Hummingbird Cupcakes Offer Up A Dose of Southern Comfort

Hummingbird cupcakes. The name alone makes one think of romanticized images of days gone by in the Deep South: blue ribbons at county fairs, lazy afternoons drinking sweet tea on porch swings, a cloth-covered basket of goodies dropped off at a neighbor’s house. And what’s not to love about this dessert? It’s got everything delicious going for it—ripe bananas, pineapple, coconut and cinnamon—topped with a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting.

“Hummingbird cake is a traditional Southern cake filled with ripe bananas, coconut and pineapple. Some say it earned this name because the sweet cake would attract hummingbirds if you left it on a windowsill to cool. And some say it’s because you can’t help but make a yummy humming sound when you eat it,” writes Jennifer Shea, founder of Trophy Cupcakes, in her fantastic new book,Trophy Cupcakes and Parties!: Deliciously Fun Party Ideas and Recipes from Seattle’s Prize-Winning Cupcake Bakery.

We think it’s not only the ultimate cupcake for all the upcoming spring events—Easter, Mother’s Day, baby showers, garden parties and brunches—but it lends itself well to summer entertaining, too. So go ahead and enjoy this recipe for many months to come!

Hummingbird Cupcakes
(Makes 2 dozen cupcakes)

3 cups all-purpose flour
13⁄4 teaspoons baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 3⁄4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1⁄2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
3⁄4 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 1⁄2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. Combine the eggs, oil, and vanilla and coconut extracts in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat them at low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and mix to blend. Add the bananas, pineapple, and coconut, and mix on low speed to break up the bananas. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to incorporate, then increase the speed to medium and beat just until combined.
4. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full, and bake until the tops of the cupcakes are firm and golden, and a cake tester inserted in the center of a middle cupcake comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool for 5 minutes in the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Buttercream
(Makes 6 cups)
24 ounces (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1⁄2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese. Start with the mixer at the lowest speed, then gradually increase the speed, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl as needed, until the cheese is perfectly smooth and creamy. Scrape the cream cheese into a small bowl and set aside.
2. Next, cream the butter. Start with the mixer at the lowest speed, then gradually increase the speed, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl as needed, until the butter is light in color, perfectly smooth, and makes a slapping sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. If the butter is soft, this should only take 30 seconds, but if the butter is cool, it can take a couple of minutes.
3. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix at the lowest speed until it’s fully incorporated before adding the next cup. When all the sugar has been added, scrape the paddle and the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat it at low speed for 15 seconds. Increase the speed to as high as you can without making a mess and whip the butter- cream until the mixture is perfectly smooth, creamy, and light, about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl and paddle, then continue beating. At first the buttercream will appear to soften, then it will stiffen and increase in volume.
4. Scrape the bowl and paddle again, then add the whipped cream cheese. Beat the mixture at the lowest speed for 30 seconds to combine, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds to lighten the buttercream.
5. Use right away, or store in an airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, let the buttercream come to room temperature, then put it back in the stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to beat it until it’s creamy and stiff again.
6. Place the buttercream in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (Ateco #809) to pipe a low swirl on each cupcake.