Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Swahili Kitchen- Plantain Cup Cakes

After a long day, and feeling like I cannot cook another dish...I had a package waiting for me on the front step, and got another was wrapped in plain brown paper wrapping (yeah! someone recycled). I thought it was a cookbook I had been waiting for, but it was a complete and total surprise!

My hubby's middle brother, John, who is a doctor, and works for the World Health Organization has the opportunity to travel the world speaking about disease and finding new cures. He speaks so many languages, he says not that well, but I love to pick his brain about what he eats when he visits different countries. I also asked him if he ever finds unique cookbooks that I could not get here in the states, please pick one up. I like the books full of history and rich in culture, with lots of recipes to try...and once again he came through...Thank you John, you are wonderful!

The book and the fact that I also had a 'Cup Cake Challenge' thrown my way by Mistress of Cakes...I decided to 'fuse' the and there I say I am not the pastry chef, but in a pinch I can throw something together!

Seeing the word plantain in many of the chapters...I had just purchased some imported chocolate nibs...had some ripen plantains in the freezer waiting to be used (yes you can freeze them), and decided to whip up a batch of cupcakes just for the book, Mistress, and the fact I wanted chocolate to ease my long day!

Plantains grow in abundance all over the Swahili Coast; they tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content than dessert bananas. Bananas are most often eaten raw, while plantains usually require cooking or other processing, and are used either when green or under-ripe (and therefore starchy) or overripe (and therefore sweet).

I let the finger-sized bunches sit out on the counter for quite a few days until they turn black (over ripe) and place them in an airtight freezer bag, and place in freezer for no longer than three months if not used.

Plantain Cakes (I transform a basic Brownie Recipe)

1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup canola oil
A dash of cardamom
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar (raw turbuno)
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached 50/50 flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (or chocolate pieces)
1 mashed plantain (you may substitute regular banana)

Melt butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. No more than 40 or so strokes...

Pour into a greased 8 inch square pan, or as I have into cupcake wrappers. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes.