Banana splits were the kind of dessert that I dreamed about as a kid, though I rarely got the change to indulge myself in them. Over the years, I’ve had more than a few – and often count the banana portion towards my daily fruit/vegetable count – and I’ve put countless variations on the basic recipe. When I have banana splits, it’s usually at an ice cream parlor or soda fountain that specializes in making them. The bananas I have at home tend to be overripe and on their way to becoming banana bread – not ideal for making a banana split. These Banana Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes are inspired by a classic banana split, using overripe bananas to make banana cupcakes to serve as a base for a decadent ice cream dessert.
The cupcakes have a generous amount of banana in the batter and bake up to be moist, sturdy and flavorful. I resisted the urge to add cinnamon or other spices to the cupcakes so that the banana flavor would come through clearly. The cupcakes are so tasty that I’ve been known to eat one without frosting while I’m working on putting the rest of the dessert together.
Once you’ve baked off the cupcakes, you can start the fun of assembly. I topped my cupcakes with generous scoops of banana ice cream. Banana ice cream might sound like an unusual flavor, but you might be surprised that there are Ben and Jerry’s makes Banana Split, Chunky Money and Bob Marley’s One Love ice creams, all of which prominently feature banana ice cream and would work well here. I used One Love, which is a limited edition and a favorite of mine. While you can use other flavors, a banana-based ice cream really enhances the banana cupcakes.
I scoop the ice cream about an hour before I serve the cupcakes and place the scoops on a baking sheet or in a large baking dish, then transfer them to the freezer to firm up. This makes the scoops much neater and easier to handle. I also trim a little off the dome of the cupcakes before setting the scoops on top, just to ensure that nothing slides off the sides before you have a chance to dig in with a spoon!
The finishing touch on these cupcakes is a drizzle of hot fudge sauce and a cherry – because an ice cream sundae always comes with a cherry on top. The cupcakes can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer, but I prefer to keep the cupcakes at room temperature so that they are moist and tender when you go to eat your sundae. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and is ideal for any kind of party or special occasion. They’re easy to assemble and a lot of fun to serve!
Banana Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 cup mashed banana (approx 2 large/3 medium)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pints banana ice cream (such as chunky monkey)
approx 1 cup hot fudge sauce
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar.
In a medium bowl, stir together butter, egg, mashed banana, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add banana mixture to flour mixture and stir until batter is uniform. Divide evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Allow cupcakes to cool on wire rack before assembly.
Scoop ice cream into 1/4 cup scoops (approximately) and arrange scoops on a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Freeze for 1 hour, or until firm.
Trim the top of the dome off the cupcakes to create a flat spot for the ice cream to rest. Heat the hot fudge sauce in the microwave to warm it up.
Place one scoop of ice cream on top of each cupcake. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp hot fudge sauce. Garnish with a cherry.