I took a poll on my instagram stories a few weeks ago about which recipe to share from my cookbook next: Hummingbird Cupcakes or a Key Lime Coconut Frozen Cheesecake. It looked like the cheesecake was going to win, but the cupcakes swooped in and made a come back! I feel like the pineapple flowers really sold them.
So here they are in all their delicious, flavor-packed glory. Hummingbird Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting.
Hummingbird cake is an absolute *Southern Classic* and I put a fun little twist on it for the cookbook: browned butter. (!!!!) Instantly makes everything better.
The cake itself is reminiscent of banana bread, so we’re already off to a good start there. It’s also flavored with crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, and some ground cinnamon. It is perhaps one of the best smells of all time. I think I’ve written that exact sentence before on this blog. But it’s so good. My mom walked in while I was standing at the kitchen table frosting the cupcakes and immediately exclaimed, “What smells so good in here!” So it’s not just me.
Browned butter pairs wonderfully with the flavors in this cake. It’s warm and cozy and nutty and perfect. The one big difference between this recipe and the one in my cookbook is that this one right here has cream cheese. In the book it’s just regular Browned Butter Frosting, which is definitely a good way to go if you don’t have any cream cheese on hand. But this time I wanted to try sticking with hummingbird cake’s classic pairing with cream cheese frosting, except you know, with a little bit of a twist on it still.
Also cream cheese frosting is like my favorite frosting in the universe and adding browned butter to it sounded too good to not try.
Some things to note!
Pineapple flowers: This recipe calls for two pineapples, but if you cut the slices thin enough, you probably only need one. Also definitely go with fresh! It’s easier to cut the peeling from the pineapple than you might think. I’ve never tried making pineapple flowers with canned sliced pineapples, but I imagine they’re way too thick. Something else to note about actually drying the pineapple slices in the oven—some may be ready before others. So just keep an eye on them towards the end. You may need to remove some if they’re ready sooner than others, and then return the sheet pan to the oven to continue drying.
Frosting: If you don’t want to use cream cheese here, you can replace it with a cup of vegetable shortening.
Make ahead: You can make the pineapple flowers and browned butter in advance! The pineapple flowers need some time to sit and firm up after they come out of the oven anyway, so it’s best to do this the day before. The browned butter needs to turn back into a solid before creaming into the frosting, so it can sit covered in the refrigerator over night. Just remember to let it come back to room temp before using.
Storage: If you go the cream cheese route, store cupcakes covered in the refrigerator. If you’re using vegetable shortening, they’re fine covered at room temperature.
Hummingbird Cupcakes with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Dried Pineapple Flowers
- 2 pineapples
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large, ripe bananas)
- 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple in juice drained
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup milk
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 8-oz block cream cheese
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp heavy cream or milk
- To make the dried pineapple flowers, preheat oven to 225°F. Cut top and bottom from each pineapple. Peel pineapples and use a melon baller to remove any eyes/seeds remaining in the flesh. Thinly slice pineapple using a sharp knife or mandolin. Lay the slices on a couple sheets of paper towels and press with more paper towels to soak up as much of the liquid as possible. Arrange slices on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes. Flip slices over and bake 30 more minutes. Repeat this process two or more times, depending on how thick your slices are. The slices should shrink slightly, be dry to the touch, and turn golden brown around the edges. If not, continue baking in 5-10 minute increments until dry, removing slices are they are ready. Immediately lay pineapple slices in muffin pans so that the petals will curve upwards like a flower. Let pineapple flowers dry and firm up (covered) overnight.
- To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F and line two muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, combine banana, crushed pineapple, sugar, vanilla, and oil. Mix on medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until mostly combined, and then medium speed until completely combined. Fold in pecans. Spoon cake batter into paper liners, filling each about 3/4th full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and centers have set. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5-10 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, place butter in a small light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter, swirling the pot occasionally. Bring to a simmer and let cook until butter begins to turn amber and smells nutty. Browned bits of butter should be visible in the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and cool completely. Transfer to refrigerator until firm. (This process can be done a day or two in advance. Store browned butter covered in the refrigerator.)
- Beat (room temperature) browned butter on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add cream cheese and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla, half of powdered sugar, and one tablespoon of cream. Mix on low speed until mostly combined, then medium-high speed until completely combined. Repeat with second half of powdered sugar and remaining tablespoon of cream.
- Pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with pineapple flowers and additional chopped pecans if desired.
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