Banana Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

June  9, 2021
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Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 12 cupcakes
Author Notes

What’s the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? For me, the answer is easy: frosting. If I bake my banana bread recipe in a muffin pan, it’s a muffin. But if I put frosting on it’s a cupcake! I’m sure there are plenty of people who'd disagree with me, but I happen to love dense banana cake in cupcake form—particularly when paired with a gooey dulce de leche core and a creamy caramel frosting. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and pointing out all the mistakes to avoid along the way. Today, cupcakes galore—the very funnest dessert! —The Editors

What You'll Need
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Banana Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
  • 2 large peeled bananas (270 grams)
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (159 grams) light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (113 grams), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) finely chopped dark chocolate (optional)
  • Filling and Finishing
  • 1 1/2 cups (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (400 grams) prepared dulce de leche, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) vanilla extract
  • Fine sea salt, to taste and/or flaky sea salt, for finishing
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners, or grease the cavities lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas using a fork or a potato masher. Stir in the yogurt and vanilla and set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together to combine.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium-low speed until well combined. Scrape the bowl well after each addition.
  4. Add half of the banana mixture and mix to combine. Add all of the flour and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well, then add the remaining banana mixture and chocolate (if using) and mix to combine.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan using an ice cream scoop, filling each cavity three-quarters full.
  6. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs, 17 to 20 minutes. Cool completely.
  7. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the butter on medium speed until it is very light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl well about halfway through whipping. The butter should be lighter in color and visibly aerated.
  8. Add 2 cups (320 grams) of dulce de leche about ½ cup (80 grams) at a time, in four additions. Whip the dulce de leche into the butter on medium speed and scrape the bowl well once it’s fully incorporated before adding the next addition.
  9. When the two are fully combined, add the vanilla. If topping with flaky salt, add about ½ teaspoon (2 grams) of fine sea salt to the frosting. If you’re not using flaky salt, you can add up to 1 teaspoon (4 grams), or to taste. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip.
  10. Using a small (1-inch/2½-centimeter) cookie cutter, the larger side of a piping tip, or a paring knife to cut a small circle of cake out of the center of each cupcake. (Eat this cake for a snack!)
  11. Transfer the remaining ½ cup (80 grams) of the dulce de leche to a pastry bag and pipe about 2 teaspoons into the center of each cupcake, allowing any excess to form a little dome if it rises above the surface of the cupcake.
  12. Pipe the frosting on top of each cupcake, starting by piping a ring around the outside edge, then working upward in a spiral (you should fully cover any of the dulce de leche in the center). If using, top each with a sprinkling of flaky salt just before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

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