Banana Caramel Cupcakes

Sometimes I could truly kick myself for having a recipe saved for so long before finally trying it.  This one had been sitting waiting patiently for a year and a half.  At least for me, it’s easy for banana caramel to be overlooked in favor of something uber chocolatey or maybe something involving cheesecake – but I will not make that mistake again.  These cupcakes are truly divine.  The banana flavor in the cake and the caramel in the frosting are both prominent and compliment each other perfectly.  I am normally not one to play around with baking recipes for fear of a batter that will never solidify or be far too dry, but I did make some alterations to this and they ended up working out really well.  As an added bonus, any recipe that leaves me with a leftover squeeze-bottle full of homemade caramel sauce – well, that’s a winner.

I’m not going to lie – the frosting takes a looong time to make.  It took quite a while for the egg-sugar mixture to reach the desired temperature.  (Next time I’ll be absolutely sure my eggs are at room temperature – I may have skipped that step.)  Not only that, but as you add the butter, it seems like it is never going to come together and you think you just wasted all that time.  But then, you add the last couple pieces and some magical state is reached that transforms it into a nice, thick buttercream.  Finally you mix in the caramel and the texture becomes silky smooth and the flavor the caramel contributes takes this to a whole new level.  It may have been an ordeal to make, but I think it was completely worth the effort.  This may be my new favorite frosting.  Stay tuned next week to see what I did with my leftover caramel (it’s gooood!)

Bananas about bananas?  Check out some other yummy banana treats:
Banana Cream Pie
Banana Biscotti
Roasted Banana Ice Cream
Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Banana Crumb Muffins

Banana Caramel Cupcakes
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Yield: 24+ cupcakes*

For the cupcakes:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana

For the caramel:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar

For the frosting:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pieces, at room temperature

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix in 1 the mashed banana until well combined.  With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing only until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 to ¾ full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the caramel sauce, combine the butter, heavy cream and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Once it reaches a boil, lower the heat to medium and continue to boil until the mixture is thickened, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.

To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat the mixture, whisking very frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved and reaches 160° F on an instant read thermometer.  Transfer the mixture to the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks.  Reduce the speed to medium low, add in the salt and begin adding the butter one piece at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in ½ cup of the cooled caramel sauce until well blended.

Frost the cooled cupcakes with the caramel buttercream, and drizzle with the remaining caramel sauce.  (If the caramel has cooled too much to be easily drizzled, heat for 10 seconds in the microwave and stir well to thin it a bit.)

*Note: I made 1.5 batches of batter, and baked 36 cupcakes.  However, I still felt like I dumped quite a bit down the drain.  I don’t know the exact amount, but this makes a lot of cupcakes!

Source: adapted from Half Baked via Blake Makes

35 Responses

  1. Two fantastic flavors in one cupcake… delicious!

  2. Thank goodness you finally got around to making these cupcakes, since I SWOON over anything with caramel 😀

  3. mmm these look so so good!! And Swiss Meringue Buttercream is my absolute favorite – LOVE it!!!

  4. Oh, yeah! Love, love, love banana and caramel together.

  5. Looks absolutely delicious. I never thought to drizzle butterscotch or anything over top of frosting. This is a recipe I’m destined to try. Thanks.

  6. I was eating a banana as I read your post and thinking hmmmm, I have bananas left! Looks like a great recipe and I love the caramel drizzle over the frosting. Yum!

  7. goodness gracious, that looks delicious!

  8. These look so delicious! I’ve never made homemade caramel before but I’d love to try it!

  9. Caramel is a favorite and this looks like a perfect combo. Beautiful photo too!

  10. Wow … my hubbs was just requested banana cupcakes the other day … u’ve answered my prayers! And pairing it with a caramel buttercream .. *gasp* .. so naughty 😉

  11. Long-time reader, first-time commenter here: I made Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the first time last weekend, and I was so perplexed (and vexed!) when it was all curdled and wet and strange-looking. I’m glad to read that it’s normal! Eventually it did all come together, and man, it was delicious. I’ll bet it’s perfect on these cupcakes — I can’t wait to try ’em!

  12. Beautiful cupcakes! I have read numerous comments by others who have made the “true” buttercream that it takes awhile to come together. I’ve never tried it, but your post is very persuasive. 😉

  13. They look delicious and lovely photos too. Love how the caramel is drizzled over the top

  14. I love you site, it’s always a reliable go to whenever I’m stumped. I love your piping, what tip did you use?

  15. Annie-

    You are just too awesome, do you know that?

  16. These look sooooo yummy !

  17. Wow wow WOW! These look heavenly!

  18. These sound fantastic. I love both caramel and bananas together. Going to save this and try this on a rainy day.

  19. Mmmmmm! Sounds yummy! I am a big fan of anything banana. My favorite are my grandma’s banana chocolate chip cookies (frozen are best)! But the caramel aspect of these sounds super tempting! 🙂

  20. Mmmmm looks delicious! I made a banana cake with caramel whipped cream that sounds similar to this…yum!

  21. Your pictures are always so professional! And of course it just makes everything look 10 x tastier 🙂

  22. I just made these. Outrageous!!!

  23. just curious what you use to pipe your icing on – it always look fabulous! is it just a regular piping bag? thanks for all of your recipes & ideas!

  24. oh these surely look delicious! yummy

  25. Tracy,
    If you read the above comments, you see at least one other person did make them with success. I have made this recipe multiple times directly from my blog without issue. So, no typo – sounds like user error. Who knows what went wrong on your end. 6 eggs is not a lot, since as I mentioned this makes over 3 dozen cupcakes.

  26. In France we would say “quelle tuerie !” (= stunning) !

  27. Annie – just wanted to let you know that I just made these cupcakes and they are awesome! I changed up the frosting recipe since I’m afraid of SMBC at the moment but the cake is so moist and delicious. Thanks for such great recipes!

    • Glad you enjoyed them! Don’t forget, SMBC is actually supposed to curdle before it comes back together. You just have to keep beating. Sometimes it takes a long time, but it’s totally worth it!

  28. i tried this!
    awesome cupcakes! but i failed with the frosting it just did´t stiff and i gave up, next time i’ll be more patient because it looks very good

  29. FABULOUS!!!! I have been looking for a banana cake recipe that wasn’t dense like bread…this was it. It was cake; light & fluffy. I substituted sifted cake flour & decreased sugar to 1 cup since bananas provide plenty of sweetness. It was perfect. Cake & icing complimented each other well. I recently attempted a meringue based buttercream with no success. Followed your instructions exactly and it was spot on perfect! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!!

  30. Annie,
    Thank you for your endless inspiration, fabulous recipes, and beautiful photos! I do have a question about the caramel. Did you drizzle it on with a spoon or use a squeeze bottle? Thank you in advance!

    • Aimee, I drizzle it with a squeeze bottle. However, let me warn you that I’ve made this sauce a few times since the original post and I have found it to be inconsistent. I know a lot of others have had trouble with it too. So my suggestion is to find a different recipe for the caramel sauce. Finding a new one to update that recipe is on my short list of things to do.

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