Banana Cupcakes with Caramel & Cream Cheese Frosting

Comfort food means different things to different people. Upon hearing the words, some may dream up images of homemade chicken pot pie or mashed potatoes, while others may think about fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. To me, “comfort food” isn’t completely about the food itself, but also about the steps it takes to make it. Creaming butter and sugar together and enjoying the smells of fresh baked cake coming out of the oven is what really makes a food comforting to me. Plain and simple. Because, as they mention in the movie Julie & Julia “You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.” Baking is a very constant art. Add flour to a cake and it will rise. Add sugar to cookies and they will be sweet. And add baking into my day, and it will be a good one.

These banana cupcakes were inspired by the comfort food queen Paula Dean. I saw her make these on her show once and decided to make a version of my own. But as much as I love Paula, I love the people that I’m making these cupcakes for more and decided Paula’s heart attack inducing, 3-sticks-of-butter cake was a bit too much. So here I give you a lightened up version of her delectable southern cupcakes. I brushed the cupcakes with a simple syrup to ensure a moist, sweet cake. Next I topped them off with cream cheese frosting & a light drizzle of caramel topping. Bake, Eat, Enjoy.

Ingredients: Makes 18 cupcakes

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 3 mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
Simple Syrup:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Frosting:
  • 8 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 teaspoons caramel topping
Preparation:
  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy; beat in canola oil
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt & apple pie spice together
  4. In a smaller bowl, mash bananas until smooth and stir in vanilla & buttermilk
  5. Alternate adding banana mixture and dry ingredients to butter mixture with electric mixer at a low speed
  6.  Divide batter into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for 25 minutes
  7. For the simple syrup, combine water & sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil; once you have reached a boil, reduce to a simmer and keep on heat until sugar has dissolved completely
  8. Once cupcakes have cooled, prick tops with a fork and then brush with simple syrup
  9. For frosting, beat softened cream cheese & butter together until light & fluffy; slowly add in powdered sugar & vanilla until well incorporated
  10. Frost cupcakes or use a piping bag, then drizzle with some caramel topping
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