Friday, October 22, 2010

Banana-Caramel Decadence Cupcakes


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~

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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 

43 comments:

  1. Woww gorgeous looking cupcakes, love that caramel butter cream frosting..cute!!

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  2. Beautiful cupcakes. Love the caramel additions. Everything is better with caramel. ;)

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  3. I love reading stories of a confident baker, freewheeling until she comes up with the perfect and beautiful dessert. Yes, you. They are just lovely. Did you take that shower?

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  4. Rocquie, I actually did take the shower, but more because homemade caramel is extremely sticky and I had it on my face, under my chin, on my arms and probably a few other places. LOL

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  5. What beautiful cupcakes!these look amazing!

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  6. Susi, the cupcakes look gorgeous. Who wouldn't like to eat one. Hab' hier auch so ein paar Bananen rumliegen. Leider hab ich eine Allergie gegen Bananen, aber meine Kids faenden es bestimmt toll.

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  7. OH my goodness, those do sound fantastic. And you've talked me into trying the caramel buttercream... sounds heavenly.

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  8. OH my! I don't think I have been drooling so much in front of cupcakes in a looong time! I usually choose cakes over cupcakes but these ones are fantastic. I love love love caramel so I'll have to try the buttercream

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  9. Oh yum! What a great flavor combination

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  10. Do you know how badly I want to devour your delicious banana caramel decadence cupcakes Susi???! Sadly I'm allergic to bananas so I won't be able to eat them. But I'm so making the caramel buttercream, YUM!!!! Your photos are always so beautiful. Great job!

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  11. So funny! I too started making an apple recipe the other night and the baking gods were against me. (My canola oil was 3 years old!)

    These look yummy! (Maybe I will add chocolate to the batter.)

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  12. ZOMG, these look incredible. I am so jealous of your icing skills. AMAZING frosted works of art.

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  13. Oh how yummy & I like the candy corn header~!

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  14. I love the combination of banana and caramel, and these cupcakes look divine! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and your beautiful photos. Plus, I've gotta say, you piped the frosting beautifully! Thanks very much for adding me to your blog list, too!

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  15. Wow. These cupcakes look scrumptious! Good job.

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  16. you overdid yourself again with this recipe, I love the idea of caramel buttercream, I'll give it a try soon

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  17. These sound heavenly! Bananas and caramel are a match made in heaven :)!

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  18. That caramel drizzle is the perfect addition! I've been wondering about the combination of bananas and caramel lately and this post has me thinking it's a winner :)

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  19. Every bit of those cupcakes look completely drool-worthy. I love the caramel-y drizzle!

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  20. How can I stop drooling? Nothing sounds better to me than a banana cupcake with such a decadent caramel sauce drizzled on top. Isn't it great how unplanned changes/adaptations can sometimes result in amazing results? Thank you for sharing, and thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

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  21. This is so yummy! caramel sauce on anything sweet rocks my world

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  22. Susi, my dear, these are gorgeous. Both the picture and the actual cupcakes. I WANT ONE NOW!

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  23. The caramel drizzled across the top just makes me want to cry. It looks so, so delicious.

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  24. Cute - I have a recipe very similar to these.
    Stop by my site for more great recipes and food science baking tips!
    www.form5artisan.blogspot.com

    Cheers!

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  25. Who knew bananas could be so decadent! This is a dreamy combination of flavors and your frosting is just perfect. The caramel dripping off just seals the deal for me!

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  26. Wow, Susi-Such a beautiful job you did on these caramel frosting, and glaze, on the cupcakes. The cupcake are so tempting, I must make these for a special celebration, along with your Top 9 Meatloaf!
    You're the "BOMB"

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  27. Oh, WOW! Cupcakes and caramel sauce!? That has to be delicious!

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  28. Gorgeous!!! These look so great.

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  29. It looks decadent for sure!!! congratz on top 9 again! you rock!!!!

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  30. Where do you get all your pretty cupcake papers?

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  31. Hi Lunch Buckets, thanks for stopping by :o) I get my cupcake papers from all over the place, a lot of times I will grab some while out and about at a store but here a few great online places which I have ordered from before:

    http://www.kitchenkrafts.com/category.asp_Q_c_E_900988_A_Cupcake+LIners

    http://createcupcakes.com/jcms/

    http://www.bakeitpretty.com/category_130/Baking-Cups.htm

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  32. Susi-these are gorgeous!Beautiful photos. Amazing jobs!Happy Sunday!

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  33. Susi, that is absolute decadence, for sure! I can't wait to try your caramel buttercream.

    (p.s. congrats on today's Top 9! You're on a roll!)

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  34. Like you, I usually prefer chocolate to caramel...BUT this recipe definitely gives chocolate a run for it's money! These look terrific Susi. Good job "fiddling" around in the kitchen.

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  35. These cupcakes look seriously decadent and delicious! You did a great job, thanks for sharing!

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  36. I would love to be able to frost cupcakes so pretty. I'm so jealous. All I ever manage to do is make a mess.

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  37. Wow.....these are a must try for me! Banana and caramel, yum!

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  38. oh WOW. these sure look decadent, and oh-so-wonderful. definitely worth the effort

    http://greenoatsandjam.wordpress.com

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  39. Absolutely stunning! I bet these taste amazing.

    http://blogstew.net/foodfrenzy

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  40. Making these today!!!!! Can't wait to taste test ;-)

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