The Banana Brownie Cupcake Challenge

Sweet Arleen's - Banana Brownie Cupcakes

“Great things never came from comfort zones.”

When was the last time you were in an uncomfortable situation, unsure whether the outcome would go in your favor? And was the situation by happenstance or was it intentional?

I’ve come to realize some of my most memorable moments happen when I’m uncomfortable, even when it comes to cupcakes.

So this week, I challenged myself and returned to Sweet Arleen’s in Yorba Linda, California to try their Flavor of the Month.

It may not sound like much. However, I have history with this bakery. They introduced me to French Buttercream in 2013, and it did not go well. In 2014, I gave them another try and found happiness with their Swiss Buttercream.

Now I was back to see if my palate had evolved enough to appreciate their feature flavor, Banana Brownie Cupcake.

It’s a banana brownie cupcake with chocolate chips, filled with salted butterscotch, and frosted with a caramel banana buttercream. Then the cupcake is drizzled with fudge and white chocolate, blue “paint”.

Inside Sweet Arleen’s shop, an associate shared further details. The cupcake was topped with Italian Buttercream. I was relieved it wasn’t French, though uncertain how I’d fare with my intro to Italian. And this cupcake was the reason they won Cupcake Wars for the 3rd time.

I completed my purchase and tried to forget that last bit of information. By the time I was home, I had no expectations. I was ready to begin.

With chocolate morsels throughout, the brownie was chocolaty, but not fudgy. Try as I might, I never detected the pureed bananas in the batter. Moreover, it was drier than preferred.

Instinctively, I wondered if heat would improve the brownie’s consistency. Yet, I knew not to ruin the composition of the Italian Buttercream. Smooth and sleek, it had the color of caramel, while the banana flavor was prevalent. That was enough to keep me eating, but not enough to make me like it.

By the third bite, I reached the butterscotch filling. It flowed easily and tasted like caramel. That wasn’t a problem, just stating a fact.

The cupcake’s center was a surprise. A crater at the top held extra frosting, allowing the Italian Buttercream and sweet filling to merge.

Normally, a cupcake constructed in such a manner would send me into a euphoric state. However, since I was tolerating the buttercream, I simply noted the effort.

I finished all the Italian Buttercream and most of the Banana Brownie Cupcake from Sweet Arleen’s. Looking at the leftovers, I knew it was something I would not choose again. Still, I had no regrets.

Being uncomfortable was only a few moments. But the knowledge gained from this challenge will last.


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