Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mini Banana Muffins with Toasted Walnut Buttercream

I had another opportunity to cater a Duluth Art Institute party this week!  I always think it's fun to come up with finger foods for a semi-fancy event.  These muffins were a perfect addition to the spread.

I really love the challenge of catering, and it's definitely a challenge for me!  I work full time so preparing for an event like this (and feeding 75 people) requires a full week of micro managing my time.  But, it always comes off without a hitch and I think I'm getting the hang of it.

For this event, here is what I settled on serving:

  • a little cracker sandwich with garlic sprouts, ham, swiss, lemon mustard aioli and pickled red onions (holy crap they were good)
  • phyllo cups filled with a parmesan, walnut and honey mousse
  • a skewer salad of salami, provolone, pickle and sun dried tomatoes
  • a homemade blue cheese dressing that's to die for with sugar snap peas and celery hearts
  • mini banana muffins with toasted walnut buttercream (recipe below)
  • double lemon cream pies.
And the art institute provided wines and lemon water for beverages.  It was a beautiful show with compliments all around for both the artists and the food!

Moist Banana Muffins (or Quick Bread)
Makes 2 loaves of bread or about 60 mini muffins.

3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter 2  9 inch bread pans or spray muffin tins with baking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl for 2 minutes using an electric mixer on high speed. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until light in color, about 2 minutes. Add mashed bananas and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl, mixing together with a large spoon just until the flour disappears.

Pour batter into prepared pans (filling muffin tins about 3/4 full) and bake bread for 50 minutes or mini muffins for 14 minutes (until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean). Set aside to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

Toasted Walnut Buttercream
American Buttercream is about the easiest frosting you can make. It's easily flavored with anything from herbs to extracts, but for banana bread I love the addition of toasted nuts.  Makes about 2 cups of frosting.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1 cup ground toasted walnuts

Beat butter for a minute with a mixer on medium speed. Add powdered sugar, salt and cinnamon and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer to medium and add vanilla and milk or cream. Beat for 3 minutes on medium.

Add toasted walnuts (to toast your own, bake on a sheet pan at 350F, tossing here and there  for about 15 minutes until smelling toasty, then grind in a food processor).  Beat for one minute longer. 

Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within several days.

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