Last week my sister hosted a Summer cocktail party that doubled as a birthday celebration for two friends. Since I've been known to make birthday cakes in the past, she asked me if I could do two cakes for the party. Immediately I began to worry: baking and assembling two cakes requires a lot of time. Just as I was starting to panic, I remembered the ingenious invention that is the cupcake! Each birthday girl could get her own minicake topped with a candle. Inspired by our slideshow of unconventional cupcake recipes, I decided to make hummingbird cupcakes. A native to the South, hummingbird cake is a cream cheese-frosted white cake with crushed pineapple, coconut, mashed bananas, and walnuts mixed into the batter. It's sweet, moist, fruity, crunchy, creamy, and divine — quite simply, it's everything you want in a cupcake. Although the pineapple topping is extra work, it's worth it. The cupcakes wouldn't be the same without the feathery juicy dried pineapple. To take a look at the recipe I used,
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
- 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe below
- Dried Pineapple Flowers, recipe below
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in flour mixture.
- Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with dried pineapple flowers, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 24 cupcakes.
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.
- Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
Makes 3 cups.
2 large or 4 small pineapples, peeled
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.
- Using a small melon baller, remove and discard all pineapple skin.
- Using a sharp knife, cut pineapple crosswise into very thin slices. Transfer slices to baking sheets.
- Bake until tops look dried, about 30 minutes. Flip slices; bake until completely dried, 25 to 30 minutes more. Pinch center of each pineapple slice to shape into a cone, and let cool in a clean egg carton to form flowers. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Makes about 2 dozen.
- Desserts, Cake