Earlier this month, my dad threw my mom a huge surprise birthday party. My brother, sister and I all love food and entertaining, so we volunteered to plan the menu. Though we nailed down most of the elements pretty quickly, we were stuck on what to serve for dessert. Birthday cake was out of the question - I've never known my mom to get particularly excited for cake. In fact, she's notorious for skipping dessert altogether! None of us wanted to see her skip dessert at her own party; we wanted to come up with something she would truly love.
Mom is the original bread pudding fan in our family, and bananas foster is one of the only desserts I have ever seen her order in a restaurant. However, neither bread pudding or bananas foster are particularly party-friendly. Because we had so much other food to arrange, I wanted to make single-serving desserts that weren't too fussy and didn't need to be cut or dished out onto plates. The perfect solution? Cupcakes!
I've made bread pudding "cupcakes" for parties before, so I played around with a couple of ideas and ended up with the recipe below. They were a big hit with the party guests - but the biggest compliment of all came from mom, who not only ate a whole cupcake at the party but kept all the leftovers for herself!
Recipe: Bananas Foster Bread Pudding "Cupcakes"
3 ripe bananas
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 loaf day-old cinnamon bread
3 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
Cut bread into small cubes with a large serrated knife (for cupcakes, smaller cubes are better - half an inch or so is perfect). If your loaf of bread is not stale, spread the cubed bread on a baking sheet and toast briefly under a broiler until dry.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bananas, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 tbsp cinnamon.
Cook until bananas are tender, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In food processor, blend the eggs, milk, whipping cream, 2/3 cup of brown sugar, cooked bananas, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the bread cubes with a spatula until bread is fully soaked in liquid, then stir in the pecans. Press down on mixture with a spatula; cover and refrigerate in a large bowl or a baking dish for at least an hour or up to overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300F. Divide pudding between lightly greased, lined muffin tins.
I like the metal liner cups best; any sauce served over the top won't soak through to a party guest's fingers. (Plus, they're shiny. And festive!)
Bake for 35-40 minutes until puffed, golden, and just set (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean).
Spoon rum sauce over the top to serve. Makes about 32 cupcakes.
Rum Caramel1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons dark rum
Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cream, sugar and salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in rum and serve immediately alongside or overtop bread puddings.