So I had a end-of-summer party coming up, and I had offered to bring two desserts. The problem is that I really had no idea what to bring. Last year I brought Stuffed Strawberries and the Better Than Sex Trifle (both of which were huge hits!).
As it turns out, this was my week for Tuesdays with Dorie, and since I had chosen cookies and was already planning to make them, that became one of my desserts. The other idea came from a stroke of genius from my good friend Katie. She was actually offering ideas to someone else who needed inspiration, and the idea for an ice cream sundae cupcake came flying out. I instantly thought it was just about the most fantastic idea ever, and we set to work on the logistics.
Somewhere along the line, I decided I wanted mine to be banana split cupcakes, with a layer of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate cake, a layer of banana pieces, all topped with a fudgy chocolate frosting and, or course, a cherry!
Baking Illustrated (the vanilla/strawberry portions of cake), and from my cute little Cupcakes! book (for the chocolate portion). I have heard so much about Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake that I immediately thought of it for this recipe (well, the frosting, at least!).
For the assembly, the basic principle is to layer the vanilla, then strawberry, then banana, then chocolate layers, as I demonstrate here:
(Please ignore the fact that I forgot to take this last picture the first time around...and now the pan is dirty!)
Banana Split Cupcakes
Adapted from Baking Illustrated , Cupcakes!, by Elinor Klivans, and Hershey's.
Makes 24 cupcakes
For the vanilla/strawberry layers:
~2 ¼ cups ( 11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
~1 ½ cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
~2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
~3/4 teaspoon salt
~1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
~3/4 cup sour cream
~2 large eggs and 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
~2 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
~1/2 cup pureed strawberries, from fresh or frozen and thawed
~few drop red food coloring (optional)
~2 ripe bananas, sliced and quartered
For the chocolate layer:
~1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
~½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
~¼ teaspoon baking soda
~¼ teaspoon baking powder
~1/8 teaspoon salt
~¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
~½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
~1 large egg
~½ teaspoon vanilla extract
~¼ cup sour cream
~¼ cup water
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.
Begin vanilla/strawberry batter by whisking together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, eggs, and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.
Divide batter evenly into two bowls. To the strawberry bowl, fold in pureed strawberries until combined. Add food coloring, if desired, and mix well to distribute color.
Begin the chocolate batter by placing the chocolate in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, mix in the melted chocolate. On medium speed, add the egg, mixing until well blended into the batter. Add the vanilla and beat until the mixture looks creamy and the color has lightened slightly, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the water. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.
To assemble the cupcakes:
Layer 1 tablespoon of vanilla batter into cupcake liners. Follow with 1 tablespoon of strawberry batter, gently dropping it on top of the vanilla layer to reduce mixing of the two. Follow with 4 quarters of sliced banana. Finally, add 1 shy tablespoon of the chocolate batter, gently dropping it on top of the strawberry/banana layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to coop completely. Once cooled, frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting (recipe follows) and finish with a maraschino cherry.
Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
~1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
~2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
~3 cups powdered sugar
~1/3 cup milk
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.