Necessity is the mother of invention. Well, I think this little invention is sheer genius. My Nan and I were at our local farmgate the other day when I spotted some very ripe bananas for 99 cents a kilo. We nabbed a bunch and I wowed Nan with the news that you can freeze bananas in their skins for easy use at a later date.
There was some discussion in the house: Pop wanted banana bread, but Nan wanted banana cake. I decided to compromise and make both. I made banana bread for Pop, and banana cupcakes for Nan. We’d triple booked ourselves on the weekend, so my planned mascarpone and berry tarts were cancelled. Never mind, I had other pans for that mascarpone now! It seems Nan only keeps imitation vanilla, which I refuse to use, so the mascarpone frosting was flavoured with cinnamon, which of course works beautifully with banana anyway. Nan bought up big when she saw walnuts on sale, but hasn’t used them. I’ve been finding them al over the place. Such an overabundance inspired me! I’d finish off these cupcakes in a super fancy way: with a golden shard of salted walnut toffee. What a treat they were!
|2||free range eggs|
|1 ½||cups||icing sugar|
|1/4||teaspoon||cinnamon (plus extra for sprinkling)|
*You can substitute cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 180oC.
To make the cupcakes: cream together the butter and sugars till pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the mashed banana and milk before sifting over the flour. Mix till just combined.
Grease a cupcake tin, or pair of mini cupcake tins. Divide the batter between the cupcakes and bake till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. For mini cupcakes this will probably be about 15 minutes, for regular cupcakes this will be between 20-30 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly before removing them to a rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting: beat together the butter, icing sugar and cinnamon till light and fluffy. Gently fold through a little mascarpone, then fold through the remaining mascarpone till just combined. The mascarpone will curdle if you overwork it. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and place in the fridge until needed.
To make the toffee: line a baking sheet with foil and sprinkle with the walnuts and salt. Place two tablespoons of water into a heavy based saucepan with the sugar and mix to combine. Heat the sugar (without stirring) till it melts and turns golden. Being very careful not to burn yourself, pour the golden mixture over the walnuts on the foiled tray, spreading it as thin as you can. Leave the toffee to set and cool completely.
It’s best not to assemble these cupcakes in advance. This is because of the cheese in the frosting and the fact that any moisture will be absorbed by the toffee, making it sticky and cloudy.
To assemble the cupcakes: Beginning at the outside and moving inwards, pipe a spiral of frosting onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Break the toffee into shards and arrange one or more shards in the top of the cupcake.