Banana Butterscotch Cupcakes

Butterscotch on top of butterscotch on top of … you get the idea.

By The Editors

Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

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Love butterscotch? These are your cupcakes. Not only is the homemade frosting a creamy, butterscotch-y confection, but the cakes themselves are flecked with delectable butterscotch chips. The recipe comes from Elinor Klivans’ Cupcakes! (Chronicle), a cookbook with more than 50 recipes for the handheld treats. If you’re hungry for cupcakes - or heck, any cake at all - you owe yourself a look-see.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 medium bananas, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk (any fat content)
1 cup (6 ounces) butterscotch chips

Frosting:
1/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Make the cupcakes. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until blended and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the banana pieces, mixing until they are blended into the mixture; you will still see some small pieces of banana. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is blended. Add the vanilla and beat for 1 minute. On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it. Mix in the buttermilk. Mix in the remaining flour mixture until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Stir in the butterscotch chips.

3. Fill each paper liner with a scant 1/3 cup of batter, to about 1/4 inch below the top of the liner. Bake until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

4. Carefully place the wire rack on top of the cupcakes in their pan. Protecting your hands with pot holders and holding the pan and rack together, invert them to release the cupcakes onto the wire rack. Turn the cupcakes top side up to cool completely.

5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half and brown sugar over low heat, stirring often, until the brown sugar melts. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute, stirring often. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate until cool to the touch, about 45 minutes.

6. In a large bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes. At first the mixture will look crumbly, but then it will form a smooth mass. Add the vanilla and brown sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

7. Use a small spatula to spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of frosting on top of each cupcake.

Note:
The cupcakes can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Makes 12 regular cupcakes

Excerpted from Cupcakes! © 2005 by Elinor Klivans. Reprinted with permission of Chronicle Books.

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