My cousin Mike & his lovely wife Heather live in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Mike is a police officer. Mike’s dad Tom is my mom’s cousin, but they share the exact same DNA since they both have the same family on both sides; you see, my mom’s father Clarence’s (nicknamed Butch) sister Eleanor married my mom’s mother Agnes’ brother (Frank)! They’re doubly related, so me & Mike are doubly related as well. Got it? If you didn’t follow any of that, I apologize, here’s a picture that can hopefully help:
That photo is from Eleanor & Frank’s wedding in the late 1940’s. As you can see, my grandfather & Mike’s grandmother were siblings, and my grandmother & Mike’s grandfather were also siblings. So Eleanor & Frank are the grandparents of my aforementioned cousin Mike, and in turn are the parents of my mother’s cousin Tom. Agnes & Butch are my grandparents, a.k.a. the parents of my mother. Make sense now? I hope so, because I really don’t want to break out the pie charts & graphs. Either way, our family tree only has one branch on this particular side, haha.
Anyway, Mike & Heather sent a care package to me & my mom a few weeks back from a (seemingly) awesome store down there called Roux Royale. We each got a mug, a pair of adorable salt & pepper shakers and this awesome cake plate!
Can you tell I’m a bit in love with the photography apps on my iPhone?
Because I’m inspired by everything, this beautiful cake plate gave me the urge to bake something fantastic to put on it. Although I kept looking at it and rethinking what I was going to do. I’ve made King’s Cake cupcakes before, so I didn’t want to do that. Even though that’s where the natural progression of thoughts went, it’s taboo to bake it before Jan. 6th or after Mardi Gras. I’ve also made beignets, and as good as they are, I recently had a gigantic serving of them from the Grand Lux Cafe which satisfied my craving, plus I wasn’t sure they were really appropriate for display on this cake plate.
Mmm… Grand Lux beignets… *sigh* …. anyway back to reality…
Then I remembered that famous New Orleans dessert, Bananas Foster. Ahh, the lovely Bananas Foster. It originated down there in NOLA at a famous place called Brennan’s, so what better dessert to display on that New Orleans cake plate!?
Bananas Foster is a dessert made from bananas and vanilla ice cream, with the sauce made from butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur. The butter, sugar and bananas are cooked, and then the alcohol is added and ignited. The bananas and sauce are then served over the ice cream. Preparation of the dish is often made into a tableside performance as a flambé.
The dish was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was named for Richard Foster, a friend of Owen Brennan‘s who was then New Orleans Crime Commission chairman. It is still served at a number of fine restaurants in New Orleans as well as in many restaurants around the world.
Brennan’s is really, really famous. It’s in the French Quarter. The head chef, Lazone Randolph, has been featured on more TV shows than Rachael Ray. Well not quite, but almost. Along with Cafe Du Monde, it’s seemingly one of those tourist places that screams New Orleans.
So yeah, I figured Bananas Foster was a perfect idea. Besides, my family is a bit bananas, so it’s even more appropriate! I love them, don’t get me wrong. I love them & they’re pretty much wonderful, but they’re mostly insane. Which helps to make them wonderful. If everyone was sane, wouldn’t the world be a boring place? I’m sure this concept has been done to death, but this is my version of Bananas Foster cupcakes. Easy, not a lot of drama, and no tableside fire action… but the end result does look & taste far more complicated. And it doesn’t melt, unlike the ice cream in the traditional, original version. I even had some cupcake liners left over from last year that were very similar to the cake plate’s design. How do you like them
To avoid the dense, heavy cupcakes that using real bananas cause, I used banana extract. I don’t care if Florian Bellanger would disapprove. They came out amazing, so he can suck an egg. I mean that in the most respectful way, of course. They’re moist, fluffy, but not dense & thick. I’m including a recipe for a gorgeous, thick, creamy caramel made from condensed milk as well. If you’d like to use that (I didn’t) you could spoon it over the frosting, over the caramelized bananas or even on the cupcakes before you frost them. I thought the flavor of the bananas themselves was enough… but if you want a really decadent over the top cupcake… go for it.
BANANAS FOSTER CUPCAKES
- Caramelized bananas (recipe below), cooled
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk caramel (optional, see here for recipe)
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon pure banana extract
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg, room temperature
- few drops yellow food coloring (if desired)
- Set oven to 375° F to preheat. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Sift together, into a deep mixing bowl, the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter, ¼ cup of the milk and flavorings. Beat on low until blended, then beat on high for another minute or two.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the remaining ¼ cup milk, egg, and food coloring (if using) and beat ½ minute longer on high. Scoop into muffin tins to fill them about ¼ or ½ way because they rise a lot. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick/cake tester comes out almost totally clean. Cool completely.
- Frost with evaporated milk buttercream frosting (recipe below), then drizzle condensed milk caramel on top with the tines of a fork or a small teaspoon. Top each cupcake with one or two caramelized bananas, and if desired, a bit more caramel.
Confession time. Okay, my confession here is this: as you can see below, I did not use pure banana extract like I recommended. I used Watkins‘ imitation banana extract. However, unless you use Watkins, I’d go with pure. The Watkins flavor is really good & not overly fake or sweet, I know sometimes supermarket extracts can be a bit strong at times, in a bad way.
EVAPORATED MILK FROSTING
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 4 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 2 ½ ounces evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Cream together the butter, vanilla and 2 cups of the powdered sugar.
- Once well incorporated, add evaporated milk alternating with a cup of sugar at a time until all ingredients have been added. Beat on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Spread or pipe on completely cooled cupcakes.
Gotta have some cafe au lait with them, of course…
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Spray a non-stick frying pan and a ceramic plate with cooking spray (or waxed paper or parchment on the plate instead), and heat the pan up over medium heat.
- Mix sugar & cinnamon together in a shallow dish. Dip each banana slice in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Make sure they’re completely coated.
- Using a fork or small tongs, place bananas in pan as they’re ready. Cook until golden-brown, then flip. The first side will take a few minutes, the second side a bit less. Do not let them burn! If you see them getting too dark, sticking to the pan or smell a burning smell- flip them immediately! Keep an eye on them.
- When finished, place on coated plate (bananas will be sticky). Let cool before topping cupcakes.
If you choose to use it, you may need to soften the condensed milk caramel a bit before drizzling it, depending how warm your kitchen is, etc. In that case, place the can, open side up (obviously) in a small saucepan of simmering water (only about one inch- don’t get the caramel wet!) for a few minutes, stirring fairly constantly, until it softens enough. I didn’t feel as if I needed it, but it would make a lovely addition. You could even fill them with it- that would be divine.
Proper “Nu Awlins” cupcakes for a proper “Nu Awlins” cake platter. Thanks again, Mike & Heather, for my newest additions! They’ll be well used around here, as there’s always some kind of baked goods out for display.