4 very ripe large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups), plus sliced bananas for garnish
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Caramel Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 large egg whites (at room temperature)
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
Cupcakes: In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about
3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the banana and buttermilk
mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the pecans. You can leave
out a small amount of chopped pecans to sprinkle on the tops if desired.
Scrape sides of bowl. Divide the batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
When cupcakes are cool, frost tops with caramel buttercream. Frosted cupcakes
will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to three days. Top with banana slices
Caramel Buttercream Frosting: Bring sugar and the water to a boil in a medium
saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from
forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is dark amber. Remove from heat and add
cream slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. When cool, fold in Swiss
Swiss Meringue Buttercream: In a heatproof bowl, place the sugar and egg whites.
Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved
and mixture registers 160 degrees, about 6 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment,
beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy
peaks, about 10 minutes.
Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated. If the buttercream
appears curdled after all the butter has been added, don't worry. It will become
smooth again with continued beating. Add the vanilla extract, and beat just until
Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any
air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl
with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer
to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator, up to three days. Before
using, bring buttercream to room temperature and beat on the lowest speed with the
paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.