Banana & Salted Caramel Cupcakes (Vegan & Gluten-Free)
Are you a fan of banana desserts? I know I am! What’s even better is when banana is combined with caramel – it’s a match made in heaven! These moist and fluffy banana cupcakes are topped with a velvety salted caramel buttercream and a drizzle of homemade salted caramel sauce. These vegan cupcakes are gluten-free, nut-free, and they’re incredibly quick and easy to prepare. If you’re a lover of banana and caramel desserts, you’ll love these cupcakes!
Baking is one of my passions, so I’m always experimenting with new recipes and baking methods. One thing that is relatively new to me is gluten-free baking. I’ve eaten quite a few gluten-free cakes over the years and I find that they can sometimes be a little dry or a little too crumbly, but I’m pleased to say that these cupcakes were neither!
WHY MAKE THESE GLUTEN-FREE BANANA & SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES?
They’re incredibly easy to make – just bake the cupcakes, whip up some buttercream and caramel and construct!
This recipe is a great way to transform those over-ripe bananas into a special treat.
These cupcakes are moist and fluffy - You’d never know this recipe was gluten-free!
You don’t need any fancy baking equipment to make this recipe.
ARE THESE CUPCAKES SUITABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH NUT ALLERGIES OR COELIAC DISEASE?
These cupcakes are 100% nut-free and gluten-free, though nobody would know just by tasting them. Preventing cross-contamination is incredibly important if you’re Coeliac or have a nut allergy, or you’re baking these cupcakes for someone who is, so make sure that all of ingredients used don’t have any possible traces of nut or gluten-containing ingredients – always look out for the ‘may contain’ label!
INGREDIENTS FOR THESE CUPCAKES
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe – consider it your shopping list!
Gluten-Free Flour - I used the plain, gluten-free flour by Creative Nature, but you can use any gluten-free, plain flour alternative of your choice.
Ripe bananas - Make sure to use ripe bananas! As bananas ripen, they get softer and much sweeter, this is what gives these cupcakes their delicious flavour and texture.
Caster Sugar - Caster sugar dissolves quicker in the batter so this is what I use for most of my baking recipes, but you could use granulated white sugar instead.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda - These additional raising agents will lighten the texture of the cupcakes and help them to rise better.
Sunflower or Vegetable Oil - I prefer to use oil rather than butter when baking cakes because the oil contributes to moistness much more reliably, this is because oil remains liquid at room temperate while butter solidifies. I find that cakes made with oil tend to be softer and much moister.
FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL:
Caster or granulated Sugar - I wouldn’t recommend you use any other kind of sugar.
Vanilla extract - The vanilla extract is what gives the caramel sauce it’s delicious flavour.
Coconut cream - the cream is what turns the caramel into a smooth and silky sauce. You could use other plant-based creams such as oat or soya cream instead.
Salt - the salt will add a delicious depth of flavour to the caramel and it’ll help to balance the sweetness.
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:
Icing Sugar - You will need icing sugar to add sweetness to the buttercream.
Salted caramel sauce - you can make homemade caramel sauce, but if you’d like to skip this step, shop-bought caramel sauce works just as well.
Vegan butter - I've used the Flora plant-based butter block, but any vegan butter will do.
CAN I USE SHOP-BOUGHT CARAMEL SAUCE?
Absolutely! I know not everyone is keen on making homemade caramel, so you can skip this step and use 4-5 tablespoons of shop-bought caramel sauce and a pinch of salt in the buttercream.
TIPS FOR MAKING GLUTEN-FREE BANANA & SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES
*Make sure to use ripe bananas! As bananas ripen, they get softer and much sweeter, this is what gives these cupcakes their delicious texture and flavour. I wouldn’t recommend making these cupcakes with firm, green bananas as they just won’t work in the same way.
*If you have more over ripened bananas than this recipe requires, you can freeze the whole bananas in their skins and then defrost them when you need them for another recipe.
*Do not increase the baking temperature in order to try and get the cupcakes to bake quicker – the cupcakes will bake unevenly and they may become hard or dry.
*Gently tapping the muffin tray on a surface after you’ve poured in the cake batter will help to remove any air gaps - this will help the cupcakes to bake more evenly.
*Do not add cold coconut cream to the caramel sauce. I’d recommend heating the coconut cream before adding it to the melted sugar as this will create a smoother texture and will make it easier to combine.
*If you have any leftover caramel sauce, you can add it to a jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week.
STORING THE CUKCAKES
I find that gluten-free baked goods have a tendency to dry out faster, so these cupcakes taste best when they’re fresh. If you’d like to store them, simply place them in an airtight container and they’ll stay good for up to two days at room temperature.
HOW TO MAKE BANANA & SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F, Gas Mark 4). Sift the flour into a large bowl along with the sugar, baking soda and baking powder and whisk until well combined.
Add the ripe bananas to a bowl and mash with a fork until you get a smooth puree. Add the banana puree and the oil to the bowl with the flour and stir until the batter is smooth.
Line a cupcake tray with muffin liners and add about 1 heaped tbsp. of the batter into each cupcake case.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Place the cupcakes onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool down completely before adding the buttercream on top.
In the meantime, make the salted caramel. Add the sugar to a non-stick pan and melt on a medium heat until it becomes golden. Gradually add the heated coconut cream and whisk continually until the caramel becomes smooth and creamy. Stir in the salt and vanilla and set aside to cool.
Beat the vegan butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar, a pinch of salt and 4-5 tablespoons of the caramel sauce and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and decorate with a drizzle of caramel sauce.