You will love what's inside of these banana cupcakes

These cupcakes mark a very historical moment. I have officially found a caramel recipe that I not only can make without screwing up, but actually love, love, LOVE. Caramel and I have always had a very rocky relationship. I love eating it more than anything on the planet, but making it has always scared me. And for no good reason. I don't have any stories of caramel disasters or ruined pots with burnt sugar stuck to the bottom. I've made countless different recipes, countless times, all with decent enough success. But it was never quite what I wanted. It was always too thin, too thick, too light....basically, whatever I was aiming for it would always be the opposite. But then the other day, I was doing some caramel making research (as I do in my spare time, obviously.) and I found this recipe with a picture of the darkest, thickest, most gorgeous caramel I have ever seen. And in that moment I knew that all my problems were solved forever (all my caramel problems, that is. still can't figure out how to fit all of my baking pans into the world's smallest cabinet without a daily catastrophic avalanche. Someone write an article on that, please).


The secret to caramel success that I had been missing for so long is to cook the caramel a second time, after all of the cream and butter and salt have been added. Maybe this is a well known thing among everyone but me, but every recipe I have tried up until now has skipped that part. It usually ends with instructions to remove from the heat, stir in the butter and pour out of the pan. But actually, that second trip back to the stove is when you get to decide how thick you want your caramel. The first cooking (of the sugar and water) dictates how dark it will be. I like it between 340-350 for a really dark caramel. Then the cream get whisked in, the butter gets all melted and salt gets added. And THEN, you cook it again at a simmer until it is just a little thinner than you want the end product to be. If you want an ice cream level syrupy caramel, go for about 5 minutes. If you want a thick spreadable caramel for in between sandwich cookies, go for about 10. And if you want perfectly gooey cupcake caramel that is firm enough not to soak into the cake but soft enough to make the stringy, melty caramel swirls of your dreams: I found 8 minutes to be just the thing.


And what better thing to do with absolute caramel perfection but use it to fill a super soft, moist banana cupcake topped with brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese frosting? I mean, come on. This banana cake is basically a slightly more dessert-y version of banana bread. I was just going to do cream cheese frosting on top, but then I added brown sugar and cinnamon and I am so glad that I did. It tastes like a frosting version of the brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tart (the very best pop tart, no arguments allowed) and I want it on everything.

Now that my caramel fears have been cured I kind of want to make everything caramel filled. So get ready. But in the meantime, just start with these cupcakes.

Caramel Filled Banana Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Frosting

Note: This makes kind of a lot of frosting but I always like to err on the side of too much vs. giving people unfrosted cupcakes. If you plan to pipe on frosting in a heap, this is a good amount. If you're a more conservative, thin layer of frosting type person, you could probably cut it in half.

Banana cake adapted from Epicurious | Caramel adapted from The Kitchn

Makes 12 cupcakes
| Ingredients |
For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 heaping cup, once mashed)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the caramel:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • pinch of salt

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

| Instructions |

  • Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12 cup cupcakes pan with paper liners.
  • In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars for 3 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 more minute. Scrape down the bowl well and add the bananas and vanilla. Mix well. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with the sour cream. Mix until combined. Divide batter between the pans. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water for the caramel in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir until the sugar is wet and sandy, then stop stirring. Let the sugar cook undisturbed for 8-15 minutes, depending on how dark you want it. Aim for between 320-350 degrees on a candy thermometer.
  • Heat the cream in the microwave until it is just warm to the touch. If you add cold cream to the sugar it will seize up. Once the sugar is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream. It will bubble up, so pour slowly. Add the butter and salt and whisk until the butter has melted. Return the pan to the stove at medium-low heat and simmer, stirring often, until it is the consistency you want. I found 8 minutes to be perfect for filling the cupcakes. Keep in mind that it will firm up slightly as it cools, so pull it while it is still a little thinner than you would like. Remove from the pan and let cool to room temperature.
  • For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer until smooth. Add both sugars and mix on low speed until combined. Scrape the bowl and add the vanilla and cinnamon. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat the frosting until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a spoon/knife/whatever you can find to form a hole in the top. Rather than scooping out a big hole and throwing away the extra cake, I like to form the hole and just press the extra cake down into the bottom. This makes the bottom a little extra dense, which is good for holding up to fillings and also saves you from wasting any cake. Fill each hole with caramel using a spoon or piping bag. Frost cupcakes and serve.


RELATED: New year, new recipes

New year, new recipes
See Gallery
New year, new recipes

Cherry Almond Oatmeal Muffins

"In just ten minutes, they’re ready for a trip to the oven and emerge studded with almonds and cherries.  A perfect companion to your favorite morning beverage." - Melanie Makes

Get the recipe here!

Winter Yogurt Bowl

"One way to get your probiotics is through yogurt. Certain store-bought yogurts contain stronger probiotic strains than others and that is certainly something to be mindful of when you’re perusing the aisles." - Nutrition by Mia

Get the recipe here!

Healthy Mint Chocolate Smoothie

"Who says milkshakes can’t be healthy? This Healthy Mint Chocolate Smoothie is like dessert for breakfast yet it’s full of protein!  {gluten free}." - Seasonal Cravings

Get the recipe here!

Hydrating Citrus Drink

"Full of all-natural ingredients, free from any artificial flavors or dyes, and rich in vitamin C, this is one DIY Hydrating Citrus Drink you can feel good about giving your family." - Fork and Beans

Get the recipe here!

Pineapple Spinach Juice

"Subtle, yet refreshing green juice packed with Vitamin A, iron and other terrific antioxidants." - Sweet and Savory

Get the recipe here!

Pea Protein Strawberry Banana Spinach Smoothie

"It’s also super low fat AND low carb. It’s PEA PROTEIN and I am beyond excited about it!" - Veggies Don't Bite

Get the recipe here!

Korean Chickpeas, Carrots and Potatoes over Quinoa

"I love chickpeas, and just knew they would be great in this dish, so that’s what I went with." - Veggies Don't Bite

Get the recipe here!

Kale, Corn and Kabocha Hash with Ginger Garlic Tofu and Jasmine Rice

"Fold everything into yummy goodness. Taste and add more soy sauce if desired. Serve steaming hot. This is bowl food." - Kale and Caramel

Get the recipe here!

Ahi Poke Bowls

"While there are a lot of poke bowls floating around, I maintain that simple's often best, and there really isn't much to a good poke bowl. It all starts with good fish." - Fix Feast Flair

Get the recipe here!

Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup

"Just like my grandma makes it, this chicken and rice soup is simple yet very comforting! Make a huge pot so you can have something to warm you up all week." - Olivia's Cuisine

Get the recipe here!

Turmeric Sweet Potato Chips With Mascarpone Dip

"Turmeric sweet potato chips with mascarpone dip is a healthier appetizer recipe where the chips are baked and not fried, and the dip is loaded with herbs!" - Cooking and Beer

Get the recipe here!

Salmon Rice Bowls with Avocado and Pickled Veggies

"Man. I just finished eating one of these for lunch and my suspicions have been confirmed — I’m going to be eating a LOT more of them." - PDX Food Love

Get the recipe here!

Asparagus Detox Soup

"This is a fantastic soup that will help you de-bloat and is fantastic for weight loss." - Organically Thin

Get the recipe here!

Roasted Potato, Cauliflower, and Beet Soup

"This gorgeous beet soup is so quick and easy- just roast some veggies and simmer with broth." - The Wanderlust Kitchen

Get the recipe here!

Pickled Roasted Red Peppers

"Most of these I eat right out the jar while standing with the refrigerator door open. They are addictively good and totally 100% healthy, so why not!?!" - Health Starts in the Kitchen

Get the recipe here!

Whole Wheat Linguine Pesto

"Add all pesto ingredients to a blender or cuisinart, pulse until just combined." - Organically Thin

Get the recipe here!

One-Pan Mexican Chicken Quinoa 

"This quinoa bowl is extremely versatile.  You can prepare it with a different meat as well as vary the vegetables and seasonings." - Butter and Sea Salt

Get the recipe here!

Kale Salad with Beet Ribbons

"I like to make a big batch and have them on hand all week. The tofu and beets require no cooking, so this is one very quick meal once everything is ready to go." - The Domesticated Wolf

Get the recipe here!

Roasted Broccoli Burrito Bowls

"One of my favorite ways to cook broccoli (and most veggies for that matter) is to roast it. Tossed with a splash of olive oil and a good bit of salt and pepper." - Fork Knife Swoon

Get the recipe here!

Avocado Egg Salad

"This avocado egg salad is the perfect way to fill my plate and I with the good stuff while keeping it light, healthy, and super delicious." - The Skinny Fork

Get the recipe here!

Mandarin Avocado Salad

"The creamy avocado, sweet mandarin oranges, juicy tomatoes, salty feta and tangy vinaigrette form a harmonious little dish that works well as an appetizer or a light lunch." - The Kitchen Prep

Get the recipe here!

Lemon Tahini Chickpea Salad

" Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein and are also high in fiber which helps with digestion and elimination." - Nutrition by Mia

Get the recipe here!

Broccoli and Butternut Squash Omelettata

"This is a really quick breakfast that could be prepared ahead of time and tossed into the oven in the midst of morning chaos." - The Skinny Fork

Get the recipe here!

Spiced Carrot Salad

"It has sweetness and spice and everything nice. A bit of crunch left in the carrots keeps the salad from being overly soft and soggy – I like a little bite left in my carrots and this has the perfect amount." - Jelly Toast

Get the recipe here!

Roasted Carrot Salad with Lemon Yogurt

" This roasted carrot salad couldn’t be easier! So colorful, flavorful and healthy, too!" - The Domesticated Wolf

Get the recipe here!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

"Each bite of this delicious veggie burger has a bunch of protein. Maybe I should have called these Power Veggie Burgers!" - Namely Marly

Get the recipe here!

Vegan Couscous Salad

" Every food I love, on one plate, mixed together and tossed with the most delicious scallion vinaigrette. Colorful, flavorful, tangy and crunchy.  I love it so much. Can you tell?" - The Domesticated Wolf

Get the recipe here!

Baked Barbecue Kale Chips

"You can season the baked chips a little more if you need a little more barbecue flavor. Store in airtight container until you are ready to eat." - A Brown Table

Get the recipe here

Orange Avocado Salad with Honey Vinaigrette

"Salads are really just a blank canvas for great, fresh flavors and they’re only as exciting {or boring} as you make them." - The Kitchen Prep

Get the recipe here!

Chopped Blueberry Kale and Quinoa Salad

"Personally, I can only tolerate a small serving of quinoa occasionally, like as an addition to a delicious salad like this." - Health Starts in the Kitchen

Get the recipe here!

Glazed Salmon        

"Glazed Salmon and I have become fast friends. There was a time, we weren’t, but now those days are long gone." - Simply Sated

Get the recipe here!

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas on Toast

"Creamy chickpeas playing off of crisp, caramelized roasted cauliflower, tossed with briny, pungent capers, nose-clearing honey mustard, and a little vinegar, finished off with teeny-tiny currants for touch of jammy sweetness (which is, as always, the way to my heart)."- Two Red Bowls

Get the recipe here!

Beet Veggie Burger

"The flax eggs and quantity of cheese may have effected how the patties held together, but the flavor wasn’t lacking!" - Lemons and Basil

Get the recipe here!

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls

"I quite often use spaghetti squash in place of the zucchini in my Zucchini Spaghetti with Lentil Marinara recipe, but because this vegetable is so versatile I love using it in less traditional ways, hence these burrito bowls." - Lemons and Basil

Get the recipe here!

Baked Pumpkin Seed Falafel

"It’s a healthier take (baked, not fried; low oil) on traditional falafel without skimping on big flavor. And, to bust that vegan protein myth wide open, I’ve upped the protein and rich flavor quotient with the addition of pepitas!" - The Little Foxes

Get the recipe here!

General Tso's Baked Cauliflower

"Baked instead of fried, this general tso's cauliflower is east, healthy and full of flower!" - The Wanderlust Kitchen

Get the recipe here!

BBQ Sweet Potato and Veggie Pita Pizza

"I change up the sauce and toppings on our weekly pizzas, but this one is likely my favorite." - Lemons and Basil

Get the recipe here!

Veggie Enchilada Bowls

"Switch things up and top sweet potatoes, rice or quinoa with the filling for a satisfying substitution, or serve right in a spaghetti squash “bowl” like I do!" - The Kitchen Prep

Get the recipe here!

No Bake Salted Caramel Chocolate Oat Bars (Gluten Free, Vegan)

"These No Bake Salted Caramel Chocolate Oat Bars come together with only 9 wholesome ingredients and are refined sugar-free!" - With Salt and Wit

Get the recipe here!


Read Full Story

Sign up for the Best Bites by AOL newsletter to get the most delicious recipes and hottest food trends delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.