Sometimes the best laid plans simply don't work out. Today's post was supposed to be this well planned out apple dessert, but the dessert gods weren't in agreement and I decided to switch gears yesterday. Looking for inspiration in my kitchen my eyes caught four very ugly looking bananas sitting on the counter. Now you all know the story, sometimes you can't buy them fast enough and then there are times when no one touches them at all. I actually think there is some kind of conspiracy going on in my house. I wouldn't be surprised if my family made a pact to let bananas go bad every once in a while just so I can come up with a dessert.
I knew I didn't want to make a cake or banana bread, so I went to one of my most used cookbooks, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes for inspiration. While a couple of them sounded pretty good, none of them struck a chord, so I just took one of Martha's recipes and fiddled with it until I had what I thought was a pretty darn good cupcake. I used her Banana Pecan cupcake recipe as my starting point, but not being in a nut kind of mood I started thinking of things I could replace them with. Looking through my pantry it struck me, butterscotch chips and bananas = match made in heaven. For the frosting, I stuck with the suggested caramel buttercream, I mean why mess with a good thing, right?
Before I started baking, I scaled the recipe down to half. With so many treats being baked lately I knew I didn't need 30 cupcakes hanging around. The original cupcake batter called for light brown sugar, which I realized I was out of after I had started putting things together. Well, dark brown sugar it was and that turned out to be a great decision. The batter is made quickly and goes into the oven in no time, where it will make your house smell out of this world while baking. After cooling the cupcakes, they are frosted with the most delicious buttercream known to man (fair warning here, for all of you spoon frosting eaters). And finally (since we didn't have enough decadence yet) I drizzled the finished frosted cupcakes with even more caramel.
Good lord, I might have had to take a cold shower after eating one of them. I usually prefer chocolate over all things caramel, but these cupcakes gave chocolate a run for their money. Pure bliss! These will be made again without a doubt. I'm glad I had to change dessert directions at the last minute, but this ended being one of my favorite cupcakes this year!
Banana-Caramel Decadence Cupcakes
~makes about 15 cupcakes~
For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
For the caramel:
1 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the caramel buttercream:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of the prepared caramel
For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Whisk together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, slat, and cinnamon.
In another bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with banana mixture, and beating until just combined after each. Stir in butterscotch chips.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
For the caramel: Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Stop stirring, and cook until syrup comes to a boil. Continue to boil, gently swirling pan occasionally to color evenly, until mixture is very dark amber. Remove from heat; add cream in a steady stream (the mixture will spatter), stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth and combined. Let cool.
For the caramel buttercream: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until pale and fluffy. In the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine 1/4 cup sugar and the egg whites. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
Attach bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue whisking until egg mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 5-10 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add beaten butter, a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, very slowly pour in caramel; beat a couple of minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, and continue to beat until caramel is fully incorporated.
Putting it all together: Frost cupcakes by using a small offset spatula to spread the buttercream or fill a pastry bag (fitted with the tip of your choice) with the cream and pipe on. Drizzle with additional caramel (you should have some leftover). Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.
Slightly adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes