Pistachio Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream, Bake Date at Juniors’ Creepy Love Den

This bake date I was mixing things up (mixing, like cupcakes, ha ha!), trading in (but not up!) Shana’s lovely company and kitchen, for our friend Junior’s, who wasn’t so keen on the baking part but provided me with the well stocked kitchen of his seriously awesome Yutenji apartment, owned by an eccentric (and, I like to imagine, handsome and mysterious) musician currently living abroad, which is packed literally to the roof with antiques and Weird Shit, including expensive looking old ass rugs decorating the floor, walls and ceiling, a large collection of stuffed exotic birds, and a casual grand piano (somehow all stuffed into a typical Tokyo size apartment).
Junior helped by sitting around looking pretty and providing facebook commentary.

These cupcakes were a mashup of two cake recipes, one from our friends over at , and another from , although I believe they both used the same original recipe source of the . The biggest difference being that T and A’s recipe is gluten free/flour free. I kept the flour in my recipe, as I like my cupcakes a little lighter, y’know, bouncier. It was still dense and moist and yum and brilliant. Those are becoming my two favourite and most overused words as I write for this blog. Dense and moist.

I frosted them with banana cream cheese frosting, which, as usual, I made up as I went along, loosely basing it on various googley finds and my own ingenuity and awesomeness, although with better results than usual this time. The only change I would have made is to use a different butter. I needed to thicken what what originally intended to be a cream cheese-only buttercream, and I decided to add some butter. I sent junior out to buy some, and he accidently ended up getting margarine, as a result it was a tad margarine-y tasting. Still awwweeeesome though.

These cupcakes got absolutely rave reviews from various sources, they are seriously tasty. I froze a couple for a few nights, and brought them to the restaurant I work in, and everyone who tried was positively smitten, including the head chef. Rad! And, like my vegan mango/avocado cupcakes, I think they tasted better after a couple’ days chillin’, go figure!

I had an awesome day with Junior, it was a baking success, and his wild apartment was the perfect setting for enjoying these YUUUUUMMM cupcakes with a cup of tea, appropriately while sitting on vintage lattice outdoor lawn furniture in his lounge. Our bake date turned into a dinner date as we were joined by our Danish friend Pernielle, who cooked a delicious, super calorific creamy pasta, which, plus a few bottles of wine, more cupcakes and then some horror movies in bed later made the perfect end to a wonderful Bake Date.

Here is the recipe adapted from The Food Section, the most obvious change being I ommitted the topping enirely and used almond flour instead of grinding blanched almonds for my cake

2 1/4 sticks Unsalted butter
1 Lemon
1 Vanilla bean
2/3 cup almond flour
3/4 cup Pistachios
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 Eggs
1/2 cup All-purpose flour

Use a little butter to grease your cupcake tray. Grate the peel of your lemon and set aside. Grind the pistachios.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time. add the lemon peel and vanilla, and fold in your nuts and sift in flour.

Bake at 180c for 45-60 minutes, toothpick testing at 45 onward until cooked. I think mine took around 55 minutes. In my experience these little oven/grill/microwaves found in most Japanese homes always take on the longer side when it comes to baking.

This icing is a mishmash of a million frosting across the interverse, none of which I kept track of. I am a professional.

½ cup mashed banana (or about one fat banana)
tsp lemon juice (for some reason I always err on the side of ‘too much is better than too little’ when it comes to lemon juice, I think I doubled this amount, which was the cause of not stiff frosting)
2oz OR MORE Cream cheese*
pinch salt
3 cups icing sugar
¼ tsp white vinigar

Mash your banana til its smoooooooooth baby. I mashed by hand and finished it with an electric beater.
Mix in your lemon juice, vinigar, salt and cream cheese.
Slowly beat in the icing sugar until your frosting is the desired consistency. I used a handheld electric beater, but you can do it by hand if you are badass.
It might be wise to have some butter on hand just in case this needs thickening, as mine did, just beat in a little at a time until its good n’ stiff (or not, if you prefer softer)

* I used more cream cheese, but you may not need to if you use the correct liquid amounts instead of going overboard like I did….although I believe the added lemon really brightens the banana flavour
Make sure your cream cheese is not too soft, as I think mine was.

This frosting is really rich, and paired with a somewhat dense cake like this one I thought it best not to overdo it (not usually my style, i’m learning!). I piped little swirly dollops of about an inch on each cake, sprinkled with cinnamon and decorated with a little lemon slice (in an ideal world is would have been a candied lemon slice, but whatev.)

Enjoy! Here’s me after a few (and then some more) wines, trying on Juniors wig collection