Banana Cupcakes (nut-free) with Whipped White Chocolate Sesame Frosting

My kids and husband eat a lot of bananas.  I’m quite in the habit of picking up a bunch or two of bananas every time I’m anywhere that sells them.  In my home, it’s fairly unusual to end up with a surplus of ripe bananas.  However, while traveling in Canada the last few weeks, it did happen at my mom’s house.  Bananas seemed to ripen more rapidly in my mom’s house than mine and all of a sudden, there was a pile of overripe bananas that no one wanted to eat.  Because we were on our way to my mother-in-laws house at the time, I decided to use those bananas for a nut-free muffin recipe.  So, I grabbed what ingredients I could find in my mother’s pantry and went to work.  The end result was delicious, but it was hard to call them muffins.  I found them to be so sweet and spongy  that I felt they were destined to be cupcakes instead.

Being in my mom’s kitchen and using her ingredients, I realized just how different one brand of coconut flour can be from another.  I typically use Tropical Traditions but sometimes I use Let’s Do Organic or Bob’s Redmill brands.  I find all of them are milled finely and behave similarly in my baking.  My mom had a brand I’d never heard of before (sorry I don’t remember what it was called) and it was not as finely ground (more similar to when I make homemade coconut flour from the pulp leftover from making coconut milk).  I seemed to need more than I expected because of that.  So, when I got home, I decided I had better optimize the recipe for the coconut flour I’m used to using since these are common brands (at least in the USA).  All this to say that if a coconut flour recipe isn’t working for you, it might be that you need to increase the coconut flour a bit to compensate for a coarser ground flour than the recipe developer was using.  I also always measure coconut flour after sifting.

As an aside, I often get asked why a recipe that uses coconut can be labelled as nut-free.  While the FDA classifies coconut as a tree-nut, it’s actually not from a tree at all (palm trees are not actually trees and are botanically more closely related to grass plus coconuts are actually drupes, meaning they are the seeds of a type of fruit).  What this means is that the proteins in coconut are quite different from those in tree nuts so cross reaction is unlikely (while cross reaction between tree nuts is highly likely).  Most allergists will tell someone with a tree nut allergy that there is no reason to avoid coconut or seeds (unless they have overtly tested positive).

So, back to the story behind these cupcakes. The last piece to the puzzle, if I was going to call these cupcakes and not muffins, was frosting.  Fortunately, it was my husband’s birthday yesterday, so I had a great excuse!  I was inspired to do something with sesame after indulging in some halva while home.  I always make my own white chocolate for recipes because my youngest is so super sensitive to dairy.  If you wanted, you could substitute 4oz white chocolate for the cocoa butter, evaporated cane juice, and arrowroot powder.  When my husband took a bite after supper last night, his exact words were “Wow, you got this one just right!”.

These would be very pretty topped with banana chips (crumbled or whole) and/or black sesame seeds and/or shaved dark chocolate.  You could also add dark or white chocolate chips to the cupcake batter if you wanted to boost the chocolate flavor.

You could also always skip the frosting and make these as muffins (go ahead and omit the honey since they’re pretty sweet, at least to my palate).  I think they’d be really good with some chopped pecans or walnuts (if you aren’t sensitive to nuts).

Yield: 10-12 cupcakes

Ingredients (frosting):

  1. Blend evaporated cane juice in a blender or mini food processor until it’s a fine powder (this makes it dissolve more easily in the cocoa butter).
  2. Melt cocoa butter (you can do this in a double boiler or in the microwave).  Add evaporated cane juice to melted cocoa butter and whisk until cane juice has dissolved.
  3. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla seeds with a sharp knife (save the pod for making vanilla ice cream or some other dish where you simmer the vanilla pod in coconut milk).  Add to cocoa butter.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together until fully combined.
  5. Allow to cool to room temperature (because of the high melting point of cocoa butter, this takes a long longtime–if you want to speed it up, put it in the fridge and whisk aggressively every 5 minutes while it cools).  Whisk every so often (maybe every half hour) just to make sure it doesn’t separate or clump up.
  6. Whip aggressively by hand (or you could use a hand mixer or blender) and generously frost your cupcakes!

Ingredients (cupcakes):

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease a muffin pan with palm shorteningbutter or lard or line with silicone or paper liners.  I actually use a silicone muffin pan just because it’s so easy and ends up saving me tons of time!
  3. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor (yes, it really is that easy).  Blend or process about 1-2 minutes until you have a thick and smooth batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan.  You can make your cupcakes a bit bigger by dividing into 10 muffin cups or a bit smaller by dividing into 12 muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes (45 if you only make 10).  Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.  Enjoy!


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