Hummingbird cake is always a non-chocolate favorite. There are many recipes out there that are largely similar except in butter and oil content. Some leave out the coconut. I opted for Martha's because I generally find her recipes to work well. She called for dried pineapple "flowers" as a garnish but they were too fussy for me (although beautiful). Truth be told, I tried to make them and failed - they never dried out enough. See Martha Stewart for details. I experimented with a couple of other garnishes instead -- store-bought dried pineapple and pecans to suggest the ingredients in the batter and sweet peas and nasturtiums I found in the farmer's market to remind of hummingbirds (plus, don't they look sweet?).
For the cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes)
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 350°, with rack in center. Line cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in flour mixture.
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, 25 to 28 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with dried pineapple flowers, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
For the frosting (Makes 3 cups)
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
Note: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, June 2003