Cupcake lovers have reason to rejoice: National Cupcake Day is coming up on December 15. If you’re a fan of Sprinkles (and really, who isn’t?), you have even more cause for celebration since the inventors of the cupcake ATM release special festive flavors over the holidays. Think: gingerbread, drinking chocolate and brown sugar praline.
Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson was in Scottsdale recently to promote her new cookbook, “The Sprinkles Baking Book,” and shared the brown sugar praline recipe with PHOENIX Magazine.
Nelson is a fan of this particular cupcake because it has warm notes of brown sugar and molasses and “a wonderful textural element of the crunchy pecans on top.” To achieve a soft cupcake, Nelson offers this tip: Make sure the milk, eggs and butter are at room temperature to ensure even blending. “You don’t want to over mix it because that will make a tough cupcake,” she says.
While the brown sugar praline cupcakes come highly recommended during the chilly winter months, now you can make them year-round, even in the dead of summer. You’ll thank me later.
Brown Sugar Praline Cupcakes
Excerpted from the book THE SPRINKLES BAKING BOOK by Candace Nelson
(Makes 12 cupcakes OR one 2-layer, 9-inch cake)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¾ cup whole milk
3 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
Brown Sugar Frosting (recipe follows)
3/4 cup pecan halves, for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, molasses, and vanilla.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, add the eggs one at a time, and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating until just blended after each addition. (The batter may appear slightly separated; this is okay.)
Divide the batter evenly among the liners and bake until the tops are puffy and dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, in a heavy-bottomed skillet, toast the pecans over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool. Once cool, place in a food processor and process until the nuts are the size of large bread crumbs, 10 to 15 seconds. Frost the cupcakes with brown sugar frosting and arrange them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the toasted pecan crumbs evenly over the cupcakes, gently pressing to adhere them to the frosting.
To bake as a cake
Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper cut to fit, and butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides of each pan, then tap out the excess flour. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake until the tops are dry to the touch, the sides of the cake start to pull away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (for generally the same amount of time as in the cupcake recipe). Let cool on a wire rack, then remove each cake from its pan, discard the parchment paper, and set one cake layer on a cake round, frosting turntable, or the final serving platter. Frost the top of that cake layer with the frosting, stack the second layer on top, and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
Brown Sugar Frosting
(Makes 2 cups)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup whole milk, plus more as needed
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat, stirring, until the brown sugar has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. Add the milk and return to a boil, stirring continuously, until the mixture is well combined, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm, 20 minutes. While whisking continuously, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time if the frosting becomes too stiff (it should be firm but still spreadable).
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