Several years ago we spent a week making banana muffins. We tried recipe after recipe in search of the very best banana muffins. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder but we made a lot of very good muffins. We agreed on one thing—we wanted a lot of banana flavor in our muffins. That took two things: really ripe bananas and added banana flavor.
We recently revisited our banana muffins. We transformed banana muffins from a breakfast bread to a dessert or at least, a sweet brunch treat. We covered the tops with salted caramel and served them with dollops of whipped cream in flavors like caramel, butterscotch, and banana. When we served them in our store, I asked Ben (our sales manager) how people liked them. He responded, “They’re going crazy--like we need to call security.” We don’t have security; we barely have a county sheriff. But people sure loved these banana muffins.
So take your favorite banana muffins. Top them with three-ingredient caramel. Sprinkle them with salt crystals. Add some flavored whipped cream. You’re a hero.
Our Best Banana Muffin Recipe
For us, the perfect banana muffin is very banana-rich but still light and cake-like and with a high dome. With very ripe bananas and added banana flavor, this is just about perfect.
Click here to learn more about this recipe and making banana muffins.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon banana flavor
1 cup pecan or walnut pieces
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
How to Make Salted Caramel with Only Three Ingredients plus Salt
Genuine caramel can be made with only three ingredients: Cream, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Mix it together and boil it. Simple. We usually double the recipe to make a big batch--you can’t have too much caramel.
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
A candy thermometer is the way to go the first few times you make caramel unless you are already familiar with candy making. I don’t bother; I find the thermometer gets in the way of my stirring. It’s easy to put a little caramel on a spoon and ease the spoon into a cup of cold water. When cooked, the caramel will cool to a soft ball.
If you want to make a caramel sauce, don’t cook it quite so long, maybe 220 degrees. You can thin your caramel with a bit of cream. If you want a firmer caramel, cook it a bit longer.
I guarantee that after two times, you’ll be comfortable making caramel and you’ll find a lot of uses for it: a topping on desserts and on ice cream; caramel candies and caramel apples.
How to Make Flavored Whipped Cream
Never settle for plain whipped cream. It’s so easy to make very special whipped cream. Often it’s as simple as adding a flavor to the whipped cream. Sometimes you’ll want to sweeten your whipped cream with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. We often add lemon zest to lemon whipped cream and orange zest to orange whipped cream. The zest adds a little flavor and the colored flecks are pretty.
For your banana muffins, we recommend banana, caramel, butterscotch, or brown sugar whipped cream.
Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the sugar and flavor and continue whipping.
To Assemble Your Banana Muffins
Chances are your caramel will be too thick to cover the top smoothly and drizzle down the sides. That’s fine. Push a large spoonful of caramel off the spoon onto the top of the muffin. Zap it in the microwave until the muffin is warm and the caramel starts to melt (about 12 seconds). Sprinkle it with optional salt crystals. Use the salt sparingly.
Add a dollop of flavored whipped cream. Don’t bother trying to stack the whipped cream on the top of the warm muffin; it will just slide off. We use a large ice cream scoop and place it next to the muffin.
Brace yourself. People will go nuts over this.
Thanks for reading this article. Dennis Weaver is the founder (with his wife Merri Ann) and president of The Prepared Pantry. He has worked as a baker and has written extensively about baking. Don’t forget to get his free downloadable 250 page baking book, How to Bake.It contains the information that culinary schools teach professional bakers and will improve your baking.