Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bananas Foster Cupcakes

This cupcake flavor goes all the way back to a restaurant in New Orleans around 1951.  It was all the rage back then, even Eisenhower considered Bananas Foster one of his favorite desserts.

The restaurant, called Brennan's, is still going strong in Louisiana.  Even though you do not hear much about this particular dessert, Brennan 's continues to have the dessert on its menu. Every year they manage to light up over 35,000 pounds of bananas to make Bananas Foster at the request of their customers. That information leads you to the conclusion that it is really worth trying.

This recipe makes about 17-18 cupcakes.  The little bit of rice flour helps lighten up the texture of these cupcakes.  However, since the bananas are not pureed, the cupcakes are dense. Do not let that put you off, because they are still quite tasty. The cake part is very moist with chunks of bananas and the light crunch of the toasted coconut on top adds a nice contrasting texture. 

Bananas Foster Cupcakes
courtesy of Elle's New England Kitchen 

Ingredients/Banana Foster
1/2 cup rum
2 tbs of water
4 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 under ripe bananas, sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
2 eggs (room temp)
bananas (separated from sauce) from recipe for Bananas Foster
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup rice flour (brown or white)
1 1/2 cups regular flour

Ingredients/Buttercream Frosting
Banana Foster sauce (separated from bananas in recipe)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter (room temp)
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 small bag of sweetened coconut (14 oz), toasted

Making the Bananas Foster is the first step in creating your cupcakes. Take out a 10 inch saucepan and place the butter inside.  Put saucepan on low heat to melt the butter.  Then add allspice,nutmeg and brown sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved.  This should take about 4-5 minutes.

Mix in the water and heat up until it starts to simmer.  Put each of the banana slices, cut side down, into the pan.  While the bananas are cooking, spoon sauce over top.  Continue to cook for about 1 minute.  Turn slices over and let that side cook as you spoon more sauce over top.  Bananas are done after 2nd side has cooked for 1 minute.  Remove bananas from saucepan and place in heat proof bowl. Set aside.

Make sure that the sauce is still simmering in the saucepan, once the bananas are removed. You made need to turn up the heat to bring it back to simmer. Than carefully pour in the rum.  The alcohol may ignite at this time or you may need to light with a match after all the rum is poured in.  The rum burns off and flame dies out in about 2 minutes.

During the cooking time, the sauce have become syrupy.  If it is not, then cook for 4 minutes until thickened.  Note that upon cooling it will thicken even more.  Remove saucepan from heat and pour sauce into heat proof bowl and set aside.

While the syrup and bananas are cooling, the batter for the cupcakes can be made.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare muffin tins by greasing the top edge of the holders and placing liners in cups.

In a medium bowl, sift together both flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.  Take out an electric mixer and place butter and both sugars inside large bowl.  Beat ingredients together with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.

Continue to beat mixture and add bananas until evenly blended.  Add 1 egg at a time, beating after each addition.  Then beat in the vanilla extract and then set mixer aside.

With a wooden spoon, fold half of the flour mixture into the batter. Once no dry spots remain in the batter, stir in the buttermilk. Lastly, fold the remaining flour mixture into the batter.

Using a ice cream scoop or spoon, drop batter into cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 full.  Bake in oven until tester comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Pan should be rotated halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

To create frosting, sift together confectioners sugar and salt. Then add butter and beat with an electric mixer on low speed.  After 2 minutes, increase the speed and beat for an additional 3 minutes.  Mixture should be fluffy and smooth.  Pour in the sauce and the vanilla extract.  Beat for 1 more minute.

To frost the cooled cupcakes, drop a mound of frosting on top of each. Make sure the frosting is evenly divided and completely used up.  With a butter knife, go back and smooth out the mound on the top of the cupcake (it does not have to be perfect looking due to the last step).

Then take each frosted cupcake and dip upside down into the bowl of toasted coconut. Turn right side up and they are ready to serve.