But when my neighbors down the hall invited me to their Oscars party, I couldn't say no. I first got to know them after I'd been stood up on a blind date -- I rode up the elevator with one of them, she asked me how my night was, I told her, and she replied, "Ugh. Come over and have wine with us." Not only did I have wine, but I had their leftover scallops with fig reduction drizzled beautifully on a white plate and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert. Plus they listened to me go on and on about how much I hate men in this city. So I couldn't say no to an Oscars party, even if it meant being really tired the next day.
They said they'd provide food, but I had to bring something. All I had was old bananas and rum. Thanks to Pinterest (well, really Betty Crocker, but I'm trying to plug my Pinterest here), I found the perfect solution!
Bananas Foster Cupcakes
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2 medium)
- 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
- 3/4 cup dulce de leche (from 13.4-oz can)
- 1 cup butter, softened
- Rum Butter-Cream Frosting
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
- 3/4 teaspoon rum extract
- Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 30 regular-size muffin cups.
- Make Cupcakes. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute. Add bananas and rum extract; beat on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
- Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely before filling and frosting, about 30 minutes.
- In center of each cooled cupcake, cut out a cone shape 3/4 inch in diameter on top by 3/4 inch deep, using a sharp paring knife. Cut off pointed end of each cone, reserving tops. Fill each cavity with about 1 teaspoon dulce de leche; cover with reserved tops, pressing in lightly.
- Make Rum-Buttercream Frosting. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar slowly, beating on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 1 minute or until incorporated. Add 2 tablespoons milk and 3/4 teaspoon rum extract, beating until light and fluffy. Add a few drops food coloring at a time, beating between additions, until desired color is achieved. (If frosting is too thick, beat in remaining 1 tablespoon milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency.)
- For the most part I stuck to the recipe, except:
- 1) I used Myer's Dark Rum instead of rum extract. It was leftover from a tiramisu experiment (that was aaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwesome). I'm not a good baker because I hate measuring, so instead of figuring out how much rum instead of rum extract to use (probably should have been half of what the recipe called for), I added extra. This proved to be good and bad -- bad because the cupcakes caved in, but good because cutting out a cone shape in the cupcakes was super annoying. Instead I just put a dollop of the dulce de leche on the top where it caved in.
- 2) I beat the dry cake mix for 3 minutes before I added the wet ingredients. This is a trick I learned from my mother -- somehow it makes the cake denser. I don't love boxed cake mixes because they are so light yet full of calories. It feels like I'm being jipped. This way, it's closer to a Sprinkles (Sprinkles is still superior of course, but it's a nice alternative).
- 3) I made my own dulce de leche. This was the most challenging ingredient. I couldn't find it at the grocery store, and my Internet search led me to Williams Sonoma where a jar of it costs $11. Thanks to WikiHow, I found out you can make your own with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Simply poke holes in the top, place in a pot of simmering water, and keep the water level up and simmering for three to four hours. Time consuming, yes, but at $1.79 a can, it's worth it. After three hours the milk become gelatinous, and when you get it to the consistency you want, dump it in a bowl and whisk it then refrigerate. Done.
- Also, if you've never made your own icing, you're doing it wrong. Homemade icing is so easy and it's soooooooo much better than store bought.
- Needless to say, the cupcakes were a hit at the Oscars party and were a happy addition to the the Asian pork lettuce wraps with all kinds of fixins my gourmet chef neighbors had made (I ate at least four). Plus, I got bonus points with my coworkers with the second batch, giving me a pass on basically being a zombie today.
- (P.S. Am I the only one who's never heard of "Hugo"? I thought "The Artist" was going to sweep last night!)