Monthly Archives: October 2014

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

By mid-morning I am wilting under the influence of a heat wave in Brisbane with temperatures reaching 31°C. My coffee habit is entrenched but instead of hot coffee I make myself a Frappé Coffee using chilled brewed espresso, a small amount of low-fat milk and ice blocks. It is delicious but I still feel the need for something sweet to nibble on. There is no ice-cream in the freezer and no sweet biscuits.

I am not the only thing in my kitchen looking the worse for the heat. A solitary home-grown lady finger banana lies in the basket looking particularly unappetising with its blackened skin. The heat has probably caused it to over-ripen which is why both Andy and I have avoided eating it for breakfast. I don’t like waste and I need a chocolate fix so the only thing to do is make some chocolate and banana cupcakes. Within 30 minutes I am sitting under the fan on my deck, newspaper in one hand, Frappé Coffee on the table and I am taste testing my fresh batch of  delicious cupcakes.

I decided to make this recipe as it uses canola or light olive oil rather than butter and my husband can then justify eating them without worrying about his cholesterol levels. It is also easy because it doesn’t need a mixing machine.

fresh from the oven - chocolate and banana cupcakes

fresh from the oven – chocolate and banana cupcakes

Chocolate and Banana Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place small muffin paper cases into muffin tins or lightly butter the muffin trays.

1 cup castor sugar;  1cup plain cake flour;  ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder;  1 teaspoon baking powder;  pinch of salt;

1 large egg, (free range if you can get it);  ⅓ cup of banana, smashed. My small lady-finger was perfect and wasn’t too soft. You could use up to ½ cup if you prefer a stronger flavour;  ¾ cup low-fat milk (or a mixture of milk and water);  ¼ cup of canola or light olive oil; ½ – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, blend the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.

In another large mixing bowl, blend the egg, the smashed banana, the milk, oil and vanilla. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients and blend well. Pour the batter into the muffin cups ¾ full or to the top depending on how rounded you want the rise to be. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. If using large muffin pans you might need to cook them for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

chocolate and banana cupcakes

chocolate and banana cupcakes

These cakes were so nice they didn’t need to be iced. The mixture makes quite a lot of little cakes, about 20. By the time I sent some over to my grandson for pre-school, given my parents some for their morning tea, Andy and I had just enough left for a couple of days. I think the oil keeps them lovely and moist, and they keep in the fridge for a few days.

Madeleines keep memories fresh

These petite cakes are a delightful way of recalling a french holiday.

These petite cakes are a delightful way of recalling a french holiday.

I needed a reminder of my time in France and decided that Madeleines with all their associated history would be just the treat to bring memories back. I also wanted to use the silicone miniature Madeleine molds I bought in Paris. The very sound of the word Madeleine brings memories of holidays in France where my husband and I would sit in a café, sipping a coffee and indulge in one of these light irresistible cakes and watch the world pass by. These buttery little cakes are so delicious and are terribly easy to make (a type of génoise gateau). Perfect for busy cooks. This mixture does not contain any rising agent. It is the shock of cold to hot that assists the rising.

The trick is to allow the batter to rest and to chill it. This is what makes it such a perfect cake. If you know you are having a girlfriend drop by either later that day or the even the following morning you can make the batter up, then place it in the fridge. When you are ready to cook them, make sure the oven is hot and then just pull the batter out of the fridge, scoop it into the molds and stick them straight into the hot oven. Voila. 10 minutes later you have beautiful freshly baked cakes to impress your family and friends. Like any small cakes, they are most delicious eaten the day they are made but if there are any left over they taste wonderful the next day, particularly dipped into a cup of coffee or tea.

Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). If not using silicone molds, butter the Madeleine tins well with melted butter. This mixture makes 12 – 20 Madeleines depending on whether you use the miniature or traditional size molds.

52 g (1.8 oz) unsalted butter;  60g (2oz) castor sugar;  2 eggs;  1 teaspoon vanilla, (other flavourings such as orange water or rose water, grated rind of a lemon, lime or orange, cardamom etc.;  52 g (1.8 oz) plain cake flour

Melt the butter over a gentle heat and allow to cool. Put sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat together until the mixture forms a thick mousse.  Add the vanilla to the mixture and blend well. Other flavourings can be used.

Fold in the sifted flour and using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix well. Fold in the melted butter and blend well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour and even overnight.

Remove from the fridge, divide batter between the molds filling them about ¾ full. The fuller the shell, the rounder the hump on the cakes will be. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until golden. Remove from the pans immediately and allow to cool on a rack. Make a cup of coffee or tea pick up a cake and sit back and enjoy.