Wednesday, July 25, 2012

.southern caramel cupcakes w/ candied pecans.

I don't know many people who don't love cupcakes.  These individual serving sized treats are perfect for someone who would like to splurge a little, but not overindulge.

I make cupcakes whenever I go to my scrapbook weekends.  I take two varieties and these deliciously moist, Southern Caramel Cupcakes were the ones I took just recently to a crop.  A light, buttery cake topped with homemade caramel and a candied pecan.  Could you get any more southern than that?

These take time to make -- at least, the caramel does.  So make sure you give yourself ample time.  Whomever you make these cupcakes for, they will love you for it!  Enjoy!

Butter Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups cake flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.  Your batter at this point will be really light and fluffy. 

In a bowl, mix together all your dry ingredients.   In a measuring cup, put your milk and vanilla.

Alternating, add some dry ingrediens and then some of the wet.  Do this until all has been added and mixed in.  Your batter should be slightly thick, but fluffy like frosting.

Using a large cookie scoop, scoop your batter into paper lined muffin tins.  Bake at 350* for approx 15 minutes.  When a toothpick inserted comes out clean, remove from the oven and dump onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely.

Homemade Caramel Topping

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, put 4 cups sugar and 1 cup butter (cut up into pieces) and cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the butter/sugar begins to turn a caramel color.  (Approx. 10 minutes)

When the sugar turns a deep amber, add 2 cans evaporated milk (Pet brand preferred) and 1 tsp sea salt (no substitutions).  Whisk until smooth.  It might take a few minutes, but as the milk heats up, the sugar will dissolve.

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and lower the heat a smidge to medium low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  When your candy thermometer reaches 245*, pull the pot from the heat and add 1 tsp vanilla.  Mix in well.

If you have a stand mixer, pour the hot caramel into your mixing bowl and using the paddle attachment, beat on slow for 30 minutes, or until the caramel becomes thick and is spreadable.  Let sit again for 30 minutes.

Spoon some caramel onto each cupcake.  Using a knife or small offset spatula, spread the caramel around to cover the surface of each cake. 

*NOTE:  Do not let this caramel sit too long otherwise it will set up too much and won't spread out as easily - and you could pull up the top of your cake. 

Candied Pecans

Put 2 cups pecan halves in a skillet and add 1/2 cup sugar.  Over medium heat, keep stirring the pecans and sugar around until the sugar melts and coats the pecans.  It will turn an amber color like the caramel.  When it does, remove from the heat immediately and dump the coated pecans onto a piece of foil or on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Allow to cool, then break up into pieces. 

*NOTE:  These can be made up days in advance.  Store in an air-tight container until ready to use.

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