Sunday, May 5, 2013

Browned Butter Carrot Cupcakes with Salted Candied Pecans

If you've followed my blog for a while, then you might remember the Browned Butter Carrot Cake I made several times last September, first for a birthday party and then for work.  But I had yet to try my recipe in cupcake form, so with a request for "something with cream cheese frosting" for the cupcakes I planned to bring to a work potluck, I was glad for the chance to make this recipe again.

Because it's just that good.

I was pleased that my recipe baked equally well for cupcakes as it does for layer cakes - at high altitude I can never be sure of this until I try it.  I've always loved carrot cake, and the browned butter adds so much flavor and richness to the sweet little cakes.

The cupcakes are topped with a swirl of cinnamon cream cheese buttercream and a sprinkling of salted candied pecans.  The pecans taste like fall, but they taste fantastic no matter what season.  They are dangerously addictive, though...  As they sit cooling on the counter, it's tempting to start nibbling at the edges, and after a couple of bites, you'll want to eat your weight in candied pecans.

Browned Butter Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream and Salted Candied Pecans
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (5-8 carrots, depending on their size)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
cream cheese buttercream:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

To make the cupcakes: 
Preheat the oven to 350.  Line muffin tins with paper cupcake liners (about 28-30).  Set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Cook the butter, swirling occasionally, until it turns a nutty golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  In another larger bowl, whisk together the grated carrots, applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Whisk in the brown butter until incorporated.  Gradually whisk in the flour mixture just until moistened.  Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full (I filled each with about 1/4 cup batter).

Bake until the centers spring back when gently touched and a toothpick comes out clean, about 15-17 minutes.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to wire racks and cool completely, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel. 

To make the frosting: 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese for about 1 minute to combine.

In a separate bowl combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder and cinnamon.  Add to the mixing bowl, a cup at a time, mixing on low to combine.  Add the vanilla.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Fit a piping bag with a large star tip and pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes.  Top with chopped, salted candied pecans (recipe below...).

Yields about 30 cupcakes.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Salted Candied Pecans
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cups raw, unsalted pecans

Preheat the oven to 300.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg white, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined.  Add the pecans and stir with a spatula to coat them evenly.  Spread into a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely on the foil before breaking or chopping into pieces.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

Yields 3 cups.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen