Saturday, February 23, 2013


I love the buttery, sweet, rich taste of pecans, especially local East Carolina pecans.  Last year was not a good year for pecans in our region, and here's hoping that 2013 will yield a better crop.  Use whatever pecans you can get for these outstanding cupcakes.  I promise you won't be sorry.  The cupcake is ultra-tender and light, studded with those wonderful pecans that have been sauteed in butter first.  Salted Caramel Frosting is the perfect topping for these, of course garnished with more pecans.

Make the salted caramel sauce first.  It can be made several days ahead.  Make the frosting before the cupcakes so it can be refrigerated to set up.  This is one dessert you will make again and again.

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
Rating:  10 out of 10

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, soft
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce, room temperature
1-2 tsp. sour cream or heavy whipping cream

In medium bowl, beat butter till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape bottom and sides of bowl; gradually add sugar and beat till smooth and creamy.  Add salted caramel sauce and cream on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed gradually to high and beat till frosting is light and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Refrigerate frosting at least 1/2 hour, or longer.  (Can be made the day before.)

3 tsp. unsalted butter for pecans + 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter for cupcakes, softened
1/2 cup chopped or broken pecans
1-1/2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour (not self-rising)*
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1-1/2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice), room temperature

*You may use cake flour or any low-protein flour in place of White Lily all-purpose flour.

Heat oven to 350F.  Cut 3 tsp. butter into small pieces; add to pecans in oven-proof dish.  Bake, stirring after butter melts, 5-7 minutes, or till pecans are nicely toasted and butter is absorbed.  Cool.  Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners; spray insides with nonstick cooking spray for easy release of cupcakes.  Whisk flour; lightly spoon and level to measure, then sift twice into medium bowl with baking powder and soda.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar, salt and 1 stick butter.  Beat at medium speed 5 minutes, till light and fluffy, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed.  Add eggs, one at a time, adding vanilla with last egg and beating till yellow disappears after each addition.  Using lowest speed of mixer, add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour and adding nuts with last addition of flour.  Stir batter with spatula, briefly, to be sure everything is mixed well.  Fill muffin cups with about 1/4 cup batter.  Bake 15-17 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool on wire rack completely before frosting.  If desired, garnish frosted cupcakes with additional chopped pecans.  Yield:  12 cupcakes


  1. What happens if you use just regular all-purpose flour? Will the cake be ruined?

    1. Hi Cheryl, You can substitute all-purpose flour, but you would have to reduce it by 2 Tbsp. for every cup. That means instead of 1-1/2 cups flour, you would use 1-1/2 cups minus 3 Tbsp. Remember to whisk the flour, then lightly spoon and level off. The cupcakes will be denser but will taste the same.


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