“Spring in Hokkaido” Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Whipped out the Wilton No. 103 petal tip for these when two friends J and XL came over to bake on a Sunday afternoon! And believe it or not, it’s a one-bowl recipe, and only one tip was used for this really simple decoration, which I’ll write about later 🙂

The banana chocolate cupcake / muffins were adapted from Marsha’s Baking Addiction. I chose it as it seems to have a good balance of what I like in a banana cupcake – something that is moist, flavorful yet light, when paired with buttercream roses. It has a pretty high content of banana (and I had 2 large ripe ones we needed to use up), and is also leavened by sour cream / green yogurt that usually provides a nice dimension to otherwise “simple sugars” from the banana and chocolate.

Main Modifications: reduced sugar from 150g to 100g, and replaced the 240ml Greek-style yogurt to 100ml of sour cream and topped up the rest with 140ml milk to make up 1 cup (240ml). No particular reason, except that those were the ingredients I had on hand. Usually with baking it’s advised  not to play around with the ingredients too much, but I was quite sure this would be ok, because both sour cream and greek yogurt are both acidic ingredients that will react nicely to the baking soda. This chemical reaction will create gas bubbles that will make your cakes rise to be light and fluffy. Greek yogurt/sour cream always makes bakes good more moist, and provides a tartness to balance out the sweetness.  The milk is a bit of a gamble – but I treated it as “home made buttermilk” haha (which is made by mixing 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to every cup of whole milk and left to sit for 5 minutes until it turns sour). In terms of texture, the acidity in sour cream tenderizes the gluten in the flour to provide the moist and almost springy texture with a fine crumb, which consistently keeps very well and doesn’t dry out.

The product is a super moist and light chocolate banana cupcake, that’s moist, springy, and not overly oily that we sometimes get from banana bread bought from bakeries. (I like that this recipe gets most of its richness from the banana and sour cream than oil or butter – only 60ml in this recipe! Not a fan of banana breads that makes my fingers oily afterwards). And would definitely recommend the chocolate chips for additional indulgence! The actual cake is not heavy so it allows for that additional gooey chocolate chips melted within.

For the decorations, the only thing you need is one floral tip (Wilton No. 103 or 104)! One floral tip + no fear of failure haha. If you fail just scrape away. After that, just play around with the direction, pressure and the angle you pipe on the flowers. A tip for making neat gradient florals is something I learnt off a combination of videos Youtube, such as here, and here. When you wrap up each color in saran wrap, it allows for easy switching of colors and prevents color from mixing in your piping bag. In the first video, they used 2 piping bags within one big piping bag, which you can do as well. I find it easier if you put in 3 tubes of saran wrapped buttercream into one big piping bag!

This technique is nice for the Singapore weather as well. Because you can easily take out each color from the piping bag neatly, it stops you from wasting colored buttercream that accidentally mixed together, and you can always return each individual colored tube to the fridge the moment you feel that it starting to melt. My friend picked these 3 colors almost randomly but we ended up loving the effect and thought it reminded of our senior trip in Japan – perhaps it’s a combo of Hokkaido Melon desserts, purple Lavender ice cream from Farm Tomita in Furano, and the greenery we saw such as at Lake Bieie. Much nostalgia and if you know me you know I’m a sucker for that.. so here are more pictures from the trip we dug out :’)

 

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Girl pic at Lake Beier with @jasminkohjm

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The gang at Lake Beier, the blue-est lake we’ve ever seen

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Lavender Ice Cream at Farm Tomita with the lovely lavender dressed @thanita.p

 

“Spring in Hokkaido” Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Ingredients

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes adapted from Marsha’s Baking Addiction

1 and 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50g) cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g chocolate chips
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
100 ml sour cream
140ml milk

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream from Natasha’s Kitchen

3 large (90 grams) egg whites
171 grams granulated sugar
145 grams unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract/ vanillin powder
1/4 tsp salt

Additional Decorating Ingredients

Purple mini sugar petals (from Phoon Huat)
Gold chocolate flakes (from Phoon Huat)
White sprinkles
1 banana cut into pieces
Food coloring
Colorful cupcake cases from Wilton
Wilton No. 103 or 104 petal tip

To make Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with muffin cases, then set aside

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together the egg, banana, vanilla, vegetable oil, and yogurt or sour cream/milk mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cases and sprinkle on some gold chocolate flakes before baking. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean with a few moist crumbs. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

In a large saucepan, place mixing bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Add egg whites and cups sugar and whisk together until frothy. Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160ËšF (takes about 3 min). Sugar should be fully dissolved (no granules when rubbing mixture between finger tips). Mixture will feel hot to the touch (or like the temperature of warm baby milk).

Once bowl is at room temperature, switch to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it is absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until it reaches a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquidy at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped. Add 2 tsp vanilla powder and 1/4 tsp salt and mix on med-high until incorporated.

Fix mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium high speed until smooth and creamy. Begin adding room temperature butter, a few slices at a time. Add the salt and continue to whip until all the butter has been incorporated. Switch the paddle attachment and beat for a few more minutes, until the frosting is silky.

To Decorate and Assemble

Core out the center of each cooled banana cupcake with an apple corer or a piping tip. Fill it with a piece of additional banana. Pipe on the florals – the technique is demonstrated here – except, play with the directions on how you hold the piping bags. For example, depending on how you position the tip, you can get orange on top, versus purple on top, etc. Just have fun! Finally place a flower or white sprinkles into the center of each cupcake!

 

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