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean. Or you could just poke a cupcake with your index finger, if it springs back, it’s done. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

After making 12 cupcakes (you can call them muffins if you skip the liners and frosting) you will have plenty of batter left for two loaves of bread. Unless, of course, you’d like more cupcakes in which case you should have enough for 18 – 24 more.
Fill the loaf pans 2/3 full. As you can see, I folded (Instead of stirring, you “fold” the batter over itself with a rubber spatula until the ingredients are incorporated. It’s kinder and gentler than stirring or mixing) in one cup of dark chocolate chunks into one loaf. A very good idea should have done it in both! I used Scharffen Berger semi-sweet chunks with great success but any good dark chocolate chunks or chips would do. It’s a good idea to add a little flour to coat chocolate chips/chunks before adding to any batter to prevent them from sinking to the bottom.
Bake the loaves in 350-degree F oven @ 50 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
to make the Peanut Butter Frosting…
 
Mix  2 cups powdered sugar with 1/2 cup softened butter. Add 2 TB creamy peanut butter, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 TB milk and beat until creamy and a bit fluffy. Frost cupcakes, top with sprinkles (optional, of course, but always fun) and enjoy!
 
 
 
We lost a neighbor today. She was a lovely, vibrant woman who should have been in the middle of her life, not at the end. We didn’t know how ill she was and wish we had reached out to her and her husband sooner but sometimes it’s hard with neighbors. You may live near them for years but never really know them well, if at all. She was always very friendly, always stopping to talk in the alley, bringing a gift after the girls were born, fawning over them when they trick-or-treated at her house. Our hearts go out to her husband and family as they suffered a great loss today. 
 
I came across this quote today and remembered that my mom had books by Leo Buscaglia. I have no doubt she sent me these words today. I’m hugging my family extra tight tonight. 
 
“Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time… It tells us to tell each other right now 
 
that we love each other.” – Leo Buscaglia