Praline, Pecan and Vanilla Cupcakes

As a board member of the The Little Theatre of Spartanburg, I tried to help whenever I can. Since the SLT hosted a reception to thank the sponsors of the Little Theatre, I offered to help. It was an hour reception before the Show Honky Tonk.  After listening to all the different fares that would be offered that evening, I decided to bring in cupcakes. Easy…But I wanted the cupcakes to reflect the theme of the party so I looked up the word Honky Tonk. The word Honky Tonk is defined in Wikipedia as ” rough establishments, mostly in the Deep South and Southwest, that served alcoholic beverages to a working class clientele. Honky tonks sometimes also offered dancing to piano players or small bands, and were sometimes also centers of prostitution.”

So I started thinking of Southern desserts and thought of divinities, pecan pies and thought of making a Praline, Pecan and Vanilla Cupcakes.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes or 24 small cupcakes or 30 mini cupcakes: 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 tsp of baking powder, 3/4 cup of sugar, 6 tbsp of butter at room temperature, 2 large eggs, 1 tbsp of vanilla extract.

Turn the oven to 350. In a bowl, mix together the flour and the baking powder and set aside. In another bowl, beat the butter and the sugar  until the butter is becoming very fluffy. Add one egg at a time in the butter mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla extract also and beat well. Add the flour into 3 additions beating on low-speed. Beat just enough until no traces of flour remain. Do not overbeat!!!

Place the dough in a plastic bag, cut one end and fill the cupcakes. Cook in the oven for 15-18 minutes for the big cupcakes, 13 for the small and 10 minutes for mini cupcakes.

For the frosting you need to make a vanilla cream cheese frosting, and a caramel.

Cream cheese frosting: 8 oz of cream cheese, 6 tbsp of butter at room temperature, 1 tbsp  of vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of sugar.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese, the butter, the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add the sugar a little at a time and mix until it is well combined. Set aside.

Pralines and caramel: 1 1/2 cup of pecans, 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar, 4 tbsp of heavy cream.

Turn the oven to 375, place the pecans on a silpat and cook for 10 minutes until they are toasted and are becoming a dark golden brown. Keep 1/2 cup for decoration, and break the other cup of pecans in small pieces.

In a small saucepan, place the cream and the brown sugar, and cook until it is bubbling and the sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup of pecans pieces into the caramel and stir to coat them with the caramel.

Empty the  caramel into the small round flexiform and place it in the fridge for the caramel to cool. When the caramel is cold, empty it into the cream cheese frosting. With a spatula, fold the caramel into the frosting slowly but do not combine! You should see streaks of white and brown. Using a spoon, scoop the frosting onto the cupcakes and place 1 pecan half on each cupcake.  Fini!!!

Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!