Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Banana Bread and Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Happy New Year Banana Bread:

So unlike most, I had January 3rd off. I had over ripened bananas and thought what better to do with my time than try a new banana bread recipe. Banana bread and muffins are my arch nemesis; they never turn out as good as I would like them to. This one came from Heirloom Baking with The Brass Sisters(thank you PC for this awesome cookbook) and all I did was add a touch of cinnamon along with the nutmeg it called for. It is my opinion that cinnamon and bananas baked together just work. They turned out better than most banana baked goods I make and I would definitely use this recipe again.

My mom and I enjoyed one loaf as she was up this past weekend and hopefully the homeless man on the corner in DC enjoyed the other. My thought being homeless people need to eat. I enjoy baking, but should not eat all that I bake, so why not share.

Banana Bread Recipe:

1 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup egg substitute or 1 egg beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)

1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray one 9-inch by 5-inch by 3-inch loaf pan or two 8-inch by 4-inch by 2 1/2-inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray then coat with flour.

2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

3. Cream butter, brown sugar and sugar with a whisk or hand mixer. Add the eggs and then bananas, mixing after each addition until thoroughly incorporated. Mix in sifted dry ingredients; be careful not to over mix.

4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (If you choose to use two small loaf pans, bake between 35-40 minutes.) Cool on rack. Store covered 2-4 days in plastic wrap and then in a plastic bag or container. Delicious slightly warmed with butter.

My try at Montage Salted Caramel Cupcakes:

In my office we celebrate everyones birthday. They chose what they want, type of cake, dessert, etc. and I try my hand at it. This past fall at a meeting at The Montage in Laguna Beach a co-worker of mine had the most delicious cupcakes made for her, for her anniversary. The cupcakes had this delicious chocolate twist on top, with crunch silver sprinkles, creamy, fluffy salted caramel frosting, delicious light and airy vanilla cupcakes with a sweet caramel candy treat inside. This was my attempt, my weak attempt. The frosting did turn out smooth and fluffy, but the cake was too moist and unfortunately the caramel inside did not fully melt. All the same there are parts I would do again and a few things I would change. Enjoy!

I took your standard caramel candies and cut them in half and coated them with a little four so they would not sink to the bottom while baking. Next time I will cut them in quarters.

Preparing the caramel for the salted caramel frosting.

The longer you let it go, the darker your caramel will turn out, and ultimately the darker the frosting. Just don't let it burn.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes Recipe:
Tip: Get the butter out for the frosting before beginning to prepare the cupcakes, so that the butter has time to soften

Vanilla Cupcakes: (Recipe courtsey of cookinglight.com - Yellow Sheet Cake)

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cups egg substitute or two eggs, beaten at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk at room temperature
1 dozen caramels cut in half and lightly coated with A.P. Flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line cupcake tin with liners and spray with cooking spray.

3. Combine 1/2 cup melted butter and sour cream in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla, beat until well blended. Add egg substitute, beat until well blended.

4. Dry ingredients: Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to wet ingredients, beginning and ending with flour mixture, so not over beat. Spoon a teaspoon full of batter into muffin tin. Place one half caramel in the center of each cake. Cover caramel with cake batter filling each liner 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes; until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, just don't forget about the melted caramel in the center. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes and remove from tin to cooling rack.

Salted Caramel Buttercream: (courtesy of:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups powdered sugar

1. In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.

2. With a hand mixer, beat softened butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed. Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Frost cupcakes once fully cooled. Do not stick these cupcakes in the refrigerator to store, simply store in an airtight container and room temp.

Salted Chocolate:

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Using a double boiler over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips, stirring slowly and making sure not to burn.

2. Pour melted chocolate on to a jelly roll pan or any flat pan that is small enough to fit in the freezer but still a good size. Spread chocolate using a spatula, cover the pan until the chocolate layer is approximately 1 millimeter thick. Cover evenly with sea salt and place in freezer for between 25 minutes to an hour.

3. Remove from freezer and cut chocolate using a pizza cutter in desired shapes and sizes; place on top of frosted cupcakes. Enjoy!

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