Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Since I have embraced summer in January this week, inspired by the S’more Nut Bars, I thought I would follow up with these banana cupcakes. As I have mentioned pretty much every single time I make a cupcake recipe, I am a huge, huge, HUGE frosting fan. Adore frosting. Eat it by the spoonful when I make it (shhh!). Given my infatuation with it, I was immediately intrigued when I came across this recipe for cupcakes that did NOT have frosting on them. No frosting, but instead, pastry cream. Simply genius. Pure genius. I might love pastry cream just about as much as frosting.

This combination really is one of the freshest takes I’ve found on cupcakes in quite some time. The pastry cream is such a natural pairing with the banana flavor and it keeps the whole thing feeling light and not weighed down by frosting. Eating the cupcake is actually quite reminiscent of a banana cream pie. Only without the fuss of pie crust!

The book gives a few different options for topping these babies – piping the pastry cream with a decorating bag and tip, using an ice cream or cookie scoop to drop a dollop on top, or using a spatula to slather the cupcakes with the cream. Although I have pastry bags and tips, I really liked the idea of the scoop on top and that’s what I did. Feel free to be creative and decorate at will!

And then dig in :)

Three years ago: Perfection Pound Cake

Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


For the Banana Cupcakes:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1¾ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1½ cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
½ cup buttermilk

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream:
3 cups half-and-half
6 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To Make the Banana Cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the eggs, and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl again and add the bananas. Beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

4. Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and place them on the rack to cool completely.

To Make the Vanilla Pastry Cream:

1. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the half-and-half to a simmer and keep warm.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together until the mixture is pale, about 1 minute. Whisk half of the warm half-and-half into the egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture into the remaining half-and-half in the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through the sieve and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until chilled.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:
If you have a pastry bag, fit the bag with a large tip, fill the bag with the pastry cream, and pipe out enough pastry cream to cover each cupcake.

If you do not have a pastry bag, use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop the pastry cream and dispense it onto the top of the cupcake.

You can also use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes. Top with a single slice of fresh banana or a dried banana chip.

To Serve: You can either top these with the pastry cream and refrigerate until ready to serve; or keep the cupcakes at room temperature and top with the pastry cream right before serving.

(Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)


152 Responses to “Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Pastry Cream”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. A little bit of everything on January 21, 2011 at 1:10 am

    as a big fan of banana bread I have to bookmark this recipe. it sounds and looks divine.
    one question tho, Michelle, can I increase the amount of butter? I try to avoid as much as possible shortening or margarine.


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      You could sub butter for the shortening, but there may be a difference in texture.


      • anne on February 9th, 2014 at 2:42 am

        hi there brown eyed baker..what do you mean by 3 cups of half-and-half?What is half-and-half actually?


        • Michelle on February 9th, 2014 at 11:22 am

          Hi Anne, Half and Half is a product sold here in the U.S.; it’s essentially a combination of ½ heavy cream and ½ whole milk.


  2. Blog is the New Black on January 21, 2011 at 5:42 am

    I’m with you- frosting all the way. These sound great!


  3. Katrina on January 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

    I have bananas AND an excuse to make cupcakes. Life is good.


  4. Lauren at KeepItSweet on January 21, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I am not the biggest lover of pastry cream (generally would prefer icing), but this sounds like an interesting twist. And, definitely a great play on banana cream pie!


  5. Estela @ Weekly Bite on January 21, 2011 at 6:44 am

    This looks incredible!! One of my dear friends LOVES banana cupcakes. I must make these for her :)


  6. jenna laughs on January 21, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Brilliant! I love the addition of pastry cream.


  7. The Food Hound on January 21, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Just came across your site, and I have just about every recipe tagged to print!! You make such delicious goodies :) I love baking, too, and it’s my resolution this year to do more of it (twice a month, to be exact!). I’ve made pastry cream before and it’s delicious– it seems like it will be amazing with these cupcakes! I’m also TOTALLY loving your s’mores bars below! New follower!!


  8. Krissy @ Make It Naked on January 21, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Fantastic idea. These look amazing. Thanks for sharing!


  9. Vanessa on January 21, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Oh my goodness. These look out-of-this-world!!!!! You can’t really go wrong with a cupcake that tastes like a banana cream pie. Seriously….


  10. Michelle on January 21, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I was just flipping through that book last night and stop and marked this page to put on my must try list!! I love the Baked Boys! Even treked through Redhook Brooklynn to go to the bakery.


  11. jaclyn@todayslady on January 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Wow wow wow! Pastry cream on cupcakes is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard!! I’m a frosting gal too but pastry cream and me get along well to :) I love that you described them as being reminiscent to banana cream pie, YUM!


  12. Sherry on January 21, 2011 at 8:42 am

    The last picture with the fork is awesome! I am a HUGE frosting fan too! But pastry cream, well that just takes it to a whole other amazing level. This is genius!


  13. Justeen @ Blissful Baking on January 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Ohh pastry cream!! I could eat bowlfuls of it! What a fantastic topping for cupcakes. I will definitely be eating a whole batch of these by myself in the near future!!


  14. Laura @ Family Spice on January 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I’m still a kid at heart and I LOVE good frosting! YUM!


  15. Delishhh on January 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Always looking for OTHER banana recipes, this is perfect! I think i am tired of banana bread. Nice recipe.


  16. Tiffany @ Conor & Bella on January 21, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Ooo, these sound amazing!


  17. Emily on January 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Uh, WOW. These look amazing!


  18. CantStopBaking on January 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

    This really is brilliant. Its almost like banana cream pie in a cupcake! so cool!


  19. Robyn on January 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    someone’s baking their way through new frontiers in baking this week! if i remember correctly, this is one of the recipes in the book that doesn’t have a picture – so thanks for providing a visual.

    does the pastry cream stay fairly soft after chilling, or does it firm up nicely?


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      It firms up after chilling, but once you to the cupcakes with it you’ll want to eat it relatively soon, otherwise pop them in the fridge so the pastry cream doesn’t start to warm up and slide off.


  20. Eftychia on January 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    It looks delicious.
    I have an easier recipe to share with you. Propably you will see it in one of my future posts :-)


  21. Greedy Guts on January 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    How are you not the size of a house?! If I spent as much time baking as you do, I’d be HUUUUUGE! It would just be too tempting to have all these yummies in the house. Do you eat them all or give them away?


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Haha! I definitely do not eat them all. I share with family and friends, many times will only make a 1/2 batch of a recipe, and/or freeze leftovers of things like cookies, brownies, cheesecake, etc.


  22. Vicki @ Wilde in the Kitchen on January 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    These sound yummy! Do you have to wait until you serve the cupcakes before topping with cream? Or do they hold up well all prepared?


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      I would top the cupcakes immediately before serving. Or, top them and then refrigerate if you won’t be serving within about 10 to 15 minutes.


  23. Mollie on January 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    They look delicious, but I’m wondering if they store very well? Or do you just dollop on the pastry cream right before eating?


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Mollie – I would keep the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature and the pastry cream chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, then dollop on the pastry cream right before serving.


  24. Evan Thomas on January 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Great recipe! The pastry creme sounds so rich and delicious.


  25. Lindsay on January 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Unlike you, I’m actually not a fan of frosting; pastry cream on the other hand, I love! This is a fabulous idea, I can’t wait to try these cupcakes. Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  26. Steph@stephsbitebybite on January 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Your killing me with these! I want to pluck one off the screen and eat it!! The pastry cream sounds so much better than frosting


  27. Lauren from Lauren's Latest on January 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Yum yum yum! I must make these pronto!


  28. Laura on January 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Pstry cream must be in the air. I’ve been concocting a recipe for whoopie pies filled with carmel pastry cream and glazed with a caramel ganache. :)


  29. Prerna@IndianSimmer on January 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Wow, I’ve never tasted vanilla pastry cream! The recipe sounds delightful and I’m sure will taste good with the banana flavor. Thanks for sharing!


  30. Sharlene on January 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Pastry cream atop a cupcake! Such an innovative idea. I’m always looking for a new way to make frosting so I’ll definitely be trying these out.


  31. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on January 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    These look totally decadent and delicious! I love the pastry cream on top and the little banana garnish. You are so creative!


  32. Felice on January 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    These look wonderful. I just love your website. Not only do you have great recipes, but your photography is always beautiful and inspiring.


  33. Kim - Liv Life on January 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    OOhhh!!! My daughter will love everything about these!! She has loved bananas ever since that first taste out of the baby food jar and has loved everything banana ever since. I’m not much of a cupcake or cake fan, but for her, I’m thinking we need to make these. I think I’ll surprise her after her dance rehearsal tomorrow. Love ’em!


  34. Tiffany on January 22, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Not only do I love bananas AND pastry cream, but I love banana pudding. I would be ALL OVER these cupcakes!


  35. CaSaundra on January 22, 2011 at 8:51 am

    You had me at bananas and sealed the deal at cupcakes! I am a huge cupcakeaholic! These sound great..I’ve never had a cupcake without a typical frosting, so I’d love to give this pastry cream a shot!


  36. Sommer J on January 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

    These are perfection! I am bookmarking these for future use. Looking to use a lot of your cupcake recipes.


  37. michelle on January 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Ooh boy I will be trying these soon! Maybe I’ll try baking them with a nila wafer on the bottom. yumm!! thanks for sharing. :)


  38. carri on January 22, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’ve never had pastry cream, but I’m seeing it everywhere. What’s the best thing to make with it so that I can try it when I can eat dairy again?


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      A spoon? 😉 Seriously though, pastry cream is sooooo good! You could make these cupcakes, Boston cream pie, eclairs… the possibilities are endless!


  39. Becky on January 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I love banana bread, so I’ll have to try the banana cupcakes. The pastry cream goes well with those cupcakes. Thanks for sharing.


  40. Cakewalker on January 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I have a frosting fancy too and your generous mound of pastry cream has me in the clouds! Thank you for sharing.


  41. Dee Dee's Delights on January 22, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Oh my does this look yummy, I want one now!


  42. Jeanette on January 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Hi I am from New Zealand can someone tell me what half and half is? thanks


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Hi Jeanette, Half-and-half is literally a mixture of half whole milk and half heavy cream.


  43. Mateja on January 22, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Just wonderful! Wouldn’t mind to have some right now to keep me company while browsing through all the delicious recipes on FoodBuzz :)


  44. Jenn@eatcakefordinner on January 23, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Wow, oh man, these sound crazy good. I have never had pastry cream, but with a name like that it must be delicious.


  45. Esther on January 23, 2011 at 9:20 am

    The banana looks so attractive. why you just put one piece? So sweet, it will be my everyday dessert if you put some more bananas and less cream ^^


  46. Sarah-Jane on January 23, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Lovley cupcakes and will be incredibly moist and light coupled with the pastry cream. Mmmmm

    now I know what to do next time I have a glut of eggs and over-ripe bananas !

    Congrats on Foodbuss top 9 (yet again). Your photos are always fab :-)



  47. Leslie on January 23, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Pastry cream On a cupcake??? Have I died and gone to heaven??? How amazing


  48. Sarah, Maison Cupcake on January 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I love the domed tops on these, they’re almost like scoops of ice cream. Great idea for bananas.


  49. on January 23, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Do these taste like banana pudding with vanilla wafers? (fingers crossed) =)


    • Michelle on February 15th, 2011 at 9:12 pm

      Yeah they kinda do!


  50. Cate on January 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    These look great! I can’t wait to try them!


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