A Little Tropical Action

September 28th, 2010

Hi! It’s been a while…oops. No cupcake competitions this month. Honestly I just wasn’t feeling the Mystery Box theme (I am not a sentimental person and the things I liked as a kid were pretty boring…ok at one point I had a great idea but it was on the last possible day to enter and I wouldn’t have had enough time to take pictures after making them). And my Cupcake Hero entry did not go as planned, although I now know how to make a sort of addictive Cheeto cream cheese frosting (just ask me if you want THAT recipe). But I’ve done other things, and I am going to share them with you here. You get TWO recipes today, hooray!

Wish you could smell this.

Nutty goodness.

The first thing I’m going to show you is brought to you in part by Oh Nuts! of Brooklyn. I was contacted by them and asked if I’d like to try some of their bulk nuts and dried fruit for use in a recipe. Of course I said yes! It took me a while to decide what I wanted to try (they have a HUGE selection, and I’ll definitely be placing future bulk orders through them), and eventually I decided on raw macadamia nuts (because they are generally not something I would buy due to their price) and dried candied kiwi (which I’d never had before).

Greeeeeeen!

Kiwis: now in technicolor.

The kiwis are honestly kind of a better snack than an ingredient, but I did use a few alongside candied pineapple and papaya (from the store downstairs) in my first creation, some coconut macaroons topped with macadamias.

So tropical!

Both nutty & coconutty.

Where is the fruit, you ask? It’s a surprise!

Hidden jewels!

Hey, fruit!

However, that is not one of the recipes I will be sharing today. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the way they came out and they were a pain in the butt to shape without them falling apart. They were tasty, but I thought the macadamias deserved a little something more special. So I made something else.

So banana-y.

Crunchy & soft.

I decided to make macadamia-topped banana mochi cakes. I couldn’t find an actual recipe for banana mochi cakes, just one for Hawaiian mochi banana bread. It sounded great but contained Bisquick, something I definitely don’t keep in my kitchen, so I found a recipe for a Bisquick substitute and replaced the flour with non-glutinous rice flour to keep them gluten-free. I also added what I believe to be the banana’s best friend: Chinese 5 spice powder. And to give another slight dimension to the flavors, I used a splash of sesame oil.

Innards!

Oh them banana speckles.

But that’s not all. Oh no. You see, I thought that banana and macadamia weren’t quite enough. I wanted a third flavor. I asked on Twitter. The responses were basically all cries for chocolate and coconut. But I had no chocolate in my possession (or else I’d have added cocoa nibs, I’m sure) and I didn’t want to mess with the texture by adding dessicated coconut. There was a third flavor that kept floating to the top of my brain – CARAMEL – but for a while I just couldn’t figure out the best way to add it to the batter without compromising the recipe. So I took a step back and thought about all the things that went into the recipe. It quickly became obvious that I just had to caramelize the bananas first! So I did. And the cupcakes were amazing.

Caramelization rules!

Pretty cake!

Caramelized Banana Mochi Cakes with Macadamias

  1. 4 medium bananas, ripe
  2. 1/4 cup sugar in the raw
  3. 5 g baking powder
  4. 2 g sugar
  5. 48 g rice flour (not Mochiko)
  6. 23 g vegetable oil
  7. 8 oz. Mochiko
  8. 2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  11. 3/4 cup sugar
  12. 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  13. Splash of sesame oil
  14. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  15. 2 1/2 eggs (scramble one egg and add half the weight to the other two)
  16. 1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

Slice the bananas in half lengthwise and place on a foil-lined sheet or broiler tray. Sprinkle the raw sugar in a thick layer. Broil or torch until the sugar is melted and well caramelized. Allow to cool, then puree thoroughly in a blender and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the 5 g baking powder, 2 g sugar and non-Mochiko rice flour in a medium-large bowl and use a pastry cutter to cut in the 23 g vegetable oil. You want the mixture to be in tiny crumbs…crumblets, if you will. Whisk in the Mochiko, baking soda, salt, 5 spice and sugar. Stir in the oil and vanilla, then the eggs, then the bananas. Allow the batter to rest for a couple of minutes, then spoon it into lined muffin tins. Sprinkle with chopped macadamias and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges of the cake tops are browned. Makes about 16 cupcakes.

These cupcakes, unlike most mochi cakes, are actually really good while still warm (like most banana baked goods), though a bit oily. They don’t get quite as chewy as a normal all-mochi cake, but they are extra soft and crazy fragrant. I declared them possibly the most banana-y thing EVER. Z likes them with a schmear of cream cheese.

***BONUS RECIPE Y’ALL***

I know I promised two recipes, so here’s the second one! It does deserve its own post but I only got one decent picture so I decided to just tack it on here. Prickly pears have a pretty short season so get a bunch while you can (discounted bruised-looking ones are the way to go; the outside looking yucky doesn’t mean the insides aren’t fine) and make this fast! It’s a great thing to have on hand in the early fall if you’re going through a final heat wave like much of the country is now. Just be careful and don’t touch them bare-handed – the worst pricklies are invisible!

Also hard to quenelle. Luckily, I'm a professional!

Hard to capture the insane magenta color.

Prickly Pear Sorbet

  1. 12 medium prickly pears
  2. 6 Tbsp sugar
  3. Juice of 2 limes
  4. 1 Tbsp tequila or vodka

Wearing gardening gloves or holding the fruit with an oven mitt or other form of prickle protection, slice each prickly pear in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. Combine the pulp and the other ingredients in a blender and puree thoroughly. Strain out the seeds and chill. Once cold, churn in an ice cream maker and freeze until solid and scoopable. Makes about 1 quart.

Prickly pears come from cactus plants and as such are indigenous to the American southwest, Mexico and Israel. They come in a variety of colors ranging from yellow to magenta, with magenta being the most common. They’re full of little stone-like seeds, so they’re most often consumed blended and strained into Margaritas. Both the fruit and sorbet have a simultaneously sticky and slimy quality to them that isn’t unpleasant, it just makes for some tricky scooping sometimes. It tastes at first like unripe banana, then like lime, then not at all like either of those things, and is very tasty and addictive.

2 Responses to “A Little Tropical Action”

  1. Alejandra says:

    Those banana mochi cakes look DELICIOUS!!! I will definitely be making these. (And super excited to see the prickly pear sorbet recipe…so gorgeous! I’m really into intensely colored food.)

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    What a genius touch to add 5-spice powder. Warm spices always go so well in banana baked goods. This gives it such a distinctive Asian flair.

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