There are 2 ways to infuse the banana cupcake with caramel – add it to the batter (take away some of the sugar while you’re at it) or swirl it in the batter (in the cupcake pan) right before baking. I chose to add to the batter. Then to intensify the caramel-ness, the cupcakes were frosted with caramel buttercream.
To make your own caramel is not difficult, as long as enough you keep an eye on it. I remember when I first started to make caramel and I would always, always burn it, until a friend told me her secret. Nope, not using a thermometer… rather, the crucial equipment is a…. TIMER! The magic number? 7!
First, set your timer to 7 minutes. Then place 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, 1 teaspoon light corn syrup, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla paste in a thick-bottomed pot. (Add a pinch of salt if desired.) Set the heat to medium. Stir the mixture occasionally. Once the mixture boils, start your timer. Stir occasionally. When the timer beeps, turn off the heat. Let is cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a heat-resistant bottle. Cool completely. Store in the fridge for 4 to 5 weeks.
To make the caramel buttercream, beat 1 cup softened butter. Gradually add 1/2 cup to 1 cup powdered sugar (by spooonfuls). Stir in 1/2 cup caramel; beat a couple of minutes, or until fluffy (don’t over-do it.)