Mocha Monkey Cupcakes

I don’t often toot my own horn, but I must say, quite frankly, these cupcakes are THE BOMB.

I recently started following a blog called The Cupcake Project, which is written by a very creative woman who makes cupcakes out of everything but the kitchen sink (though I wouldn’t be surprised if that was next). She announced an annual contest for ice cream cupcakes in conjunction with Scoopalicious with the grand prize winner receiving a $250 gift card to a kitchen supply store of his or her choosing. Once I realized how simple it was to make “ice cream cupcakes” (i.e. cupcakes with ice cream on top…um, delicious), the little cupcakes in my head started spinning with ideas. After numerous Venn diagrams, spreadsheets, and web diagrams, I decided to mimic my favorite frozen treat in the world, the Mocha Monkey.

Unless you live in Quincy or Braintree, MA, you may not know exactly what I’m referring to though I’m certain plenty of other variations exist across the planet. The Mocha Monkey is a frozen coffee drink that has very little coffee but plenty of mocha, bananas, and peanut butter in it. It’s literally everything I love about dessert masked with the term “coffee”, which naturally makes me want it for breakfast. Unfortunately, I’m not one of the lucky ones who lives in Quincy or Braintree, MA, so the only time I get my precious Mocha Monkey is when I visit my very lovely jewelry-making, nature-loving, dog-mom friend Lauren, which is far too infrequently.

So I thought what better treat to come up with than an at-home cupcake version of the Mocha Monkey? If you enjoy banana bread, peanut butter, chocolate, or caramel macchiatos, you’re in for a treat.

Mocha Monkey Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 16 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

How to Do It

  1. Line two muffin pans with liners, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the mashed bananas, egg yolks, and vanilla, and beat the mixture again until blended and creamy. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Using the whisk attachment or a handheld electric mixer, whip the egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form, 8-10 minutes. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the banana mixture.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until blended. Fold the remaining 2/3 of egg whites gently into the mix.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, and bake the cupcakes for 20 minutes, rotating the pan once at the halfway point. Remove the pan from the oven, and let them cool slightly in the pans. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

For the Ganache

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz semi-sweet baker’s chocolate, chopped

How to Do It

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a glass or stainless steel mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to boil, and remove it from the heat. Pour the cream immediately over the chopped chocolate, and let the mixture sit for 3-4 minutes. Whip with a whisk until the chocolate is fully melted, and the mixture resembles chocolate sauce.
  3. Refrigerate to cool while making the buttercream and allowing the cupcakes to cool.

For the Buttercream

Stuff You’ll Need

  • 1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp creamy natural peanut butter (not an extra sweet kind)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted

How to Do It

  1. Cream the butter with a paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter, and whip again with the paddle attachment until blended. Add salt and vanilla, and whip again. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and switch to the whip attachment.
  2. Add one cup of confectioner’s sugar, and whip at low speed to blend the sugar. Increase the speed as the sugar incorporates into the peanut butter mixture. Add the second cup of sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mix is slightly stiff but fully blended.

For the Ice Cream Topping

  • Two pints of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato ice cream or another rich coffee flavor

Putting it All Together

Here comes the fun part. Well, really, the fun part is eating the cupcake, but it can be pretty fun making it too. After I made the different components, I used a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip to pipe clumps of the peanut butter buttercream on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and I put the pan in the freezer while I worked on the other items. Next, when the cupcakes were completely cooled, I dipped the tops of each of them in the chocolate ganache, and stuck them in the freezer so the ganache would harden slightly. I then poured myself a glass of delicious Rose wine, and took the ice cream out to soften. Once it was soft enough to work with, I used a large pastry bag fitted with a large cake icer and piped the ice cream (the best I could) over the chocolate-topped cupcakes. I used a sharp knife to cut slices of the ice cream from the icing tip, and finally, I placed the peanut butter rosettes on top of the ice cream.

Though it’s tricky to eat, this cupcake is on par with Heaven. I’m actually getting hungry thinking of one right now…

Wish me luck for my contest entry, and I’ll post a link to vote as soon as it goes up!


  1. What a splendid recipe, thanks so much for sharing

  2. Wow, these cupcakes look incredible – great flavors! I love peanut butter and banana together. 🙂

    • Thanks for the compliments! The flavors are really great together, and that peanut butter icing is to die for! It could even go great on vanilla cupcakes with sliced bananas on top. Oh, and love your kitty picture!

  3. Toot your own horn! These look amazing! Don’t like coffee (but it sounds like I’ll be making a trip to Braintree or Quincy one of these days for the original Mocha Monkey — sounds perfect for me) and I like how I can still make these cupcakes if I replace the coffee ice cream with another flavor (though I am sure anyone who likes coffee would LOVE these as they are!). Thanks for entering! Best of luck!


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