I usually look at recipes as just a suggestion of what ingredients might be considered and a method that might be good for said ingredients. A jumping off point if you will. I rarely measure – unless I’m baking. There is definitely more of a science to baking and one that I don’t feel adept enough with to start tinkering with… normally.
It’s just that with summer around the corner, I’m looking to lighten things (read: me) up a little and while I’m a big proponent of everything in moderation, including moderation, sometimes it’s nice to find solutions for a sweet craving without sending the calorie bank into bankruptcy. Rummaging in the cupboard, I found a can of Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin Pie puree and I had a banana that was about past its prime. This seemed like a good foundation for some sort of cupcake (I had just watched an episode of Cupcake Wars and had mini cakes on the brain – perhaps the Food Network is not the best choice on the elliptical at the gym).
I started Googling and came up with this recipe for Whole Wheat Pumpkin Banana Cupcakes. Yep…that will work for a start. I fully admit that a) I totally winged it from here and b) I got lucky.
Here’s what I used:
1 ripe banana
15 oz of Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin Pie puree (if you use regular canned pumpkin, you’d want to pump it up with some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice)
1 egg white
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
Generous splash of Amaretto
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Heat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl mash the banana with a fork. Add in all the other ingredients and mix well. Divide batter between 18 muffin tins either with cupcake liners or coated with nonstick spray. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Move to wire racks and let cool.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking, cream cheese frosting sure would be good on these, but first, I didn’t have any cream cheese in the fridge and second, back to that tiresome calorie thing again. I DID have some leftover ricotta though so inspired by thoughts of cannoli, I mixed the ricotta with a little bit of powdered sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of orange extract (next time I’d use the Amaretto here too to carry the flavor through). Then, I took a paring knife, cut a little cone out of the top of my cooled cupcakes (these little cones are perfect snackin’ size… just sayin’) and plopped in the filling.
As an option, I also tried putting some of this ricotta filling in before baking and it was good that way too. The flavors were a bit more mellow and the texture creamier. I had added the coconut into the recipe to help with the sweetness since I had cut the sugar in half from the original recipe, but another addition that I’ll try next time would be raisins or chopped figs.
Truth in advertising here – the original recipe makes 24 cupcakes and lists the calories at 100. I made mine larger (yielding 18) and with my modifications I ran some rough numbers and am thinking they are closer to 175 calories. But they were moist, delicious, hit the sweet spot and didn’t break the calorie bank. I’d say this experiment in baking was a winner and is bound to inspire further experiments in the future. Stay tuned!