Thursday, January 3, 2008

Banana Split Cupcakes: or, the Art of Praxis

I have felt recently that I’m beginning to slip. I have shown unwarranted interest in the contents of a peer’s lunchbox; made one too many comments about the different varieties of sea salt after a colloquium; and hell, I even indulged in a culinary metaphor in my last term paper. I’ve raised too many eyebrows, and it is time to confess. My name is Kate, and I am a food-blog-aholic.

I feel better just saying it: I love reading food blogs. I love the stories, the information, the recipes, and most of all the sense of struggle. I cheer on one blogger as he finally perfects his pavlova, and mourn for another when her soufflé doesn’t rise. And I sometimes toy with the idea of attempting some of the more unusual or challenging recipes, perhaps even adding my own distinctive twists along the way.

But who am I kidding? I really don’t have the time. At home, my fiancé D and I mostly cook very simple recipes that we replicate time and time again. There’s something profoundly soothing about being able to switch on to culinary autopilot after a long day, not to mention the comfort of knowing in advance how dinner is going to taste.

Still, I could afford to branch out a little. To besmirch (nay, apply!) some of my theoretical knowledge about food. And it is with that small and modest promise to myself (just don’t call it a resolution, please) that I proudly join the ranks of this blog.

My first recipe is neither healthy nor lunch-friendly, but it sure is tasty. I took my future mother in law’s wonderful recipe for banana bread, and made it into cupcakes to share with her on a recent visit. She also suggested the name, since it’s a combination of bananas, chocolate, nuts and cherries. No cream, but you’ll hardly miss it. As for the frosting? Pure me.

Banana Split Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (they should be nearly black to achieve optimum flavour; I used 3)
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds removed (1 teaspoon good vanilla extract would also be fine)
2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp grated fresh nutmeg

For the frosting:
13 oz jar nutella
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

maraschino cherries, to decorate

Makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric hand mixer.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Blend in bananas and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder and nutmeg, and blend them into the banana mixture.
Fill one 12-cup muffin tin with the batter; each cup should be nearly full since the mixture doesn’t rise much.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Turn out immediately and cool on a wire rack.
For the frosting: beat ingredients together with an electric mixer, and frost each cooled cupcake generously. Top with a maraschino cherry, to create the banana split effect.

Aftermath: While I baked these cupcakes, I told D that I was planning to make them my first entry for this blog. While enthusiastic about my contribution, he also wondered if there are blogs for people who are in charge of cleaning up after the food bloggers have completed their experiments. He envisaged posts entitled ‘7 Dishwashing Detergents Reviewed!’, ‘Tips to get out baked-on stains’ and ‘How not to clean a bundt pan’. Can anyone point him in the right direction?

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