I have been hearing about hummingbird cake for a couple years now, (I love the name) so I finally decided to give it a try this weekend. It is an old fashioned southern cake believed to have Jamaican roots. The cake is similar to banana bread but has a hint of pineapple, pecans, coconut, cinnamon and of course, a super rich cream cheese frosting. It is a delicious little cupcake!

Adapted from Martha Stewart and Joy of Baking
Makes 32 cupcakes

1 cup  pecans, toasted and finely chopped
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3-4 medium sized bananas)
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter (57 grams), room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese (227 grams), room temperature
1 pound (454 grams) (about 3 2/3 cups) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish: (optional)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut, toasted
32 pecan halves, toasted
Dried pineapple flowers (recipe follows)

Toast the Pecans:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center of oven.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.
Let cool and then chop finely.
Make the Cupcakes:
Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.

Lightly beat the eggs in a small cup...
In a large bowl, mash the bananas...
add oil, eggs, vanilla extract, pineapple and finely chopped pecans. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, approx 22 to 25 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of your mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese (make sure they are room temperature), on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Frost the Cupcakes:

Once cupcakes have cooled, frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with dried pineapple flowers (recipe below), or toasted coconut flakes (toast in 350 degree oven for 6 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently) or pecan halves if desired. Serve cupcakes at room temperature.

Make the Dried Pineapple Flowers:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.
Cut sides and top of pineapple off. Take a pairing knife or a small melon baller, remove and discard pineapple "eyes" (the dark sharp pieces on the sides of the pineapple.

Using a sharp knife, cut pineapple crosswise into very thin slices, almost translucent. I had a dull knife so mine were not thin enough.
 Transfer slices to baking sheets.
 Bake until tops look dried, about 30 minutes. Flip slices; bake until completely dried, 25 to 30 minutes more. Note: I baked mine for 3 hours and they were still not dried, I guess I didn't slice them thin enough.
 Pinch center of each pineapple slice to shape into a cone, and let cool in a muffin tin to form flowers.
Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.
The pineapple flowers make a dramatic cupcake topper...
 All packaged up and ready to be delivered...


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