Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


(Not Very) Scary Cakes

Long ago, of my coworkers earned the nickname, "Scary Cakes." I wasn't around at the time, but I gather it was hoisted upon him after he recommended that every conceivable occasion deserved a new line of themed cupcakes.

Cupcakes were produced for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's, Mother's Day, Football Season, Groundhog Day, National Tortilla Chip Day... you get the picture. It was scary.

Last week, I was talking with the nutritionist at work about healthier Halloween treats and I thought about how the holiday really is a nutritional wasteland. It's about bags and buckets of processed sugar bombs and cheaply made pseudo-chocolate.

Halloween features the occasional caramel-covered apple, but for the most part, it's grim. The pumpkins aren't for eating, and there's no corn in candy corn (unless you count high-fructose corn syrup).

Inspired by the thought that a homemade banana muffin with fruit, nuts and some whole-grain flour is a far better nutritional deal than most Halloween treats, I made these cuties, which I'm going to call "Not Very Scary Cakes" in honor of my office's own patron saint of holiday cupcakes.

not-so-scary cakes
Woooooo! (Not Very) Scary Cakes haunt the windowsill.

Okay, now come up really close to your screen so I can whisper this:
{they're not technically cupcakes... they're banana muffins slathered with honeyed cream cheese, okay? but they look like cupcakes, so just call them banana-walnut cakes with cream cheese icing and don't tell anyone it's not cake!}

Not Very Scary Cakes (Makes a dozen)

For the Muffins:
1 3/4 cups flour (I like to use a blend of whole-wheat and AP flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup mashed banana (from 1 to 2 very ripe bananas)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional, but really good)

For the Cream Cheese Spread:
1 8-oz package neufatchel cheese or reduced-fat cream cheese
1-2 Tbsp honey (to taste)

A handful of dark raisins or chocolate chips (for eyes)

1. Heat the oven to 375°F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners (or rub the cups with some vegetable oil on a paper towel).

2. Blend flour, baking powder, salt and walnuts in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and mashed banana. When well blended, add in yogurt, oil, egg and vanilla extract.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Don't overmix. Nobody loves a tough muffin.

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake until golden (about 25 minutes). When done, remove from the oven and move the muffins onto a wire rack to cool.

6. Meanwhile, whip together the honey and cream cheese to a spreading consistency.
When the muffins are cool, slather the cream cheese spread over the tops and decorate with the "eyes" of your choice.

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