Monday, May 12, 2008

Spiced Pecan Cupcakes with Whipped Caramel Filling and White Chocolate Frosting

I wanted to make a dessert without having to run to the store, so I took stock of my kitchen. I had chocolate, nuts (oh goodness, lots of!), various fruits, and a whole lot of sweetened condensed milk. I loved the walnut cupcakes from Chockylit's Cupcake Bakeshop and wanted to make something similar again.

Glancing back over my list of ingredients, three jumped out at me: pecans, white chocolate, and dulce de leche. Not exactly a spring dessert, but one that brings nothing so much as "golden" to mind for description. The end result was a combination of subtle flavors, gentle enough to savor but light enough that you could enjoy more than one (and the boyo did!)

I don't have a cross-section but the daub in the picture is the caramel filling, with the almond-praline topping from here.

Whipped Caramel (adapted from David Lebovitz's recipe):
* 1 can sweetened condensed milk
* 2 tsp sea salt
* 1 c heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour sweetened condensed milk and sat into a glass pie pan and stir to combine. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in a roasting pan. Fill roasting pan halfway up pie pan with hot water. Bake for 1-1/2 hours or until caramel is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before continuing.

Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of whipped cream to dulce de leche and stir until combined, to lighten. Fold remainder of whipped cream into dulce de leche. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Pecan Cupcakes (adapted from
~20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

* 1-1/2 c flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
* 3/4 c sugar
* 1/4 tsp salt
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/4 c grape seed oil or vegetable oil
* 4 egg yolks (approximately 3 oz)
* 1/4 c water
* 1/3 c pecan butter
* 7 egg whites (approximately 7 oz)
* 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
* 1/4 c sugar
* 1/2 tsp cardamom
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* zest of one orange

In a food processor, blend 3/4 c sugar with orange zest until finely ground. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices into the bowl of a standing mixer. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and pecan butter. Stir to combine.

On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.

Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Scoop about a third of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.

Scoop into cupcake cups just less than 1/2 full and bake at 350 F for 20-22 minutes.

White Chocolate Frosting (from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible"):
* 9 oz. white chocolate, melted, cooled to room temperature
* 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
* 6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
* 1 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Beat cream cheese in mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in the melted and cooled chocolate until incorporated. Add in the butter and lemon juice last, beating well until smooth.

Once cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone out of the top and dollop enough whipped caramel to put it just below top of cupcake. Cut the tip off the cone and place it back on top of the cupcake. Pipe frosting over cupcake and sprinkle praline over top. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


Grace said...

my stars, what a combination. as a professed lover of both white chocolate and dulce de leche (seriously, is there anyone in the world who doesn't like dulce de leche?), this is something i absolutely must try. it definitely has the potential to be a new favorite. :)

Tarah said...

Oh wow! This sounds fantastic! What a combination!

Anonymous said...

Make me a dozen without pecans and I will be round nextweek to pick them up!


Jerry said...

Wonderful! I would have never come up with the combo!

ambrosia ananas said...

Oh, yum. Those look so good.

(Also, what are you thinking of the Robin Hobb book? I just read that series a couple months ago.)

ambrosia ananas said...

Re Hobb: The first book was okay but nothing amazing. (I read Card's review before I read the book, so I was expecting earth-shattering, and the first book just isn't.) The second book, though, was were it got good for me. And in the third book, yeah, wow.

And Martin--yeah. I'm worried that he'll die in the middle of the series, like Jordan did.

What's your favorite Card? And do you like Gaiman?

ambrosia ananas said...

Yeah, the Ender series is great. I also love Worthing Saga.

Book 3 is the end of the Soldier Son series. I'd love to hear what you think of them when you finish.

Anonymous said...

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