Banana Split Cupcakes

My grandfather was known for his sweet tooth. He always had a delectable treat on hand and he wasn’t picky in his choices. That being said, we could always count on finding ice cream in his freezer.

My family lost our beloved grandfather, father, husband earlier this year. It is always hard to lose those we love, but knowing that he is at peace brings us comfort. Many of my memories with my grandfather include coming together with family in celebration – birthdays, holidays, etc. – with dessert included, of course. My mother shared a memory she had of him during his service: Growing up she always remembers him having popsicles on hand. Some of his favorites were the orange creamsicles, fudgsicles, and strawberry shortcakes. When she was old enough to drive, he would ask her to pick up some at the store. The average family might pick up two boxes, maybe three. No. He asked her to pick up eight at a time. To avoid any embarrassment – teenage anxiety is a real thing – my mom would drive to multiple convenience stores to pick up two to three boxes at a time so she didn’t have to face the clerk with a multitude of boxes. He never knew that my mother would go out of her way to get all of his ice cream treats.

To honor my grandfather in one of the best ways I know how, I decided to make a dessert in his memory. Remembering his love of ice cream, I tried to think of something in my repertoire that was a bit more than a bowl of ice cream. One of the most iconic ice cream dishes that came to mind was the Banana Split. The combination of flavors is classic – banana, chocolate, pineapple, strawberry, and of course the cherry on top.

This was a fun cupcake to make. I started with a banana cupcake filled with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache and pineapple compote. Topped with a strawberry buttercream, more chocolate ganache, walnuts, sprinkles, and a cherry – this cupcake looks like it was just picked up at the ice cream parlor. I think my grandfather would have been first in line to give it a try.

The memories we have of our loved ones that have passed before us are meant to be held close to the heart and cherished. Whether they bring a smile or tears, they help us to keep them close until we are reunited in some way. My grandfather was a man of many words and had the biggest heart. Family meant the world to him and he was at his happiest when he was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. I can hear him exclaiming his go-to phrase, “Oh boy!” as I present him with this cupcake. Love and miss you Papa Lembo, rest well.

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