Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

I’ve been intimidated to make a from scratch cake. Both my mom and I tried our hands at true homemade from scratch cakes last year and we each bombed. Severely.  Neither one of us have been quick to give it another go. Until now. I ran across a quote this week that read, “successful people replace the words like “wish”, “try” and “should” with “I WILL”.  Ineffective people don’t.” That’s my new mantra, “I WILL”!  I WILL make a delicious cake from scratch, dammit. 😉 Well, cupcakes really. And I WILL make them for Mother’s Day.  🙂

I won’t lie. There was a little fear when heading into the kitchen to prepare these cupcakes. But the excitement and positive anticipation out-weighed the fear by far.  Who better to try scratch cupcakes on then my nearest and dearest!?  They’ll love me even if I fail, again! Right?? Wait. My nearest and dearest are also my most honest critics. Maybe I should have re-thought this… 😉

Into the kitchen I went. No re-thinking. No going back. I will do this! I can do this! I DID do this! 🙂 The only thing I didn’t do was use the Caramel Buttercream noted below, I used the Caramel Buttercream noted on my Milky Way Cupcakes post.  My dear friend Nicole has asked me at random times over the last few months if I was going to make homemade caramel.  When I decided upon this recipe, I was quick to let her know that the time had come, I would be making homemade caramel. Then I re-read the recipe and found that I needed a candy thermometer. No homemade caramel this time around as I didn’t have time to pick up the required thermometer. But not to worry Nicole, I WILL be making homemade caramel on Mother’s Day when I prepare my mom, Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel and Pecans for breakfast on Sunday morning.  My mom has a candy thermometer.  She has everything! 🙂

Banana Cupcake with Caramel Buttercream!

I found these cupcakes to be more muffin-like than cupcake-like.  I’ve already mastered muffins and breads (especially banana bread!), I was really hoping to conquer the scratch cake world, or at least get my foot in the door.  I’ll give it another whirl come Father’s Day when I make Boston Cream Cupcakes! These cupcakes (or muffins with frosting, whichever you prefer! 😉 are delicious regardless!

Banana Cupcakes
(courtesy Martha Stewart)

3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups), plus sliced bananas for garnish
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Caramel Buttercream (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2. Reduce speed to low. Mix remaining wet ingredients in a bowl.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry.  Stir pecans into batter.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

3. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

4. Once cupcakes are cool, frost with Caramel Buttercream.  Frosted cupcakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. Top with banana slices before serving.

NOTE: I garnished with banana chips instead of fresh bananas. 🙂

Caramel Buttercream
(courtesy Martha Stewart)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is a dark amber. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool.

2. Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

3. Place whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heat-proof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on candy thermometer.

4. Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in vanilla.

5. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low-speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

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4 thoughts on “Banana Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

    • Hmmm. Although the Strawberry-Filled French Toast called for a “Caramel Sauce” (recipe coming soon :)) – I’m going to say no, I didn’t make homemade caramel as it sure didn’t look like caramel to me!

  1. I have the Martha Stewart Cupcake Cookbook and I’ve looked at this recipe many times. Cupcakes are fun to make and from scratch they are alot of work – especially the buttercream icing. I made 3 dozen cupcakes for my sister’s bridal shower, and it was alot of work. Your cupcakes look beautiful!

    • Thank you, and I hear you! Cupcakes from scratch are a lot of work!!! Although I’d love to try Martha’s Caramel Buttercream recipe, it was just too much to try it out this time around. If you get a chance, you should try these cupcakes. They’re delicious! My dad said the texture reminded him of a carrot cake. I thought they were more muffin-like. I’ve had one for breakfast, sans the frosting, the last two mornings! LOL! What kind of cupcakes did you make for your sister’s bridal shower? I bet your hard work was much appreciated! 🙂

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