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Chunky Monkey Cupcakes and My First Cake

Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing and a look back at my very first cake.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

Cupcakes to Cake

You guys know I am all about the cupcakes. Every week you guys watch me pull flavors together into bite-sized mouthfuls of joy and call them cupcakes. And being MsCupcakeasaurus, why wouldn’t I be?

Something you may not know is that I have been caking for almost eight years. By caking, I don’t just mean whipping a mix together and slathering icing over it.

The Art of Caking

Caking involves idea preparation by gathering source materials and analyzing size and shape to determine the best fit for the cake being prepared. It means drawing up plans and sketches and paying attention to all the little details. It means sculpting the cake like a statue emerging from marble. Caking is art after all.

 

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Over the years, I have not always taken pictures or written step by step tutorials or documented every step of the journey along the way. I make cakes because I enjoy caking. I enjoy bringing the food to art and the art to food.

Flavor combinations are my chemistry experiments and dimensional cakes are my masterpieces. I love playing with new techniques, new materials or ingredients. One of the reasons I enjoy caking so much is that it feels like an art form that I can continuously learn from. That, and they taste good.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

 Today, I will be sharing with you my very first ever caking endeavor.

You may have noticed that I have been caking for as long as I have been a mom. The very first cake I really put my heart and soul into was for Little Cakeasaurus Rex’s first birthday. When he isn’t busy being a dinosaur, he is busy being a monkey. We lovingly nicknamed him Monkey since he was a baby.

As any over zealous mom would be, I created a theme of monkeys and immediately started developing ideas for his main cake and his smash cake. He had blow-up monkeys to toss around, monkey plates and napkins and of course a monkey cake. He had a cake for his guests and he had a personal smash cake.

The Smash Cake

Every little kid needs a smash cake for their first birthday. It is the tradition! I love smash cakes for the little ones. That first birthday is all about seeing their little eyes bulge out of their heads with sugar. There is nothing like taking that first fistful of delicious cake.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

For the smash cake, I decided to go with a German chocolate cake and have the coconut frosting serve as the textured monkey fur. Admittedly, my skills at the time were limited and the monkey face looked more like a bear but Little Cakeasaurus Rex loved it. He had no problem figuring out what to do with his smash cake. Hands in the cake and then straight to the mouth.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

Little Chunky Monkey

I love watching little ones feed themselves at this age because they still fist their food and are practically licking their palms. Too cute!

I’ll remember next time that monkey ears should be more on the side of the face rather than on the top. Also, don’t mind the little yellow hair tuft I tried to create. Monkeys can be blonde too, right?

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

 

The Guest Cake

The cake for the guests was a large vanilla sheet cake with a large mound of banana cake on top. I was so inexperienced and had no clue what I was doing. I went totally overboard on measuring out how much cake I would need for a one-year-old’s birthday party. In true First Time Mom fashion, I made enough to feed everyone at the party, the park and halfway down the street.

To give you an idea, I had no clue how to even carry this large of a cake to a park two blocks from the house. I purchased a huge white plastic cutting board and that became my caking station. I still use this cutting board as my preferred surface for rolling fondant or cutting out biscuits.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

In all honesty, I baked two 9×12 inch cakes for the base. I slid them together and covered them with icing. If you are counting, that is a total of four standard cakes for one party. This was the first time I would bake that much cake for one party but it definitely wasn’t  the last.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

If you are wondering, it is no secret how I made the dome-shaped cake. I didn’t have a pan that shape that is for sure. I actually used a stainless steel mixing bowl and baked it right in the oven.

Obviously, be careful when using alternative baking pans but, the bowl worked out great and I still use it for other caking endeavors. I will remind you to take a good look at the shape of the bowl though. If you are wanting a hill shape like I was, you will want a shallower bowl to create a soft mound. However, I have also used a much deeper mixing bowl to create the Drunken Carolina Cake so that I had enough space for good sized cake layers.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

Monkey Time

The idea I was wanting to create was a mischievous monkey sitting atop a huge pile of bananas. The pile of bananas had to be made of banana cake of course. The banana cake wasn’t going to be enough though.

Nothing quite looks like a pile of bananas than a pile of bananas. After icing, I also completely covered the mound in Banana Rama candy pieces I purchased from a local candy shop.

Heap of Bananas birthday cakeOriginally, all the bananas were going to be yellow bananas but this is a very mischievous monkey and he needed some colored bananas too. The monkey was a purple monkey bath toy so it was super safe for the kiddo to enjoy long after his party was over.  A funky colored monkey totally deserves a pile of funky colored bananas.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

To add a bit more decoration without going overboard any further, I added Piroulines around the outside edge of the sheet cake which provided great bamboo. A few green leaves and blades of grass with green icing and I had my masterpiece.

Heap of Bananas birthday cake

Can you tell I was proud of myself? I made a little card label with a silly monkey sticker for good measure. I am so proud that this was my first caking adventure. It brings back wonderful memories of my little one’s first birthday and it was the start of a wonderful adventure I still pursue today.

Still A Monkey

The kiddo still embraces his monkey side by collecting cute monkeys we find on our adventures. Currently, we have one from Cape Canaveral and Tampa Zoo.  Just a few weeks ago, I offered my little monkey a special treat.

I treated LCR to Chunky Monkey Cupcakes!

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

These moist banana cupcakes remind me very much of that original banana cake but in smaller cupcake form.  Top that off with a peanut butter cream cheese icing and you will be making all the monkeys smile.

Even walking down memory lane, I couldn’t leave you hanging without a scrumptious cupcake recipe to keep you satisfied.

You have now seen where the caking magic started. Tell me about your baking start. Do you remember your first real baking endeavor as an adult? I clarified that sentence because I was baking and cooking tons growing up. This one just sticks out in my mind as the first cake I researched and planned and put my heart and love into making.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes

Do you have that one dish or cake that sparked your love for it? I’d love to hear all about it or better yet, see it.

Chunky Monkey Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Chunky Monkey Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Chunky Monkey cupcakes made of sweet banana cake topped with peanut butter cream cheese icing
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
15-20 minutes
Ingredients
Banana Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
Banana Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat bananas, eggs and sugar on medium high speed until forming a thick mash.
  3. Add vegetable oil to the banana mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Using a spatula, fold in vanilla extract. Spoon batter into cupcake tim filling cups 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Toothpick will come out clean when cupcakes are done. Cool on a cooling rack before icing.
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Icing
  1. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat softened cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add in half a cup of peanut butter and mix on medium speed until well bleneded.
  3. Add powdered sugar to cream cheese mixture a cup at a time mixing thoroughly between each addition.
  4. Add milk and vanilla extract and mix until well blended.
  5. *Taste it. Your icing can be more sweet or nutty depending on how much sugar or peanutbutter you add. I prefer a light and sweet flavor so I stuck with 2 cups powdered sugar and a 1/2 cup of peanutbutter. If you want a thicker peanut butter flavor, just add more peanut butter.*
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Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

These Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes are made of soft vanilla vegan white cake packed full of colorful sprinkles and topped with a vegan vanilla “buttercream” icing.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

In the News

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed this past week was a bit chaotic for me. Florida became the target of a nasty hurricane named Irma.

I was all set to share with you these cute little Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes when I had to start evacuation planning for me and my family. This was definitely not how I planned to spend my week.

At first, we weighed our options of evacuating to North Carolina or just waiting out the storm. Even though hurricanes give you time to prepare, they also have the ability to quickly change course.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

A Hard Decision

Each day that passed leading up to the hurricane left fewer and fewer resources behind. Stores were out of water, bread, batteries, plywood, almost everything. Gas stations were out of gas. Hotels were booked solid north of Tampa and on into Georgia and South Carolina.

Hurricane house

We made the hard decision to stay because I would rather be near home with the supplies I knew we already had than stranded with no gas and nowhere to go three hundred miles from home. This is not an easy choice to make for anyone. My only advice is that you do what you feel is right for you and your family to keep them safe.

My son and I, stayed with friends that live farther inland during the hurricane because our home is located in a flood zone and flooding looked to be likely. We evacuated but we did not evacuate far from home. I am so grateful to our friends for taking us in and making us feel so comfortable and welcome in their home. I will never be able to repay them for their kindness.

In the two years I have lived here, I had not yet had to deal with a hurricane scare. This was definitely a lesson to be learned and a memory I will never forget. However, I believe I passed a Floridian milestone and learned exactly how I react to stress.

Stress Baking

Is it any surprise that I stress bake? As Captain Cupcakeasaurus and I were making evacuation decisions, I got to work baking. I couldn’t control myself. My anxiety was through the roof and all I could think to do was to focus on the food.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

I baked a lasagna, two chicken broccoli casseroles, a flat of brownies, a chocolate poke sheet cake and thirty chicken burritos.

That was just the first day.

The next day I made homemade mustard basted chicken legs, sausage and date Brussel sprouts, cauliflower mash and two batches of chocolate cake box cookies.

I was frenzy baking y’all!

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

I was frenzy baking y'all! Click To Tweet

Free Baking Conversion Cheat Sheet

First Responders

Thankfully, all of the food was put to a good use and sent off to the Fire Station for those hard working firefighters. Captain Cupcakeasaurus went into work with the instructions that he would be working for a minimum of seventy-two hours. Not only were we weathering a hurricane, but we were weathering it apart.

Fire Station

Our community came together to look after each other. I have to praise all of our first responders, police and even the linemen (Is linepeople the gender neutral term for that?) that were working during and immediately after the storm to help those in need and get everyone back in their homes and their power back on.

I am very thankful that the storm died down significantly by the time it crossed our home so damage was minimal. We only had two trees down in the yard and no flooding. Things could have been SO MUCH worse.

Hurricane Trees

Back to the Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

Originally, I was creating this custom cupcake flavor for an artist friend who also happens to be Vegan. I wanted to create a colorful and fun cupcake reminiscent of her artwork and photography.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

Once the news of the upcoming storm hit, these cuties were specifically made to brighten my day. After seeing the colorful swirls of Hurricane Irma across the weather map, I felt like colorful sprinkles might be a fun way to bring back a little cheer.

Something about those rainbow colored sprinkles always puts a smile on my face.You can purchase your own bag of colorful Vegan Funfetti here.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

Confessions

In all honesty, this was not my first batch of Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes. But as you know, I refuse to share with you a recipe that is not rightly approved by my kitchen first.

The first time, I made these cupcakes, they were a disaster. I had filled my cupcake tins three-quarters full as I often do. The cupcakes rose so much they expanded over the top of my tins and created sugar cookie like discs over the top of my cupcakes!

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

I tweaked the recipe to better balance the wet and dry ingredients to hopefully reduce so much expansion and I made sure not to overfill my cupcake tins. There you go. My error is your reward. Just make sure to only put a Tablespoon of batter in each cupcake tin and you will have beautiful level cupcakes.

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes

 

I Want To Know

After this experience with Irma, I have a greater empathy for those who have been at the mercy of Mother Nature. Have you ever experienced a natural disaster in your area? How did it affect you or change your perspective? Do you have any tips or tricks to prepare for such a disaster?

I want to know about you. Comment down below or you are always welcome to send me a personal email if you’d prefer.

Sharing our experiences and coming together is how we make life taste sweeter.

 

Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Soft vanilla vegan white cake packed full of colorful sprinkles and topped with a vegan vanilla "buttercream" icing.
Servings Prep Time
18 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20-25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
18 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20-25 minutes
Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Soft vanilla vegan white cake packed full of colorful sprinkles and topped with a vegan vanilla "buttercream" icing.
Servings Prep Time
18 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20-25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
18 cupcakes 10 minutes
Cook Time
20-25 minutes
Ingredients
Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
Vegan Vanilla "Buttercream" Icing
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place liners in a cupcake tin.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar to the cup of almond milk, stir and set to the side.
  3. In a large bowl, use electgric mixer on medium high speed to cream coconut spread and sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl combine and whisk dry ingredients of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix thoroughly.
  6. Add half of the almond milk to the sugar mixture and mix thoroughly.
  7. Alternate additions of almond milk and dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Finish with the last third of the flour mixture.
  8. Add vanilla and mix with a spatula.
  9. With spatula, fold in the rainbow sprinkles.
  10. Place a Tablespoon of batter in each lined cupcake tin. The batter rises significantly and any more than a Tablespoon will result in overflow during baking.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted will come out clean when done.
Vegan Vanilla "Buttercream" Icing
  1. In a large bowl using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat coconut spread until smooth.
  2. Add in sifted powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.
  3. Add in vanilla extract and mix until well blended.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use or if a firmer consitency is desired.
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