Love and Olive Oil

Caramel Banana Cupcakes

Banana Caramel Cupcakes

After our delicious Valentine’s day dessert of caramelized bananas, I’ve had caramel and banana on the brain. It’s such a rich and satisfying combination, one that I thought would translate perfectly into cupcakes.

However, I had a dilemma. A sugar dilemma. My fear of sugar may have delayed these delicious cupcakes longer than necessary. A few bad experiences with cooked sugar and I’m scarred for life. So no way was I going to attempt to make my own caramel for these cupcakes.

Eventually, though, I decided that there was no need to actually make caramel, when there are plenty of commercial ice cream sauces available. Simply open the jar, drizzle, and done. No cooked sugar needed. Perfect!

I also picked up a little bottle of caramel flavoring, again with the idea of avoiding cooking caramel myself. I added a few drops of the potent stuff to the batter. Nothing intense, but just enough to give the cake that much more depth of flavor.

Caramel Banana Cupcakes

My buttercream separated just a bit… I got overzealous with the softening of the butter, and once butter has been partially liquefied, well, you really can’t un-do it. I have realized, though, that I had been putting way too much sugar in my buttercream. Using a higher proportion of butter to sugar, adding more soymilk, and then whipping the heck out of it makes a much lighter, fluffier, and slightly less-sweet buttercream. I’m getting better at it, but I’ve still got a ways to go before I’ve mastered the ‘perfect’ frosting.

And psst! This cupcake recipe has been entered in the Cupcake Hero: Banana contest for the month of September (see the entries). Wish me luck! More info about Cupcake Hero.

Caramel Banana Cupcakes with Easy Caramel Buttercream

Makes 20 cupcakes.

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1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups plain soymilk
2 1/8 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

For Frosting:
1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons soymilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons caramel topping


Preheat the oven to 350º. Line muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

Combined apple cider vinegar and soymilk in small bowl. Stir well and set aside (the mixture will curdle).
In a bowl, mash banana with canola oil until incorporated. Add extracts and mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the curdled soymilk and banana mixtures to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, whip butter with electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add milk, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons caramel, and beat 3-5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Add more sugar if needed to achieve proper consistency. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Drizzle with remaining caramel and enjoy!

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  1. Loved it.
    made it today with a few simple substitutions.
    great result. :)

  2. Hi there! I just discovered your website and I love it! A few questions though (please bear with me), I noticed that you do not use eggs in your cupcake recipes. And could I use regular milk instead of coconut milk? Most of your cupcake recipes use coconut milk. Thank you!

  3. i am a cupcake freak. i made these tonight and the banana cake was great but my frosting separated beyond repair. i used margarine :( the kids still ate 4 each tho.

  4. Yum! your website is beautiful…cant wait to try out some of these recipes!

  5. Great-looking cuppin cakes! I feel ya, cooked sugar can go wrong really quickly. I like to use dulce de leche when I want a caramel flavor.

  6. I love the combination of banana and caramel – great job on the cupcake!

  7. Great cupcake hero entry! Your photos are beautiful :)

  8. You know what would be good on this recipe? To poke a few holes in the tops of the cupcakes and drizzle some caramel over the top. Cover the holes with the frosting and you’d have super moist yummy cupcakes. I have a cake that I do this to and it’s fabulous! I’m gonna try these!

  9. Great recipe! I cut the caramel in the frosting in half, and added half a salted caramel in the center of the cake itself. It was a pretty tasty variation.

  10. These are the second best cupcakes on this site. Just phenomenal

  11. I won’t be making these again for a long time… Today, I ate 5….5!!! These are the most heavenly banana cupcakes on the face of the earth! The whole batch lasted exactly one and a half days in my house. Even my brother in law who thinks all things vegan must be gross loved them! I’m bringing these to the potluck at my school so I can wow everyone with my (your) baking talent!!

    p.s. I subbed rice milk and safflower oil cause that’s what I had and it worked great!

  12. Caramel and bananas are such a great combination,very beautiful!

  13. Hi Kerri – Yup, you got it! Either milk with vinegar or buttermilk with no vinegar. Keep in mind though, I’ve never made these with real milk or buttermilk, so the results could be unexpected. Good luck and let me know how they turn out. :)

  14. So, then I could use the same amount of “regular” milk (and vinegar) in place of the soymilk, or just use buttermilk (with no vinegar)? Just want to make sure I have this straight before I set out to make these!!! Thanks so much for another amazing recipe…

  15. Hi Jenny! The vinegar curdles the soymilk, making it a good substitute for buttermilk and/or eggs in most recipes. :) You can also use regular milk with a bit of vinegar as a replacement for buttermilk. A nice trick (since who ever has buttermilk on hand?), and no one can tell the difference.

  16. I love these! You have the best cupcake recipes, and pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Again, because I have been new to your blog…I’m just noticing how you use the soymilk/vinegar combo often…just curious how well that works. Like, even for substituting in other recepies??

  18. Just found your blog and wanted to say it’s really special.

  19. Beautiful photo. Looks delicious!

  20. Ok, I think I could just camp out on your website. I have thorougly enjoyed surfing through… both your pictures and your recipes are enticing ~ I will have to try some on my next baking day!

  21. Super yummy – woweee!

  22. What wonderful cupcakes! I love bananas and caramel together.

  23. What a great way to avoid sugar disaster and get the perfect caramel flavor! These cupcakes look divine, and talk about stellar flavor combinations. Your buttercream looks perfect to me!

  24. Caramel and bananas are such a great combination. Thanks for reminding me of that fact.

  25. Jenny –

    I am able to eat butter since it’s mostly milk fat and very little lactose. However, all these recipes will work fine with a good quality vegan margarine. You might also want to do part margarine part shortening, for a little better texture. :) Definitely doable!

  26. thanks for the recipe! i’ve been wanting to make vegan cupcakes with caramel buttercream for ages!

  27. Your recipes are amazing and I enjoy that you tell how to make them dairy free. My brother and sister can’t have dairy and we like to cook together. You use soy milk in these but you still use butter. Are you actually using butter or is that just what they call for? Do you use margarine?

  28. Can I use regular milk or cream instead of soy?

  29. I saw that cake. :) Delicious, and you’re brave enough to make your own caramel. Bravo! I’m guessing you could use the buttercream recipe I used above, but substitute in your own salted caramel for my store-bought caramel sauce. It’d probably be divine!

  30. Lovely! I recently made a salted caramel frosting. It wasn’t stiff enough to decorate with but, oh man, was it good. I would love to be able to capture it’s flavor in a frosting that sets up as well as yours does here. And that caramel banana cake flavors sounds intensely good too!

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