Want to know how to elevate a cupcake? These Banana Creme Brûlée Cupcakes are a deliciously tender banana cupcake filled and topped with banana pudding and finished with the best crackling caramelized sugar for an awe-inspiring creation.
The topping is a showstopper, but you’ll enjoy every part of these banana pudding-filled cupcakes from the homemade silky smooth banana pudding to the light and fluffy banana cake. Creme brûlée cupcakes are a sure way to really wow your guest at baby and wedding showers, holiday gatherings, and parties.
This is a fantastic special occasion dessert recipe that is elegant yet subtle, much like a classic creme brûlée. The cake is similar to banana bread but not as dense, and just as fluffy as a classic cupcake.
What is creme brûlée?
This dessert is traditionally made with a vanilla custard that is topped with sugar and torched into a hardened caramelized shell. This recipe has many twists to create a unique creme brûlée-inspired recipe using bananas, pudding, and making it into a cupcake.
Why I love these cupcakes
Torching sugar to a caramelized crispy top on these pudding-filled cupcakes is the best part of this recipe, but there is so much more to enjoy! And the best part? They’re pretty simple to make and a cupcake recipe you will be proud to showcase.
Homemade banana goodness. The cupcake and pudding are both made with sweet bananas to really push the flavor through the end result.
A fun twist on creme brûlée. Torching the sugar on top of the cupcake adds that exciting touch that you get when cracking the caramelized sugar on the creme brûlée. For these cupcakes, before taking that first bite, take a spoon and enjoy the same effect by breaking the top.
The best texture combination. The banana cupcake is a lovely combination between banana bread and a cupcake, but not quite a muffin. As in, it’s light and fluffy but still has more density than a cupcake. Filled with a smooth and creamy pudding and the best crackly sugar top.
Perfect bring along for parties. Are you planning a party and need a dessert that will leave your guest in awe? Then this is the one for you! And because we torch the sugar before serving, you’ll have a dessert that draws a crowd.
Ingredients for Creme Brûlée Cupcakes
Creating tasty creations in cupcake form doesn’t have to use complicated ingredients. Everything we use to make these banana pudding creme brûlée cupcakes can be found in your pantry.
- Dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and granulated sugar.
- Wet ingredients: vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla.
- Bananas: use ripe bananas for balanced sweetness and banana flavor.
- Milk – Whole milk works best and makes for a rich pudding, but you can use any percentage.
- Bananas – use ripe bananas for the best sweet banana flavor.
- Vanilla bean – use 1 tsp vanilla extract instead. *See baker’s notes for the method.
- Egg yolks – Since we are just using the yolks, save the whites to use in another recipe like the shells for these chocolate macarons.
- Sugar – granulated white sugar, this recipe won’t work well with any sugar substitutes.
- Cornstarch – this acts as a thickener for the pudding to get it to a proper consistency for filling and topping the cupcakes.
- Sea salt – salt balances the sweetness of the pudding.
- Butter – butter also helps to thicken the pudding even more once it cools and begins to set.
Creme Brûlée Topper
- Sugar – use granulated sugar for the thin layer on top. This will then be torched for that classic cracking sugar topping that you look for in a creme brûlée recipe.
How to make creme brûlée cupcakes
Making banana cupcakes and banana pudding from scratch is pretty simple. You can start the pudding a day before and have it ready to fill and top the cupcakes.
Bake Banana Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
Mix dry ingredients. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Mix wet ingredients. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and granulated sugar for 1 minute, until incorporated.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg fully before adding the next. Add the vanilla and mashed bananas and stir to combine.
Combine each mix. Lastly, add the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
Fill and bake. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, Once done, allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling and frosting.
Baker tip – Check the cupcakes for doneness by gently pressing your finger on top of the cupcakes, and if they spring right back, they are done baking.
Cook Banana Pudding
Infuse the pudding. In a small saucepan, add the milk, chopped bananas, and vanilla bean seeds and cook over medium heat until just boiling. Cover and allow the mixture to infuse for at least 4 hours.
Cook pudding. Once the milk is done infusing, place the pan back over medium heat until hot. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt together and set aside.
Strain the mixture and gently squeeze the bananas to release as much milk as possible from the solids without letting them through.
Remove 2 tablespoons of the hot milk and slowly pour over the yolk mixture, whisking nonstop. Then continue to add the remaining milk in a small stream whisking continuously until all the milk has been added. This is called tempering the eggs, and the reason why we add the hot milk slowly to the yolk mixture, is not to cook the eggs.
Return the mixture to the pot pouring through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids and cook over medium heat stirring nonstop with a wooden spoon or spatula. Scrape the bottoms and sides while the pudding cooks to prevent burning. Cook the custard until it starts to thicken and is smooth.
Allow pudding to chill and set. Remove from the heat and add butter, stirring to combine. Pour into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap allowing it to lay on the surface of the pudding to prevent skin from forming. Place it in the fridge to chill completely. Transfer the pudding into a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip.
Assemble the cupcakes
Scoop and fill cupcake. Use a spoon to remove the center of each cupcake. Fill the center of each cupcake with pudding and then pipe a mound on top as well. Use a small spatula or spoon to smooth and round the top.
Brûlée the top. Right before serving, sprinkle sugar on top of the pudding in a thin layer and use a blowtorch to gently brûlée the sugar.
Baker tip – Wait until right before serving to caramelize the sugar for the best crackling crunch texture. If this step is done too early, it will soften and not have that crave-worthy sugar break that you want for in creme brûlée.
Baker’s Tips and Substitutions
Infusing the milk. You can refrigerate this milk and banana mixture in the refrigerator overnight for a stronger infusion of flavors. This step for a banana pudding made from scratch is the best way to get a fresh banana taste that shines through the finished product.
Use vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. This is an easy exchange; the only difference would be to add the extract after the pudding is cooked and removed from the heat.
Make the pudding ahead of time. To save time when you’re ready to make these moist banana cupcakes with filling, prepare the homemade banana pudding the day before. This will allow it enough time to cool and set so you can concentrate on baking and assembling the cupcakes.
Measure your flour correctly. Use the spoon and fill method for measuring flour by scooping it with a spoon to fill the cup and then scrape the top flat. This will ensure you do not use too much flour which will result in a dry cupcake.
More ways to make creme brûlée cupcakes
This cupcake recipe is such a delight with its combination of textures and scrumptious banana infusion. There are a few ways you can layer on more flavor and make it a little easier to make when in a pinch.
Add flavorful frosting. If you want an additional layer of flavor, try making a cinnamon cream cheese frosting to add on top instead of more pudding. You can double the banana cupcake recipe, and make the pudding, and frosting for a double batch of cupcakes with pudding filling and frosting.
Use boxed pudding mix. Don’t get me wrong, to make the best banana creme brûlée cupcakes, homemade banana pudding is KEY. But as a time-saver, you can use boxed banana pudding and follow the instructions to make it. Use the cooked mix over the no cook type.
Try another flavor cupcake. If you want to enjoy this recipe again, try a different flavor of cake, like this almond cupcake recipe.
How do I make the brulee sugar topping without a torch?
Not everyone owns a kitchen torch and sometimes you run out of fluid. An easy workaround for this is to make the sugar toppers separate and then add them to the cupcakes when ready to serve. Check out this method for making caramel shards as a substitute for using a torch.
Have issues with your cupcakes when baking? I’ve created a guide for troubleshooting issues while baking cupcakes: A Comprehensive Guide for Cupcake Fixes.
Muffin pan with cupcake liners
Fine mesh sieve
How to store cupcakes
Store prepared cupcakes with filling covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To freeze: For the best results, wrap the cupcakes or place them in an airtight freezer-safe container without the banana pudding filling. When ready to serve, pull out of the freezer 24 hours in advance and then assemble as usual.
More Creme Brulee Recipes
Banana Crème Brûlée Cupcakes
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour 191 g
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil 120 ml
- ¾ cup granulated sugar 150 g
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup mashed bananas 146 g (about 1 1/2 bananas)
- 2 cups milk 480 ml
- 2 cups very ripe chopped bananas 340 g (3 to 4 bananas)
- 1 vanilla bean split in half (see Note)
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar 100 g
- 3 tbsp cornstarch 24 g
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter 14 g at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract optional
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar 66 g for topping
- To make the Banana Cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil and granulated sugar for 1 minute, until incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg fully before adding the next. Add the vanilla and mashed bananas and stir to combine.
- Lastly, add the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way. Bake for about 18 minutes. Start checking the cupcakes at the 15-minute mark, and keep baking and checking as necessary. To see if the cupcakes are ready, gently press with your finger on top of the cupcakes, and if they spring right back, they are done baking. Let the cupcakes cool completely before filling and frosting.
- To make the Banana Pudding, place the milk, chopped bananas and seeds from the vanilla bean in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring it to almost a boil.
- When you see the first few bubbles, remove the pan from the heat. Cover the pan and let the bananas and milk infuse for at least 4 hours, or place the pan in the fridge overnight. When the milk is done infusing, place the pan back over medium heat and reheat until hot.
- While the milk reheats, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Strain the milk, being careful so you don’t let any banana pieces get through the strainer. Gently squeeze the bananas to release as much milk as possible from the solids without letting them through. Slowly pour 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the hot milk over the yolk mixture while whisking nonstop. Keep adding the remaining milk very slowly, whisking the pudding continuously.
- Once all the milk has been added to the yolks, return the whole mixture to the saucepan that you used to heat the milk by pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any bits of yolk that may have cooked or banana pieces that may have gone through.
- Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring nonstop with a wooden spoon or spatula, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom very well while you cook it. The custard will start to get thick and it will look lumpy for a while, but just keep stirring over medium heat. After a minute or so, the mixture should be thick and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter (and vanilla extract, if using), stirring to combine. Pour it into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placed right on the surface of the pudding so it doesn’t form a skin as it cools. Place it in the fridge to chill completely.
- To assemble the cupcakes, use a spoon to remove the center of each cupcake. Place the Banana Pudding in a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe the pudding into the center of each cupcake, and then pipe a mound of pudding on top of each cupcake. Use a small spatula or spoon to make it smooth and round.
- Only brûlée the top of the cupcakes right before serving, or the caramelized sugar will lose its crackling and crunchy texture as it sits. It will still be delicious, just not crunchy. Sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of the granulated sugar on top of the pudding, making sure to coat all over in a thin and even layer. Use a blowtorch to gently brûlée the sugar.
- The cupcakes can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.