Hope you all have had a wonderful week. I’ve been spending plenty of time outside in the uncharacteristically toasty February sunshine and getting my daily dose of vitamin D, hopefully sans melanoma risk. (It takes all of about 2 days in a cancer lab to swear off tobacco and forgetting to apply sunscreen for the rest of your human existence, and it’s been a little over 2 years for this mildly paranoid undergrad.)
In my remaining spare time, I’ve also been frantically giving myself a crash course in medical Mandarin, since I don’t think I completely thought through the implications of volunteering as a medical translator at the local student-run clinic. I’m pretty sure some of my flashcards include parts of the human body and ways in which they can go wrong that I don’t even know in English (and, by the way, definitely would not recommend Googlling), but, um, I’m keeping calm(-ish) and carrying on?
On a more dessert-related note, I’ve had bananas Foster on my mind for quite a while now actually – after over a year of blogging, I somehow managed to miss one of the most ubiquitous fruits of all, and obviously I needed to attend to this utter travesty. It actually works out to be excellent timing that Mardi Gras is coming up next Tuesday, given the New Orleans connection. It all makes perfect sense, actually. After all, one of the things that I have somehow managed to retain since the good old days of AP US History was the role of New Orleans as a port town and therefore source of all sorts of imported produce – including the then fashionably exotic banana (imagine that).
Since the universe has clearly conspired to make bananas Foster the cupcake flavor of the month, who am I to disagree?
So this week, we’re making ultra fluffy banana cupcakes (which are more or less glorified banana bread in muffin form, but are therefore delicious so it’s fine) and filling them with a deliciously gooey core of bananas Foster filling. Everything gets topped with a swirl of whipped cream cheese frosting, a drizzle of extra bananas Foster sauce, and a single banana chip.
(Side benefit – you also get to devour the rest of the incredibly addictive banana chips in the package, so there’s that too.)
Given my apparent proclivity toward setting things on fire, I made several good faith efforts to properly flambé the theoretically highly flammable concoction of bananas, sugar, and liquor that is bananas Foster, but as I quickly learned, catching a miniscule volume of rapidly boiling off ethanol using a teeny tiny candle lighter does not make for the most possible successful of all endeavors. Nevertheless, said boiling off more or less did the work of leaving behind a thick syrup of cinnamon-y goodness, so really who am I to complain? If you want to try your hand at the technique, I recommend fewer banana slices and a lot more rum.
All potential performance issues aside, these cupcakes are absolutely perfect for rounding out (or entirely comprising) your very own Mardi Gras celebration, or just for any time you want to go fancier than your standard banana smoothie on the go. Hope you enjoy!
Bananas Foster Cupcakes
Bananas Foster recipe from New Orleans Restaurants
Makes 12 cupcakes
150 g flour (1 1/3 c)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1-2 bananas)
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Bananas Foster Filling:
2 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs dark rum
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large banana, peeled and sliced to 1/2″ in thickness
2 tbs vanilla extract
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz heavy cream
1/3 cup white sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, then set aside.
- In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, mix together the oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until well combined.
- Beat in the eggs, mashed banana, and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.
- Dump in the flour mixture all at once and whisk until just combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners and bake for 20-24 minutes, or until the top of the cupcake springs back when squeezed slightly.
- Set aside to cool!
Bananas Foster Filling:
- In a small pan over medium-low heat, dissolve the brown sugar into the butter.
- Add the dark rum and cinnamon, stirring to mix, then arrange the banana slices in a single layer along the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and allow the bottoms of the banana slices to brown and the sauce to bubble and thicken.
- Add the vanilla extract and allow the added liquid to boil off. Remove the saucepan from heat, then reserve about 2 tbs of the sauce. Mash the caramelized bananas in the remainder of the sauce and allow to cool slightly for filling!
Tip: If you are feeling adventurous and particularly inclined to indulge your pyromaniac tendencies, add 2 tbs of rum along with the 2 tbs vanilla extract, then properly flambé the bananas Foster by lighting the liquor/extract mixture on fire. I tried (several times) but unfortunately setting a pan of bananas ablaze is more difficult than it sounds.
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract until fluffy and fully incorporated.
- Adding about 1/4 of the heavy cream at a time and beating well between each addition, whip in the heavy cream until the texture of the frosting is fluffy but stiff and holds stiff peaks that don’t bend over when the beaters are lifted out.
- Set aside to frost!
- Using a large piping tip, scoop out the center of each cupcake as described here.
- Using a small spoon, fill the center of each cupcake with the mashed bananas Foster filling.
- Using a large piping tip of any shape (I used the Wilton 4B tip!) and a piping bag, load the piping bag with whipped cream cheese frostingand pipe a swirl of frosting from the outside inward on top of each cupcake.
- Reheat the reserved sauce from the bananas Foster as needed to dissolve any grainy sugar crystals, then drizzle on top of each cupcake. Enjoy!
Tip: For easy drizzling, load the sauce into a small sandwich bag, snip off a tiny bit of the corner, and use as a miniature piping bag!