These little cupcakes are very good on their own – soft, light and moist, with tiny specs of grated chocolate, but simply outstanding when frosted with this super-creamy honey cream cheese frosting. What makes the frosting so special is the absence of icing sugar. Instead, I’m using raw muscovado (light brown sugar can be substituted, if the muscovado is unavailable) and honey to sweeten the frosting. The end result is the clean-tasted and truly luscious frosting, without cornstarchy powdery texture that I dislike in any icing sugar-based fillings.

Makes 3 and a half dozen mini-cupcakes (I noticed, my mini-molds are deeper (Calphalon’s) than most molds by other brands, so it could be easily 4 dozen)

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (very finely ground whole wheat flour; if unavailable, use all-purpose flour)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup banana puree, mashed with a fork (about 2 large or 3 small overripe bananas)
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely grated

For the frosting (the amount listed should be sufficient to frost 3 ½ to 4 dozen mini cupcakes):

  • 9 tbsp (1 stick + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp packed muscovado sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 scant tsp pure vanilla extract

Make the cupcakes:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Fit parchment mini-cupcake liners into mini-cupcake molds.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the banana puree, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few seconds, until creamy. Gradually add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the honey and continue mixing for another 2 or 3 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the banana mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Scrape the bowl as necessary, and beat only enough to incorporate the ingredients after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the grated chocolate just until combined.

Transfer the cake batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe the batter into the prepared molds filling them about ¾-full. This is the easiest way to equally divide the batter between so many mini-muffin molds. Although you can also use a spoon.

Bake the cupcakes for about 18 to 20 minutes, until puffed and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, then unmold and cool completely on the rack before frosting.

Make the frosting:

In a small bowl, using electric beaters, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

In another bowl, using the same beaters (no need to wash them) beat the cream cheese with the muscovado sugar until light, creamy, and completely lump-free. Beat in the honey and vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the creamed butter just until the ingredients are combined, should take less than a minute. Transfer the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a rosette over the top of each cupcake. Refrigerate to firm up the frosting a bit, for about 20 minutes or so.

The cupcakes can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge 30 minutes prior the serving time.