The Gwen Stefani Cupcake: The Sweet Escape; Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chunks and Chocolate Ganache with a Buttercream Swirl
(Gwen Stefani: The Sweet Escape)
Hi friends! You might be wondering why I am dedicating a cupcake to Gwen Stefani; I have an explanation! Naturally, it all goes back to my little guy... he is 8 years old. Since he was about 3 years old, he has been a HUGE fan of Gwen Stefani. He loves her music (No Doubt and her current solo projects), he loves the way she looks, her style, he loves everything about her! He has even gone so far as to tell me he likes (and approves) of her husband Gavin Rossdale. It is so, so cute to watch him whenever there is anything "Gwen Stefani" related in the news, especially when she is shown with her own "little guy!" His little ears just perk right up!
With that as a preface, I thought it would be fun to surprise my little guy with a "Cupcake Tribute" to one of his favorite female singers since he has been bopping around the house with his iPod singing her songs all week (for months)! Is there such a thing as Harajuku Boy opening for the tour? If so, I know someone who would LOVE to apply for the position!
Okay. Moving on. As slender as our darling Gwen is, I am sure she does not indulge in sweets too often, and since she is expecting baby #2, maybe she will try a batch of "The Sweet Escape Cupcakes" when she is craving something yummy! I am sure there could be different variations, but this one seemed to me to be the best way to describe Gwen Stefani in a cupcake! (If that is at all possible!) THE SWEET ESCAPE CUPCAKE is a warm, luscious banana cupcake with rich, dark chocolate chunks, frosted with an ultra-decadent chocolate ganache and topped off with a creamy buttercream swirl. This cupcake is not complete without a signature crimson color, so I put a red M&M on top of the swirl. If you look really close you can see it says "U ROCK!". One word for this creation... YUM!
Banana Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Chunks
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 1/2 oz. good quality dark chocolate (Recommend Hershey's), roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees.
2. Line cupcake pan with baking cups or use large nut cups. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
4. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened; do not beat.
5. Stir in the banana, buttermilk and vanilla.
(The mixture looks like lumpy oatmeal, as pictured below!)
6. Fold in roughly chopped dark chocolate.
7. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 17 to 23 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. VERY IMPORTANT: allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting with Chocolate Ganache. (Recipe Below)
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips (Recommend Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1. In a double boiler over simmering water, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
2. Frost completely cooled cupcakes and allow ganache to cool. Decorate the top with Buttercream Swirl. (Recipe Below)
Buttercream Swirl Frosting
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.
2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.
5. Beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy. Add Wilton gel "Yellow" in small amount to achieve desired pastel color.
6. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.