My dearest, darling child. Oh how I wish I had video-recorded the last four hours, as proof of my mommy-awesomeness. So, when you are fifteen, and hate me for not letting you go on a date with the creepy lacrosse captain who refuses to look me in the eye, I can show you the evidence of my hard work and you will say, “Oh, yes, you really ARE a great mom. You are clearly always looking out for my best interest, so I must be the one who’s being unreasonable.”
In the meantime, here I sit at the kitchen island in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for your banana mini muffins to finish cooking and cooling, so I can give them a slick coat of cream cheese frosting before they’re packed up, transported, and devoured tomorrow by you and eleven other four-year-old pre-schoolers as they croon an adorable rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”
What’s that you say? Big fat deal? You could bake these muffins in your sleep? Let me make this clear. While these crispy cakes of banana goodness are in the oven, I have been poring through photographs of the last four years, trying to find THE ONE from each year of your life that captures your essence in a single look or gesture. While painstakingly mounting them on posterboard, I am considering how I will entertain your friends during circle time.
Will I bring up the time you ran around the yard, screaming hysterically because you couldn’t find your scooter? Only, you dropped the “s” off the beginning of “scooter” because you were three and couldn’t pronounce it. Nope, that one’s entirely inappropriate. Maybe I’ll sleep on it and come up with something better-suited for my audience in the morning.
I actually think you and I were supposed to glue and reminisce together, but someone didn’t read the school’s birthday instructions clearly until just now, and thought that bringing in this special snack was the extent of my maternal duties….
I can promise you, though, these cakes will knock your keds off. The black-skinned bananas were right on the edge of fruit-fly purgatory, so strongly-scented that they reminded me of the neon-yellow artificially flavored banana taffy I used to love as a kid.
I even remembered to leave the eggs and sour cream out for a few hours to bring them up to room temperature; a secret baking trick to ensure that they emulsify with the banana mash, so you end up with an even spongy cake lacking tunnels and tough spots.
When you are old enough to be really sassy, I will be expecting something along the lines of, “I hate you and you’ve never done anything nice for me,” some variation of which I remember saying once or twice to my own mother during an adolescent rage.
Payback is hell little one, but in the meantime, at least we have these muffins!
Makes 24 mini muffins plus a few extra OR one loaf of banana bread
Kitchen Tip: The key to making these muffins is making sure you don’t overfill the cups. Don’t fill all the way up to the rim. Instead, leave about ¼ of an inch at the top for rising. If you are making a bread instead of muffins, leave about an inch and a half at the top of the loaf pan. Otherwise, the middle will never cook and you’ll be left with a gaping, oozing hole (based on personal experience).
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup canola oil
- 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 325 degrees.
- Spray the cups of a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, careful not to over-spray.
- In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. (My daughter loves to do that part).
- Using a stand mixer with the whip attachment, add the eggs to the bowl and whip on low for a few seconds, until the yolks are broken. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for about five minutes, until the mixture is pale and fluffy. If using a hand mixer, this will take about eight minutes.
- On low speed, add the oil SLOWLY so it emulsifies into the batter, as if you’re adding oil to the vinegar in a salad dressing. It should take about a full minute to incorporate all of it.
- Add the bananas, crème fraiche or sour cream, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed until it is just barely combined.
- Remove the bowl from the mixture and fold the flour into the wet ingredients with a spatula, until everything is just barely combined. Using tablespoons or a mini ice cream scoop, add the batter to the muffin pans, careful not to overfill.
- If making mini muffins, bake for 18 to 24 minutes, or until the tops are browned and springy to the touch, rotating halfway through.
- If you’re making a banana bread, fill the loaf pan, leaving about 1 ¼ inches at the top. Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, or until the top is golden brown and the center feels springy.
- Allow the cakes/bread to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Don’t try to pop them out too early because they need time to firm up or they will stick to the bottom of the pan and rip or deflate.
- Put the cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for a few minutes, until smooth. Add the butter and beat for another minute. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated into the cream cheese. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for another minute. Scrape down the bowl again, beat for a few more seconds, until well mixed.