This celebration recipe is designed to maximize banana flavor in a moist and tender cake batter spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, topped with a beautifully light and fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and caramelized banana coins. The secret for getting intense flavor is using sweet, fragrant, superripe bananas. If your fruit isn’t soft and covered in brown-black spots when you’re ready to bake, you can speed things up in the oven. Set it to 300°F and prick your bananas all over with a fork. Lay them out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the skins are completely black and glossy. Let them cool, peel and mash with a fork, and you’re ready to go.
For more, check out our Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, Fresh Ginger Cupcakes, and Spiced Apple Cupcakes.
For the cupcakes:
- 2-3 overripe medium bananas (see note on ripening in intro)
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
For the buttercream:
- 5 large egg whites
- 10 ounces granulated sugar (a scant 1 1/2 cups)
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 pound unsalted whipped butter
For the caramelized bananas:
- 2 medium bananas, sliced
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
To make the cupcakes:
1Set out all your ingredients. Peel and mash the bananas—you need 1 cup of chunky purée for this recipe.
2Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line the wells of 2 cupcake tins with paper liners; lightly coat with baking spray.
3In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.
4In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until light in color, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Next, add in the one cup of mashed banana. Add the vanilla.
5On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated (overmixing will make the cupcakes tough).
6Spoon the batter into the prepared tins, each no more than 3/4 full. Bake until the tops spring back from a light touch with your finger, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting, at least 1 hour.
To make the buttercream:
1Add the whipped butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and and beat on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, 10 to 15 minutes. Scrape into a mixing bowl and set aside.
2Fill a medium saucepan about a quarter full of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3Whisk the egg whites and sugar by hand In the immaculately clean bowl of your stand mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk vigorously and continuously until the sugar has fully dissolved and the whites are hot to the touch, about 3 to 5 minutes.
4Place bowl into the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is glossy and firm and has tripled in volume. Reduce speed to medium and add the whipped butter about 1 cup at a time. Set aside.
To caramelize the bananas:
1Combine the sliced bananas, dark brown sugar, and butter in a large cast iron or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the bananas have browned and the sugar has caramelized. Set aside to cool completely.
1Ice the cupcakes with buttercream, using a pastry bag or a zipper-top storage bag with one of the corners snipped off. Top with caramelized banana slices.
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