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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life's Short, Eat Dessert First: April's Meal of The Month

Banana Cupcakes with a Salted Pretzel Crust Topped with Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Cream

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Pretzel Crust:

1 1/4 cups finely crushed salted pretzels (the consistency of graham cracker crumbs)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup Nutella, softened.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons milk, if needed
For the crust combine crushed pretzels and butter in a bowl and stir until entire mixture is moistened. Line a muffin tin with lines and using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop pretzels into the bottom of each liner. Use the back of the spoon to flatten and press the pretzels together.
For the cake combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside. In a bowl, whisk egg and add brown sugar, mixing until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Add melted butter and mix. Stir in dry ingredients, then add mashed bananas and mix until batter comes together. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter on top of each pretzel crust.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on the top and set. Let cool completely.
For the frosting,in the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and Nutella until creamy. Add in vanilla extract then gradually add in sugar and cocoa with the mixer on low speed until entirely combined and smooth. If frosting it a bit too thick, add in milk 1 teaspoon at a time until it becomes a bit creamier. Frost cupcakes, then top with crushed pretzels if desired.  When our test kitchen made their batch, they sunk whole pretzels into the butter cream!

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