September 13, 2011

i've been aunted!

Yes, just as Sean Connery became Sir Sean Connery and Judy Dench became Dame Judy Dench, I shall henceforth be known as Aunt Grace Gigglebottom. (No, that's not my real last name, but wouldn't it be fun?)


My brother and his wife recently added a little, itty-bitty girl to their family, naming her Lydia (wait for it) Grace. Lydia Grace! Isn't it a lovely name? Apparently, my sister-in-law had been fond of the name long before she even knew my brother or me, but I'm still flattered and thrilled.


Some of you may be unfamiliar with the story of Lydia from the Bible. She was, among other things, a seller of purple. So, in honor of Lydia Grace, I made some cupcakes and topped them with glorious purple frosting (and sprinkles!). Yes, more cupcakes. Specifically, more banana cupcakes. This is a different recipe, though, and in my opinion, a better one. The crunch and flavor of the toasted pecans is marvelous, and the cake is much more tender than that of the one making use of roasted bananas. The rich, smooth, outstanding caramel buttercream certainly didn't hurt, either. Another win, Martha!


Banana Pecan Cupcakes with (Purple!) Caramel Buttercream
(twists and tweaks to this recipe)
(makes 28 cupcakes)

Cupcakes:
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Buttercream:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the banana mixture and ending with dry, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Stir in the pecans by hand. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

To make the buttercream, first bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is dark amber. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool.
Beat the butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place the whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. (Isn't the stand mixer a marvelous invention!?!) Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla.
Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, or cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

63 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Congrats to the parents and to you!

Those cupcakes look so pretty! Great flavors.

Cheers,

Rosa

Foodycat said...

Congratulations to your family! I think being an aunt is great - you occupy a very privileged position! Gorgeous cupcakes too.

Becki's Whole Life said...

Congrats on being "aunted" - it's definitely a big honor. The adds to this cupcake are spot on - pecans and caramel buttercream, yum:-) Love the purple, too!

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

The royal color of purple, the name Grace, and Martha? It doesn't get more regal than that. ;)

bellini said...

Congratulations Auntie Grace!!!!

Amish Stories said...

Looks so sweet it gave me goose bumps!. Richard

vanillasugarblog said...

awww congrats Madam Gigglebottom :-)

Barbara said...

What a wonderful aunt you're going to be! Congratulations! And welcome to the world, Lydia Grace! You have adorable pudgy hands. :)
You really must find a pale purple blanket for her, Grace!

Julie said...

Perfect cupcakes to celebrate little Lydia Grace. Many blessing to her for all her years to come :)

Mimi said...

Welcome to the world Lydia Grace! Congratulations on your AuntHood, Grace Gigglebottom. I hope that you live close enough to your brother and his family to enjoy the fun.
Mimi

Melanie said...

Congratulations on your new niece! The purple cupcakes are adorable as fitting the new little one, I am sure!

Sarah said...

Congrats on becoming an aunt! I can't wait until the day when my sister has kids and I can be an aunt! I love the name Lydia Grace - so precious! And the cupcakes... yummm. You can never go wrong with bananas. EVER.

Half Baked said...

Congratulations on your Aunthood! That cupcake seems like the perfect dessert for such an occasion;)Love the sweet picture of your nieces tiny hands too!

Sue/the view from great island said...

I'm sure your new little niece is adorable, and so are your purple cupcakes. The last time i made colorful cupcakes I remember that a nice purple is a hard color to nail. Yours is perfect.

Abby said...

Congratulations! Sweet name for a sweet baby who has a sweet aunt! I love the purple. That's been a hard color for me!

Marjie said...

Oh, the darling little baby fingers! And what a lovely name. I know she will love her Auntie Grace and purple cupcakes, especially the cupcakes with sprinkles.

Sophie said...

What a sweet dedication! Congrats to you and your brother's family. That purple is too pretty, the cupcakes sound perfectly sweet and delicious too :).

Laura Jeanne said...

So sweet! And of course I am referring to both that little precious button and your buttercream heaven!
Congratulations Auntie!!!
Laura @ A Healthy JalapeƱo

Jacqueline said...

Congraulations on becoming an auntie. Happy times lie ahead :)

Mrs. L said...

Congratulations to the new Auntie!

Sharon Graves said...

Congrats to you and the proud new parents! I'm a big fan of celebrating special occasions with cupcakes. Well done!

MaryBeth said...

Congrats to the new addition to the family and Grace is a fabulous name..I love the pretty purple color.

5 Star Foodie said...

congrats on becoming an aunt! Such scrumptious cupcakes, love the purple frosting!

Leslie said...

Congrats on the new addition to the family Aunt Gigglebottom!!

scrambledhenfruit said...

Awwww...such sweet baby fingers. :) Congratulations on the arrival of your new niece! Those cupcakes are a perfect way to celebrate. :)

Lisa-Marie said...

Baby fingers!! Congratulations Grace! I am happy that she has an aunt who will do her proud, both in making her the perfect cakes, and in being there for her I am sure! :)

Emily Malloy said...

Yaaay!!! Auntie Gigglebottom has a lovely ring to it!

Cupcakes are pure HEAVEN, sister. I mean, AUNT!

Gloria said...

Congrats to the parents and the Auntie! her fingers are sooo cute! I love babies! and cupcake is awesome!

tasteofbeirut said...

Congratulations! Being an aunt is a wonderful title and role; you will always be right and always be glamorous.
Lovely cupcakes love the whimsy of the color and sprinkles.

The Blonde Duck said...

Congrats!

~~louise~~ said...

Oh goodness, gracious me, you're an Aunt! How wonderful. I must say, I absolutely adore your new niece's name; Lydia Grace. It has a regal chime.

The cupcakes are stunning Grace. GREAT job!!!

Thank you so much for sharing the news and, those delicious looking cupcakes!

Hungry Dog said...

Congratulations, Grace! And that is a lovely name for your little niece. She is a lucky girl to have you as an aunt!

Emily said...

Congratulations, Auntie! Yayyy! And oh my goodness, these cupcakes look amazing!

Kerstin said...

Aww, congrats Grace, these cupcakes look like the perfect way to celebrate!

vianney/sweet life said...

congrats!! a yummy way to celebrate, love the sprinkles!!

Taste and Tell said...

Congratulations, and what a great way to celebrate!!

Kate said...

Congratulations! What a lovely surprise for you. The cupcakes are special...I see a tradition starting...

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Congratulations! And Aunt Grace Gigglebottom is the best name ever! Definitely a book character name ;)

kimberleyblue said...

Awww! Congrats! What cute little hands she has.

Pretty cupcakes - I love that lilac colour!

Meatloaf Recipe said...

Congratulations! Nice to know:)
Have a Best day!

peachkins said...

Congratulations, she's very lucky to have an aunt like you!

Julie M. said...

congratulations! That's a beautiful name she chose. I could certainly celebrate with one of those cupcakes as well; they look delicious!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Congratulations on becoming an aunt! Both of my nieces and nephews are almost grown up now. Although it's still cute to hear them call me Aunt Brandy :)

Love the cupcakes too. I'm sure if the little one could eat cupcakes she would devour a ton of them :)

LilSis said...

Congratulations! What a beautiful name, for what I'm sure is a beautiful little girl!!

I've recently been Nana-ed and my 2 month old grandson is a little angel and the joy of my life.

Your cupcakes are quite beautiful, too!

Maria said...

Congratulations! That's exciting news! Gorgeous cupcakes to celebrate with :-)

lisa is cooking said...

Congratulations! Being an aunt is the best, and those are the cutest little hands. These pretty purple cupcakes are perfectly fitting for newborn Lydia Grace!

Erica said...

Congratulations to you and your family! Those cupcakes sound delicious and look beautiful!I love the name Lydia Grace!!!!

Pam said...

Congratulations! I had an Aunt Gracie.

Cara said...

Congrats, Auntie! I never knew the name Lydia was associated with purple. All of a sudden I like it a lot more. And those cupcakes - they're perfect!

Ira said...

all your cupcake photos are so pretty!!! Congratulations to your family!

MrsLavendula said...

congratulations! what a pretty cupcake!

Carolyn Jung said...

Congrats on becoming an aunt! I bet you will be the best loved aunt, too, what with all the sweets you make on a regular basis. ;)

RChristopher said...

Congratulations! Being new parents ourselves, we know what a blessing children are. Love the purple cupcakes and sprinkles!

kat said...

Congrats new auntie!

syrupandbiscuits said...

Congratulations, Aunt Grace! Lydia Grace is one lucky little baby girl.

The cupcakes look spectacular.

Xiaolu said...

Congrats, Auntie! My only siblings (half-sisters) are at least 22 years younger than me, so it'll be a looong time before I'm an aunt hehe.

Faith said...

A huge congrats to you and the lucky parents, Grace! Her name is truly lovely and these beautiful cupcakes are a wonderful way to celebrate!

The Blonde Duck said...

Have a magical Monday!

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

Congratulations Auntie:)

Angie's Recipes said...

Congratulations!
Awesome cupcake, Grace!

oneordinaryday said...

How exciting! :)
I'm a bit fond of the name myself... my baby girl's middle name is Grace too!

culinarycarnivore said...

What a beautiful story :) This recipe just invokes warmth and happiness

LyB said...

Congratulations on becoming an aunt! Gorgeous little baby fingers, I could just eat them up! And the cupcakes too! ;)