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!!!

My Autumn Salad: Aragula with Apple, Grapes, Pecans and Gorgonzola.

My husband had some family visiting from Germany these past weeks, and to be polite I agreed to have them over for dinner. Though they stayed over for several weeks, we never could find a common time to share dinner but yesterday. Yeah!!!! So what to cook when you are in a hurry and have worked all day. No worry;-)… It is feasible….

I had 2 hours to do my grocery and do the cooking… But I made it:-)

Here is what I fixed:

  • Autumn Salad with Candied Pecans, Apple and Grape
  • Roasted Summer Squash and Zucchini
  • Pesto Coated Salmon
  • Sun-dried Tomato and Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast
  • Spaghetti with fresh basil and Asiago
  • Chocolate Fudge Cake with Chocolate Ganache
  • Roasted Pear Creme Brulee Tart
This evening I will share with you the recipe of my Autumn Salad
Ingredients: 1 box of arugula Salad, 1/2 cup of pecan, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1/8 tsp of Mexican Chili powder, 1/16 tsp of black pepper, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 apple cored and sliced, 1 cup of red grape cut in half, 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp of walnut oil, 1/8 salt, 1/16 tsp of pepper, 1/2 cup of gorgonzola cheese crumbled.
In a large bowl, pour 4 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp of walnut oil, 1/8 tsp of salt, and 1/16 tsp of pepper. Mix well. Set aside. In a plastic bag, place the pecans, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1/8 of  black pepper, 1/4 of mexican chili powder, 1 tbsp of brown sugar, close and shake well so that the pecans are well coated. Cook at 450 for 10-12 minutes in an already warm oven. Remove from the oven and let them cool. In the bowl where you already fixed the dressing, add the salad, the sliced apple, the sliced grapes, and the candied pecans. Mix well. Your guests can add gorgonzola on their own salad. I don’t generally add the cheese to the salad since not all guests eat such a strong cheese. But you should definitely add it to your salad. The bitter taste of the cheese counterbalances the sweetness of the fruits and nuts. I hope you will give it a try.
Bon Appetit and Happy Cooking!!!