I do love meeting new people and making new friends but it can be incredibly hard to do, especially when you don’t know anyone or are starting over in a new place. I’m going to be doing exactly that next year and I am nervous about it but thinking about the friends I’ve made here I know I’ll be ok. One thing I’ve found that can help if you’re wanting to meet new people is to join a sports group or club. In my case it was starting a Zumba class. I did some casual classes initially but once I started going regularly I met some amazing ladies who are a lot of fun. One of these ladies recently turned 60 and she is truly inspiring. She’s at class each week, even getting on stage to help teach. Honestly if I have half her energy when I’m her age I’ll be impressed.
To celebrate her birthday I made these cupcakes and we shared them with some champagne after class. They’re moist and full of banana flavour which pairs really well with the Nutella frosting. The frosting is based on a Sweetapolita recipe and is so light and creamy. I used a salt-reduced butter to offset the sweetness a little which helped prevent a sugar overload.
The caramel goes fantastic with the banana but unfortunately the lollies I used were too heavy and sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes. To avoid this use smaller pieces of caramels or cut them up and mix them through the batter. The other option is to melt them down and make a caramel sauce to fill the cupcakes or swirl though. I topped my cupcakes with leftover praline but this is completely optional and just adds a bit of crunch.
Banana and Caramel Cupcakes
8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz caster sugar
8 oz self raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz banana puree
Preheat the oven to 170° and prepare your cupcake cases. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and bananas and stir through. Fold in the flour until just combined.
Spoon the batter into cupcake cases until just under half full. Add a caramel to each cupcake and top with more batter to cover. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Adapted from Sweetapolita
8 oz salt-reduced butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz dark chocolate, melted
In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix the Nutella, vanilla and melted chocolate together then add to the butter mixture. Continue beating until completely combined and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.