Bananas in Paradise Cupcakes

A few months back, Chiquita ran a baking contest.  The concept was to make a recipe using 3 required ingredients. I decided it would be a cool challenge to take the suggested ingredients and come up with a recipe. I'm sure your deductive reasoning already led you to figure out that bananas are one of the 3, but the next two on this particular week was hazelnut spread and coconut.  Of course that opened the door to boatloads of possibilities, but to me a solid choice was a cupcake.  I've used bananas in place of eggs in recipes (Hazelnut Flour and Banana Cupcakes), so I know the banana adds a good amount of moistness and denseness to a cupcake.  Plus, adding coconut oil would take the flavor to the next level.  The next decision was on what to do for the hazelnut.  Frosting?  I considered it.  But what about filling?  I had tried adding peanut butter to the center of a cupcake for the Gluten-free cupcakes recipe, and opted to take the same method here.  Finally, the coconut.  Recently, I had grabbed some coconut milk for Curry Chicken, so I figured I would add a bit to the batter.  But the frosting...why not pour some in?  And toasted coconut flakes on top?!  Yes, yes, and yes!


So now that I've explained my mental pathway here, how about the recipe?  I first mixed together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.



In a large mixing bowl, I mixed the coconut oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Then, I added the vanilla and coconut milk, then the eggs.  Gradually, I added the flour mixture to the liquids, then stirred in 2 mashed bananas.


I spooned the batter into a cupcake pan lined with papers until it was about 1/3 full.  I added a glob of Nutella in the center, then topped it with another bit of batter to fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way.



They looked quite perfect after 20 minutes of baking.




I wanted to try another method as I received a cupcake corer for my birthday.  I baked some plain cupcakes with no filling so I could add the Nutella post-baking.  I scooped out the center and gently added a spoonful of Nutella.  Note my pile of cupcake cores.


I toasted the coconut by spreading some coconut flakes out on a pan lined with parchment paper and toasted them for 3-5 minutes in the oven.  They brown quite quickly so keep an eye on it!


I made the frosting as I had with my homemade buttercream, except this time I used coconut milk instead of regular milk in an attempt to get some more coconut flavor going.


My, my, my...these turned out to be my best cupcakes yet!  The three flavor choices of banana, hazelnut spread, and coconut were a great combination.  The Nutella baked in the center worked out better than the filling I added in post-baking.  I am thinking the baking got it to melt into the batter some, allowing for consistent texture throughout the cupcake.  If I were to add it again to the center, I would whisk some air into it first.  This would lighten it up, as I felt like the thick filling in the center took away from the cupcake.  Now the frosting was awesome.  It was a bit more liquidy than typical, so I kept the cupcakes in the fridge. As a matter off fact, I used a frosting tip to decorate the cupcake pictured above, however it looks like I just globbed it on with a knife.  This recipe didn't end up winning the baking contest, however myself, my family, and my coworkers all got some flavorful enjoyment out of the process.

Bananas in Paradise Cupcakes Recipe
Hazelnut-filled Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 bananas
1/4 cup Nutella hazelnut spread

For the frosting/topping:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup coconut milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted coconut

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add coconut oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to a mixing bowl.  Beat for 30 seconds to combine.   Add vanilla and coconut milk, then eggs, one at a time.   In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add into mixing bowl, beating in-between additions until all flour has been mixed in.  In another small bowl, mash the bananas.  Stir into batter.  Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake papers.  Spoon some batter into cupcake paper, filling it about 1/3 of the way.  Then, use a spoon to add a small glob of hazelnut spread in the center, about 1/2 teaspoon.  Spoon more batter over the top to cover the hazelnut spread, filling the cupcake paper about 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, then set aside to cool. To make frosting, add butter to mixing bowl. Beat 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, then add coconut milk and vanilla extract and mix until blended. To make toasted coconut, spread coconut flakes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 4-5 minutes.  Frost cooled cupcakes and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.

Inspired by banana cupcakes

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