vegan banana dream cupcakes

“Nothing says love like a cupcake does. If you don’t bake someone a cupcake then you don’t really care about them”. – Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I couldn’t have said it better myself. May is birthday month in these parts and I’ve been baking up a storm the past two weekends.

My bestie for life is among those born in May and I’ve spent weeks trying to decide what to bake for her birthday this year. I tried to take some mental notes while we were in New York, but my memory has been a bit of a loser since I’ve been back. Yeah, all those notes-to-self have been washed away. Woops.

So I turned to what I believe is the most reliable source for vegan sweet treats: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I’ve made the crimson velveteen cupcakes from this little cupcake bible a few times and they are fantastic. So there was no doubt in my mind that whatever I chose would be awesome. Since the birthday girl is a fan of artificial banana flavor, I thought banana cupcakes fit the bill.

Then I started thinking about bananas with peanut butter. And bananas dipped in chocolate. That’s when I decided that a peanut buttercream filling and chocolate buttercream on top would make these banana cupcakes real birthday material. And a little sprinkle of Maldon to finish it off never hurt anybody, right?

Everything about these cuppies is right. They’re moist and have serious banana flavor without tasting like banana bread. The peanut buttercream is everything you dreamed peanut butter icing would be – creamy and fluffy and peanut-buttery. I could have eaten it by the spoonful. And the rich chocolate buttercream ties it all together, providing a little depth in the midst of all the sweetness. It’s a glorious thing, this cupcake, which I think in the future will be referred to as the MurphDay cupcake, in honor of Miss May 21st.

 vegan banana dream cupcakes

adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

makes 1 dozen cupcakes

for the cupcakes:

1/2 cup very ripe banana, mashed well

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup rice milk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with liners. Set aside.

Push the mashed bananas through a sieve or blend with an immersion  or regular blender to get rid of any remaining lumps. The bananas should be smooth.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, rice milk, vanilla, almond extract, and mashed banana.

Create a well in the dry ingredients and fold in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined – do not over-mix.

Fill the liners two-thirds full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking. The cupcakes are done when a cake tester comes out clean. After 5 minutes, remove from trays and cool completely on a wire rack.

for the peanut buttercream filling:

1/4 cup margarine, softened

2 tablespoons shortening

1/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter

1 tablespoon barley malt syrup or molasses, optional

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 

1 to 2 tablespoons rice milk or soy milk

Cream together the margarine and shortening at medium speed until smooth. Add peanut butter, barley malt syrup/molasses, and vanilla, and beat until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the sugar; the mixture will be very stiff. Dribble in rice milk a little at a time, beating continuously till frosting is pale tan and very fluffy.

Adjust the thickness of the filling by adding rice milk or more confectioners’ sugar in small amounts if necessary.

for the chocolate buttercream frosting:

1/4 cup margarine, softened 

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if there are clumps

2-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted ( I thought 2 cups was perfect)

2-3 tablespoons soy milk

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Cream together the margarine and shortening until well combined. Add the cocoa powder and incorporate well. Add the confectioners’ sugar in about 1/2 cup at a time, adding a little splash of soy milk after each addition. When all the ingredients have been well incorporated, add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

to assemble:

Using a chopstick or a small knife, make a hole in the center of each cupcake about the size of your pinky finger.

Fill a pastry bag or a ziplock bag with the peanut buttercream. Place the tip of the bag in the hole in the cupcake and squeeze until the hole is filled. The cupcake should feel heavier. Repeat with the rest of the cupcakes.

Frost the tops of the cupcakes with the chocolate buttercream. Sprinkle with a little bit of flaky sea salt. Enjoy.