Thursday, June 16, 2011

Banana Caramel Cake in Phyllo Cups

In January this year, I was challenged to make a cupcake combining the 3 flavors of banana, caramel and phyllo dough. Certainly not a bad combo of flavors to be coerced into working with. The reason for the delay being the challenger of this flavor combo is not someone I see often, so am only now getting the opportunity to accept the request.

On another side note of importance, I have succumbed to the pressures of the many food bloggers out there, all with their pretty food pictures, and finally invested in a DSLR. And if the absolute joy in I felt in taking this evening's pictures is evidence, I think it may have been a good decision. If you're keeping tabs, it is a Canon Rebel T2i. I'd take a picture of it, but that would not only be tricky, requiring mirrors or something, but also a little "chicken or the egg" for me.

Anyway, back to cupcakes. Aside from them looking rather dashing, I wasn't wrong about the flavor combo being delectable. I tried a new banana cupcake batter this time (which, oh by the way has rum in it - yum), and whipped up some homemade caramel sauce for the occasion. Which if I haven't mentioned before, is pretty freaking easy and completely delicious, so why would you ever bother buying it?

Caramel Sauce
I've tried many variations of this before, and think I've landed on my favorite. Taken mostly from Simply Recipes (frankly, you might as well check out her instructions because she goes into way more detail and includes safety tips - I just leave you to your own devices!):

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbs butter, but into pieces
  • 1/2 cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

First off, do have all your ingredients ready to go before you start. In a heavy 2-3 quart pot, melt sugar over low to medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Once sugar has melted, it will be begin to darken into an amber color. This is where you get to choose how rich you want your sauce. Be careful to not let it burn though. Once it reaches the optimal caramel color, removed from heat and add in butter. It will foam up a bit. Whisk until smoother, then add in cream. This will really bubble up, and seize. Just work through it and keep whisking until it comes together. Let cool for a bit, then transfer to a glass jar or container to continue cooling.

Phyllo Cups
Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a small dish. Unroll one log of phyllo dough, placing one sheet upon a work surface (cutting board or cookie sheet will do), and brushing it all over with some of the melted butter. Add another sheet on top, and repeat the process so that you have about 5-6 layers of phyllo. Cut dough into squares that are roughly 2-3 inches wider than the cavities of a muffin tin. Or bigger, or smaller, or wider, or longer - whatever you think will look good. mold each square patch of phyllo into the cavities of every other hole of the muffin tin. Mine was overlapping a bit, so I didn't want to have issues with the phyllo getting stuck in cake batter or something like that, so just kept the spacing between them to be safe. I did have to repeat with another batch of 6 sheets of phyllo, but didn't end up using the entire log of dough.

Once the tins are prepped (I made 3 tins based on the amount of batter and layout mentioned above), make cupcake batter.

Banana Cupcakes
Stolen almost completely from Baking Obsession
2 cups flour

¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups banana puree (about 3 large bananas)
½ cup sour cream (I forgot to buy some, so used milk with a 1/2 tsp of white vinegar mixed in)
2 tbsp dark rum
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350˚

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, powder and salt and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream (or milk), rum and vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add in both sugars and beat until creamy, scraping down sides of the bowl at least once. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated.

In batches, mix in 1/3 flour mixture, then 1/2 liquid, flour, then liquid then flour until incorporated. Fold in banana puree.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill phyllo cups with dough and bake for 20 minutes. Phyllo should get nice a crispy in that time. Rotate pans halfway through if one side is getting browner than the other.

Let cupcakes cool while you make the frosting.

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Can't have Banana cupcakes without some kind of cream cheese frosting.

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tbs caramel sauce

Beat butter until creamy, then add in cream cheese and beat together, scraping down sides of the bowl at least once. Gradually add powdered sugar until mix gets thick and creamy, scraping down sides of the bowl still. Beat in caramel until smooth. Texture will probably be on the softer side, but isn't exactly runny. If you want a firmer frosting, reduce cream cheese quantity and bump up the butter a bit.

Top cupcakes with frosting, then swirl in caramel sauce on top. I attempted to fill a cupcake with caramel too, but it seemed like a bit too much. Maybe I was wrong and it would be insanely delicious. Give it a shot. Surely you could garnish these cupcakes with slices of ripe banana as well. I was too in love with the swirly pattern to let it be obstructed by anything.

I hope I win the challenge!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Arnold Palmer Cupcakes

While sipping on some ice tea this weekend, it occurred to me I hadn't ever tried making a tea cupcake before. I've thought extensively about making an Earl Grey flavor, cuz it's just the best tea ever ("Tea, Early Grey, Hot" of course), but still haven't gotten around to it.

But it is pretty much summer now, and that means iced tea is in order. While I enjoy my iced tea simply and unadorned, an Arnold Palmer is quite a refreshing twist, and a great excuse to use up some lemons I've been neglecting.

I didn't stray far from a traditional vanilla cupcake recipe, and probably could have used a higher concentration of tea to balance out the lemon (maybe seep 2 or 3 if you want the tea flavor to pop), but I think otherwise they came out quite tasty.

Black Tea Cupcake with Lemon Zest
1/3 c + 1 tsb milk
1 bag black tea
6 tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Line cupcake tin with 10-12 liners.

In small saucepan or microwave safe dish, heat milk to just boiling and seep tea bag until cooled.
Whisk together dry ingredients & zest in a small bowl.

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl and then add eggs, one at a time until incorporated.

Beginning and ending with flour mixture, alternate gradually incorporating milk and flour. Do not over mix.

Fill cupcake liners, then bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Lemon Frosting
1 stick butter, room temperature
1-1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tbs lemon zest
1-2 tbs lemon juice

Beat butter until creamy. Gradually add in powdered sugar until crumbly. Add in zest and juice until frosting is light and fluffy.

Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. I garnished a few with lemon slices, but candied lemon would probably stay better. Or none at all. I just thought they were pretty.