These cupcakes look a bit like ice cream sundaes, don’t they? I guess I was craving something as aesthetically pleasing as a big ice cream sundae, but with the cold weather outside, I don’t know that ice cream would be the best choice. I did, however, look to my favorite cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, for inspiration, and came across these Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream. If you’ve never made your own pastry cream before, I highly recommend giving it a go. It’s really quite simple – the only hard part is just watching the cream to make sure it doesn’t break while you’re cooking it. The result is a velvety, almost pudding-like cream that goes well on almost any dessert, especially one made with banana. The pastry cream on top of these moist banana cupcakes is a genius idea, and I’m glad that Baked was able to bring the combination to my attention. I made these for a friend’s birthday, and I think that he really liked them. Kramer absolutely loved them, so I made sure to make a few extras for us to enjoy at home. The cupcakes themselves were absolutely perfect. They rose just the right amount and had a bright, bold banana flavor. The pastry cream, however, is truly what makes these special, and I guarantee it will take all of your collective will power to not just eat the pastry cream straight out of the bowl. It is described in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking as something like a French version of traditional American pudding, and I think that’s pretty accurate. I’d love to try using this pastry cream to fill some cupcakes or doughnuts with, but we’ll save that for another day. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I can’t think of a better (and honestly, easier) cupcake to make for your significant other.
Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
Beat together the butter and the shortening.
Add in the sugar, vanilla, and then the eggs, then add in the mashed bananas.
Alternate adding in the flour and the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour.
Fill each muffin cup with about 1/4 cup of batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, until set and just barely golden.
Allow to cool completely before frosting with the pastry cream.
Make the pastry cream while the cupcakes cool. Start by heating up your heavy cream.
Whisk together your egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
Temper the yolk mixture by adding in half of the warm heavy cream and whisking. Then, add the tempered yolk mixture back into the pot with the rest of the heavy cream. Whisk for 5-6 minutes, until thickened.
Place some plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream so that a skin doesn’t form, and chill for about an hour in the fridge, until firm and cool.
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1½ cups very ripe bananas, mashed (about 4 bananas)
- ½ cup buttermilk (or 1½ teaspoons vinegar + ½ cup regular milk)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- chocolate sprinkles
- maraschino cherries
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.
- Beat the butter and shortening together until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, at least 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs one at a time until combined. Add in the mashed bananas and beat until just combined. Gradually add in ⅓ of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk, then ⅓ of the flour mixture, than half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture, until just moistened - it's better to finish mixing the batter by hand than risk over-beating the batter.
- Fill each cupcake liner with about ¼ cup of batter each. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. A toothpick should come out clean; the cupcakes should be set and just barely golden. Place the pans on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- While the cupcakes cool, make the pastry cream. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm heavy cream into the egg yolk mixture, to temper it, then pour the egg and cream mixture into the remaining warm heavy cream in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened - about 6 minutes. If it looks like the pastry cream is starting to break, remove the pot from heat and whisk quickly to bring it back together.
- Remove the mixture from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the fridge for about an hour, or until chilled completely.
- Frost the cupcakes however you like - I placed the pastry cream in a plastic bag, then cut off a large portion of the tip so I would get a nice dollop of pastry cream on each cupcake. Sprinkle with the sprinkles and top with a maraschino cherry that you have patted with a paper towel (to make sure that it doesn't turn the pastry cream red).
- A note about pastry cream: Pastry cream cannot sit out at room temperature for very long. I suggest frosting the cupcakes before you plan to serve. I made the cupcakes and pastry cream on one day, then frosted them on the next day, refrigerated the cupcakes for a few hours, then placed them in an airtight container and took them to my friend's house.