There’s nothing quite so comforting as the taste of these flavors… Peanut butter, honey, and bananas. When nothing else sounds good, when I’m sick, when there’s nothing else edible in our kitchen, I wrap these flavors up between two pieces of bread and enjoy tasty contentment. It’s been breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, afternoon snack, midnight snack, stress food, comfort food, “healthy” food. And now it’s a cupcake.
It’s an odd cupcake mixture, that’s for sure. I was more than a little wary when first contemplating the idea… a banana cupcake? That can’t work, right? Bananas should only be in quick bread, served at breakfast – they can’t be a part of a sinful dessert, surely.
Don’t call me Shirley.
But now they are. I wanted to create a sweet treat that captured the flavors of my go-to sandwich in a cakey concoction, and cupcakes seemed like a winner.
The cake recipe is adapted just slightly with a healthy hit of honey from a basic banana cake over at food.com. I wondered how it would turn out… maybe like a quick bread? Or a weird fruity cake? But no, it was a perfect mixture of what you’d expect from a classic vanilla cake, but with a hint of natural banana flavor and aroma. Even the texture was wonderfully cakey – no weird and off-putting clumps of banana that you might find in other banana baked goods.
But the frosting deserves more words and accolade. Everyone should experience the joy of beating fragrant, creamy peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with high-quality butter, watching it turn into a pale, fluffy foundation of the most addictive frosting you could fathom. When I added two heaping tablespoons of honey and let the flavors waft up to my nostrils, my heart skipped a beat. Either from pure joy or fear of saturated fats – but it was worth it nonetheless.
After frosting each little cake, I topped it with a freshly sliced banana, drizzled in fresh honey. These steps are optional for a few reasons. A freshly sliced banana looks beautiful atop its little namesake cupcake, but it will ripen extraordinarily fast and not look pretty within a few hours. So only add them if they are going to be enjoyed within a short window. And the honey drizzle is just that – a drizzle of honey. I loved the hit of strong honey as a final topping, but it is a sticky cleanup. I say do it, but if you’re going to serve these to little ones or in the company of strangers whom you don’t want to witness you licking honey off of your fingers, forego it.
So there you have it. The happiest flavors in a happy cake form. Because, honestly, we all need one more way to use up our ripened bananas.
- For the Cake:
- 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (1½ sticks)
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon high-quality honey
- 1½ cup buttermilk.
- For the Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3½ cups powdered sugar
- To make the cake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix together the bananas and lemon juice (try to mix out as many large clumps of banana as possible). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, waiting for each to incorporate before adding the other. Add the honey and mix until incorporated.
- In another separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low, add the flower and buttermilk in increments, beginning and ending with the flour. Finally, add the banana mixture and mix until just combined.
- Line regular-sized cupcake tins with liners. Fill each about ¾ full with batter. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- For the frosting, beat the butter and peanut butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Scrape down the sides once to fully combine. With the mixer running, add the honey.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, letting it incorporate before adding more. You may decide to add more or less dependent on the consistency you prefer.
- To assemble the cupcakes, fill an icing bag with a large round tip with the frosting (if you don't have an icing bag, you could fill a large plastic zip bag and snip a corner, or simply use a spatula for a flat finish). Evenly pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. Optionally, you can add fresh slices of banana and a drizzle of honey on top.