Recently, I was told by my boyfriend that his mom’s chocolate frosting was the best chocolate frosting he’d ever tasted in his entire life, wait, no, in the world (he might have held his arms outstretched demonstrating the magnitude of this concept: the world). That was quite a bold statement. Everyone thinks their mom’s such and such recipe is the best ever. Even Supreme Court judges are biased when it comes to their mothers' cooking, I'm sure. I considered my own frosting repertoire and although I make ganache from time to time, I never really do chocolate buttercream. I guess I hadn't yet found the one. Suffice it to say, I was extremely intrigued and I’ve been a squeaky wheel about getting this recipe for a while.
I was taken aback to find out that it was an American (aka simple or confectioner’s sugar) buttercream, which I’ve been poo-pooing since I discovered meringue buttercreams. American buttercreams are usually over-the-top sweet and just one-dimensional. Alas, it seems that sometimes the most elegant solution is the simplest one. This gorgeous frosting was just right – light, not too sweet, with just the right sharpness from the chocolate. There is noticeably less butter in this recipe than other confectioner’s buttercreams making it much lighter in taste and texture. I added a touch of cornstarch so it would hold up to the summer heat a little better. I will definitely be making this again. What a find.
Chocolate and bananas are one of my favorite cake combinations. Banana cake is just simple and homey and satisfying. This Smitten Kitchen recipe was used for a monkey cake (cutest idea ever) and makes the moistest, most yummiest banana-ey cake ever (I'm allowed that - I was eighth-grade vocabulary bee champion). I cut the recipe by half, hoping to yield just a dozen cupcakes but ended up with 18. Somehow, they've almost all been eaten.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
(Yields ~18 cupcakes or one 9” round cake)
1 ¾ C cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼-½ tsp cinnamon
½ C unsalted butter, room temperature
½ C sugar
½ C packed golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cups mashed very ripe bananas (2-3)
3 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugars in large bowl. Beat in eggs one at a time, and then bananas and the remaining ingredients. Beat in dry ingredients in two additions just until combined. Divide batter into cupcake pan evenly (about 2/3 full). Bake about 22-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out mostly clean with just a few crumbs on it. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes before transferring to a rack.
Rich Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
(Yields about 2 cups for 14-18 cupcakes)
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 oz semisweet chocolate
½ C butter, softened
2 C sifted powdered sugar (I sifted this with the cocoa)
1/8 C cocoa
1/8 C milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp cornstarch (optional)
Melt chocolate on double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add chocolate and mix until combined. Mix in powdered sugar and remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy. Optional: I added some cornstarch (let's be honest, I wasn't really measuring) to get a consistency that would hold up to piping and popped the batch in the fridge for a bit before actually frosting.