Bananas Foster Cupcakes

I love birthdays. And bridal showers. And holidays. Did I mention birthdays? Yeah, birthdays.

Baking for my friends and family is a big plus for me. I have the chance to (a) spend time in my favorite place (la cocina!) and (b) squeeze some smiles out of people by giving them awesome treats. My colleague was getting ready to celebrate her birthday at the office, and she deserved something awesome. I pondered several ideas, determined to make a new recipe. One thing I knew for sure she liked is bananas, as she brings in a bunch of 'em just about every week. Bananas. Dessert.....Bananas Foster was the obvious choice.

You can't go wrong with cupcakes on a birthday, though I've met a few cupcake haters in my life. People that just have no interest in treats. Look, I can understand avoiding sweets due to dieting. I have been there. But to hate cupcakes? I don't think we can be friends. Because I am obsessed with them. And cookies.

So bananas foster + cupcakes became my final answer. I was so thrilled to get some baking time in, I busted out a vanilla bean. Now we're getting fancy.

I've been buying locally made vanilla extract and vanilla beans from the farmers market, so fortunately I had a bean on hand. To use it, you just slice the bean open lengthwise, then scrape out the filling. The flavor is so potent when it comes straight from the source. (And, fun fact, throw that near empty bean into a jar with some sugar to make vanilla sugar).

The bananas foster wasn't nearly as challenging as anticipated. I mean, this is a legendary dessert. And when I think legendary, my mind assumes intricate and complicated fit in that same sentence. I was way off. I checked for a recipe to make sure I had the strategy down. After all, this was my first banana-on-the-stove top rodeo. Though I have seen methods that include igniting the mixture to cook the bananas, I went for the simpler, safer method on my first go.

I melted butter in a large skillet, then added some sugar, rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and the inside scrapings of my vanilla bean and simmered it all together until it was bubbling. I mixed in some finely chopped bananas and stirred them to coat all sides. I let it cook a little over a minute longer aaaand...done. I did not want the bananas to be complete mush, so that was just enough time. Served warm over ice cream, you've got yourself a simple yet magical bananas foster.

But I wasn't stopping there. On the sidelines, I baked a vanilla cupcake from the recipe in my vanilla cake post, adding in some nutmeg along the way and using coconut oil. I baked them, let them cool slightly, then cored out the middle. It was time to transform them.

I spooned in about 1-2 tablespoons into each, letting the syrup soak into the cake. They looked pretty delightful even pre-frosting.

I made a standard buttercream with butter, powdered sugar, and a bit of milk, then took it to the next level by adding some of the bananas foster syrup into it. My initial plan was to make a caramel frosting, however I failed miserably at this by trying to make homemade caramel at the same time as I was making the bananas foster. I burned it horribly. Note to self: caramel requires focus.

Just about 1-2 tablespoons of the syrup, though, was enough to add the flavor but not overwhelm it. A couple of the banana slices fell in along the way, so they just blended right in.

I used a piping bag to put the frosting all around the filling, letting it peek out. Appetizing, no?

I have but one complaint about this recipe. It only makes 12. These cupcakes immediately became one of my favorites. I brought them into work for my colleague's birthday, and she loved them! Well, the whole office got in on it and they cleared out pretty quickly, making me really wish I had made a double batch. That's ok though, there is opportunity for future versions now that I have this one down.

The bananas foster filling reminded me a bit of an apple pie. Fruit with a thick, sweet sauce. Maybe I need to be adding rum to my pie fillings...? I can see the appeal of bananas foster.

Cupcakes with filling are an all-around win. Topped off with that sweet frosting that had a browned butter and subtle banana flavor took the flavor to the next level. How could you not love this cupcake at first taste? The cake, filling, and buttercream flavors just went together. And you know, they weren't messy, either. Points scored all around.

Bananas Foster Cupcakes Recipe


For the bananas foster:
3 bananas, diced
1/3 cup rum
1 cup brown sugar
Filling from 1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons 2% milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the bananas foster:
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and rum, then heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture simmers. Add bananas and stir to coat. Continue cooking for 1-2 more minutes.

For the cake:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt and mix. Add in milk, vegetable oil, butter, and vanilla and beat using a hand or stand mixer for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat for 3 minutes. Pour into cake pans sprayed with nonstick baking spray and bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can poke the center of the cake with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

For the frosting:
Beat butter for about 1 minute on medium-high speed, then gradually mix in powdered sugar. Add milk. Pour in 1/4 cup of the syrup from the bananas foster and mix until combined. Add a few banana pieces if desired, then mix until smooth.

Allow cupcakes to cool after baking, then use a spoon or cupcake corer to scoop out some of the center. Fill with about 1 tablespoon of bananas foster. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes as desired.

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