Any journal is a profoundly self-centered endeavor, perhaps unavoidably so. The entries, after all, are about what tempts the author, what sounds good (Sounds good? What are we, whales?). Many of you have offered excellent ideas, and today’s try is the first attempt at one of those great suggestions.
A long-time reader requested Butter Pecan Cupcakes and, a few months later, here they are! A classic summer conversation, favorite ice cream varieties, eventually evolved into speculation around whether anyone had tried the combination as a cupcake. Why, yes. A search for the most luscious recipe found what was featured on The Cake Blog.
In a slight variation, a whole candied pecan tops these cupcakes, instead of crumbled pecans in the original. Of course, there are plenty of crushed pecans, an abundance in fact, in the cupcake beneath the topping. Drenching the pecans beforehand in brown sugar-laden butter emphasizes their natural sweetness and anticipates the smooth creaminess in both the cupcake and in the frosting.
Pecans are the perfect partner for such buttery confections. Only a nut with the pecan’s candied savor can work with the four sticks of butter in each production. Not only are the individual pecans sweetened, but the cupcake amplifies the flavor, creating a praline of sorts. The vanilla in the cake and the cinnamon in the frosting complete the theme. A soft, silky praline.
The first request to appear here was a good one and generates enthusiasm for the next such project. Indeed, more are on the way and as your inspiration continues, the list will grow. There are many good recipes around, why not select one for yourself?
Butter Pecan Cupcakes
For the Pecans:
- 1 cup finely-chopped pecans (*1)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
For the Cupcakes:
- 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 egg, plus one egg white
- 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (*2)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4 of the pecans, from the above (*3)
For the Frosting:
- 1 cup butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, pecans and brown sugar. Toss to coat.
Spread the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside to cool. Leave oven running.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until the mixture is light brown and fluffy. It will take 4 minutes to do this with sufficient thoroughness.
Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the egg and egg white one at a time, mixing in each until well combined.
In a small measuring cup combine the milk and water. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
Add half the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until combined. Incorporate the milk-water combination in the measuring cup. Finally, add the last of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Stir in 3/4 of the toasted pecans, and pour the batter into cupcake liners, filling each 3/4 of the way, and baking them for 15 minutes.
While the cupcakes bake, clean the mixing bowl and blade, and cream the butter for the frosting. Add half the powdered sugar and mix until well-combined. Add the cinnamon, vanilla extract, salt and milk, and mix until combined.
Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until combined. Once the happens, beat the frosting at high speed for a minute or so, until it’s a bit fluffy.
After the cupcakes finish baking, remove them from the oven and set them out to cool. Once cooled, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and garnish with pecans.
1 – Personal preference, but I prepared the pecans as indicated, and I also included a few whole pecans for the garnish. As you can see, I mixed all the chopped pecans into the batter and saved the whole pecans for the top.
2 – AP flour certainly does the job, but cake flour is finer, resulting in a smoother cupcake. It’s my choice now for most baked desserts.
3 – As mentioned in Note 1, above, if you’re going to top the cupcakes with whole pecans, prepare the pecans as described and add all the chopped pecans to the batter.