Thursday, October 23, 2008

Banana Butterscotch Stress Relief

My week of midterm hell is finally over so I can now emerge from study-cave and return to baking and blogging. The natural light, oh how it burns. Midterms actually went better than expected. Expected being I fail everything and than have a stroke. I really work myself into a panic, see. But it leads me to study harder so hey.

Here's me destressing in Chicago after (most) of my midterms:

And here's how I was coping:
Don't worry, midterms didn't drive me to drink. But this year was the first year I could get a drink at the bar at the Hancock Building and bloody marys are one of the few mixed drinks I like, mostly because the spicy tomato juice mixture hides the alcohol and I'm a wuss. Joe and I went to Sam's, a giant alcohol warehouse in Chicago that Joe has been drooling over and I wandered around bored for awhile and ended up buying some salted caramels and preserved pears. Leave it to me to find the sweet gourmet goodies hidden in the corner in a giant warehouse.

Anyways. Midterms.

Most of the not-failing-everything-and-having-a-stroke can be credited to my statistics tutor, whom I now owe my first born child. Stats has been kind of a hit or miss class for me, either I get the material instantly or have absolutely no idea what's going on. The midterm was on four chapters, two of which I felt confident in, one of which I was hazy on and the final one I had no idea what the hell I was doing. Obviously I'm not that strong in math but I did quickly realize that having an understanding of 2 out of 4 chapters would leave me with a 50% on the midterm. Que panic attacks and some frantic e-mails to the tutor. A few marathon sessions with the tutor and I aced the midterm. Well, not really but an 87% when I would've otherwise failed is pretty good, no? The points I missed were stupid, there was actually one question I got right, looked back on, and changed my answer. ARGH.

In any case, now that midterms are over I finally got around to making the banana butterscotch cupcakes my sister recommended, which have been on my 'to-make' list for awhile now. I love butterscotch and a banana/butterscotch combo sounded delish.

The recipe was from this Chronicle book, which I definitely want to buy now. I LOVED the cake recipe, it came out light, fluffy with an almost caramelized top. I really dig the banana butterscotch combination, though next time I may try subbing brown sugar in for at least part of the regular sugar to see if I can make the banana cake a bit more buttescotchy on it's own, rather than banana cake studded with butterscotch flavor from the chips.

I was going to be mean and not give out the recipe because A) I felt bad giving out the recipe from a cookbook I don't even own and B) all I had was scanned pages of the recipe and I was too lazy to type it up. But a quick search on the interwebz turned up a few blogs that had already ripped off the recipe so I don't feel bad giving it out. They did it first! Blame them!

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 medium bananas, broken into pieces
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup butterscotch chips

Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cupcake Directions:
Preheat oven to 350:
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy.
Add banana and mix well.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each of them.
Add vanilla and beat for one minute.
Add half flour and mix well.
Add buttermilk and mix well.
Add remaining flour and mix well.
Stir in butterscotch chips.
Spoon batter into greased cupcake pan or paper liners.
Fill cups to about 1/4 inch below top of liner or pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until cupcakes pass toothpick test.
Place on cooling rack until cool.

Icing directions:
Over low heat add brown sugar and half and half.
Stir often until brown sugar dissolves.
Increase heat and bring to a boil.
Boil for 1 minute, stirring often.
Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate until cool to the touch (about 45 min.)
In large bowl beat butter and powdered sugar until it is smooth.
Add vanilla and brown sugar mixture.
Mix until smooth and creamy.

Using a small spatula, top banana cupcakes with 1.5 Tbsp. of frosting.

The only substitution I made was rice rice milk instead of the half and half in the frosting, which I know sounds totally awful but we didn't have any half-and-half and we never have real milk either since I don't like it so we buy soy or rice milk instead. Whenever Joe pouts about me being vegetarian, I just tell him he can be glad I'm not vegan since I was born not liking meat, eggs or milk. Still haven't taken the plunge to veganism though.

Despite the weird sub, I liked the frosting recipe too but honestly I'm not a huge frosting person, at least American style with butter and powdered sugar. I'm a frosting snob and I much prefer French buttercream but I couldn't be bothered to make any, so I just left half the batch unfrosted for me. The frosting tasted like caramel to me, not butterscotch, but it's not like a caramel frosted banana butterscotch cupcake was a bad thing.

And oh, update on the cassata cake: once I got over hating the cake, I tasted it and it was indeed good. Brian can also vouch for that, since I think he ate 90% of it. He told me I'm banned from making another cassata cake for at least a month while he tries to lose weight. Which is a bummer for me, since a large part of the Sophie Weight Loss Plan is baking whatever I want, eating one and then pawning the rest off on other people, primarily Brian and Joe. It works, I've lost 15 lbs at the expense of others waistlines. Sorry, guys.

Next up: Halloween goodies and birthday goodies! And oh, ps: I bought a holiday cookie magazine special with 101 cookie recipes and have decided to make it a goal to bake every cookie recipe in it. What can I say, it seemed like a good idea when I was stressed. So expect lots of cookies in the near future.

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