sweet love: banana cake cupcakes

Do all babies love bananas as much as Mari? Probably. As if there were any other option for Miss Mari's birthday cupcakes, we went with banana cake. And if you know anything about me, then you know cream cheese frosting will be involved.
She loved them, and so did I. My mom helped me bake, so we used her favorite banana bread recipe, from her grandmother Grace. This is the banana bread I grew up with (sans nuts, for the birthday girl), and is tied with Whitney's recipe, my other favorite in this department.

Topped with cream cheese frosting, I followed Camille Styles' helpful guide on how to frost a cupcake, magnolia style. I was elbow-deep in frosting, butter knife in one hand and a scrolling mouse in the other as I meticulously followed Camille's guide. Nothing new to my kitchen (or my laptop, for that matter).

The sweet cakes were were adorned some love; Wilton jumbo heart sprinkles, found in stores around Valentine's Day and online the other 11 months of the year. Don't waste your time aimlessly wandering stores in July is all I'm saying.
Great Grandma Grace's Banana Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Yield: 30ish large cupcakes (or 2 large loaves of banana bread)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tins with liners.

Mix together flour, baking soda and powder and salt. I like to whisk them together for a lazy sift. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar and then mix in eggs, one at a time, and bananas.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the banana mixture in three additions, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl in between each addition. Add nuts, if using.

Divide batter evenly among the cupcake tins, filling about 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

The Barefoot Contessa's Cream Cheese Frosting
From How Easy is That, page 219

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

Place the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. Don't whip. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
Number '1' cake topper is a Spritz number, from Target. Mari's cupcake got a little lift from a mini cake stand, from Shop Sweet Lulu.

All photos by Jenna Beth Photography.

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