There's a difference between a banana cupcake and a banana muffin.
That's one of the things I learned from a cupcake class I took at Butter Lane, a cupcake bakery near my home in the East Village.
Butter Lane is famous for having three types of cupcakes (chocolate, vanilla, and banana), which you can mix and match with their bewildering array of frostings. In the course I took, I learned to make all three base cupcakes, as well as a few frostings to go with them.
All the cupcakes are quite good (though I will say that I still find Sugar Sweet Sunshine to be the best cupcake in NYC), however, their banana cupcake is something special.
The secret to the recipe, as my instructor told me, is to puree the bananas until they're as smooth as cream, with an immersion blender if you have one. You don't want chunks of banana, as you might in a coarser banana bread or muffin. This is cupcake time.
The rest is pretty straightforward. Make sure to use a good quality buttermilk. If you're in New York, Saxelby Cheesemongers in the Essex Street Market carries the best I've tried.
Banana Cupcakes from Butter Lane
(adapted from a version published in Glamour Magazine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature (Leave it out for an hour, but not much more. You don't want your butter to turn into mush.)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups pureed bananas (about 3 bananas)
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add eggs one by one, just until incorporated, then add vanilla. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a bowl, then add alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in the banana puree. Line two cupcake tins (with 12 cups) with cupcake liners. Fill each 2/3 full. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate, then bake an additional 8-10 minutes.
Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.
Makes about 2 dozen.