I'm actually not too terrible about documenting things in other areas of my life. For instance, I have all my blog photos perfectly organized and stored on a giant external hard drive. They're organized by month, and each recipe has folders for the original, unedited photos that make the cut to be posted on the blog, Photoshop files, web files, and web files that have been cropped and resized for submitting to sites like Foodgawker or Tastespotting. Even all my academic work for school is perfectly organi...wait. Why am I talking about my archiving tendencies. That's boring and irrelevant and completely unimportant when banana caramel cupcakes are the topic of today's blog post, and this cupcake is staring at you in the face. Just because I'm still sleep deprived doesn't mean that I can lose focus of my priorities. Moving on to cupcakes!
Banana-flavored baked treats, for some reason, are not something I naturally gravitate towards. I mean, if I were presented with a slice of banana-nut bread or a banana muffin or something like that, I would definitely enjoy every last bite, but it just never occurs to me to make banana-flavored recipes, and I really have no idea why. This particular recipe for banana cupcakes with caramel frosting may just be the recipe that will get me to change my mind though. These were some amazing banana cupcakes. Seriously. One of the things I loved most about them was the fact that the banana flavor in the cupcake wasn't completely overpowering. It wasn't like, "OMG, this is a BANANA cupcake", but more like, "omg...this is a banana cupcake." See the subtle distinction between the two? No? Pretend like you do anyway, please.
My dilemma for whenever I do make banana-flavored goodies is what to pair the banana component with. Chocolate and peanut butter are always at the top of my list, and I can never seem to pick between the two. This recipe, however, paired a delicious banana cupcake with caramel flavored cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce on top. Woah, buddy. This was the winning combination, and I'm so glad I chose it. The caramel buttercream was light and fluffy and like the cupcake, wasn't overpowering with too strong of a caramel flavor. The two put together made for a perfect bite, and I just loved the caramel drizzle over the top of the buttercream. It was the perfect way to finish off these cupcakes, and just made them seem even more indulgent and delicious. Ahh, cupcake perfection.
These banana caramel cupcakes are super simple to put together. The cupcake batter practically mixes itself, and you can use the mashing-the-banana-part to release some of your daily stress. The caramel sauce comes together easily, and then there's the Swiss meringue buttercream. Don't be intimidated by it! Your stand mixer literally does all the heavy mixing work, and remember, when all hope seems lost, just keep on mixing, and the buttercream WILL come together, promise! As much fun as banana-mashing can be, caramel-drizzling is definitely the best part of these cupcakes. Line your work surface with newspaper or something so that you don't have too huge of a mess to clean up, and go wild with that caramel sauce (extra points if you get lots of caramel sauce drippage down the sides of the cupcakes- that's another one of my favorite parts of these cupcakes). Now it's your turn to make these. Enjoy!
Banana Caramel Cupcakes
recipe from Annie's Eats
For the cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana (the browner, the better!)
For the caramel
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
For the frosting
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F and positioning a rack in the middle of the oven. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low, and add in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the mashed banana until well mixed. With the mixer running on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk, making sure to begin and end with the dry ingredients, and mix only until just incorporated. Do not overmix!
Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cupcake well about 2/3 of the way. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan slightly, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cupcakes are in the oven and cooling, prepare the caramel sauce. Combine the butter, heavy cream, and brown sugar in a medium heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring it continuously. Once the mixture begins to boil, lower the heat, and let the mixture continue to boil until it has thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow the caramel sauce to cool.
To prepare the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a standard electric mixer that's been set over a pot of simmering water. Heat the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved and reaches 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, making sure to whisk constantly. Place the bowl back on the electric mixer, and with the whisk attachment, beat on medium-high speed until the mixture begins to hold stiff peaks. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low, add the salt, and begin to add the butter one piece at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Mix in about 1/2 cup of the cooled caramel sauce.
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost the cupcakes with the caramel buttercream (I used a large star tip), and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce. Enjoy!
Makes about 30 cupcakes