Friday, October 29, 2010

Kentucky Pecan Chocolate Cupcakes

Now you can skip the difficult decision to choose between eating chocolate chip pecan pie or a chocolate brownie.  This recipe combines both and adds a kick of bourbon, so you might lean towards calling this a recipe for "Derby Pie" cupcakes.  However, this recipes does not have that title since the creators of Derby Pie are so protective of the trademarked name (25 lawsuits).

Creating the cupcakes involves baking of cupcakes, cooking a sugar mixture for the filling and icing, filling the cupcakes and also icing them.  The end result is a very decadent dessert, bursting with the flavor of chocolate fudge and caramelized nuts. Based on that, you may want to save this for a special event or holiday. Also, the cupcakes are always appropriate should you intend to host a Kentucky Derby party.

If you prefer not to use bourbon, you can basically delete it from the instructions.  I found that the cupcake batter and filling is too runny if you add water or maple syrup in its place. The icing may need some water in place of the bourbon to get it to the right consistency.

The recipe makes about 16-20 cupcakes.

Kentucky Pecan Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted fromCupcake Project

Cupcake batter ingredients:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter (room temp)

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup choc chips
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
4 beaten eggs (room temp)
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Frosting Ingredients:
Part of filling from above
3 tbs bourbon
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar

Method for cupcake batter:
In a medium size bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside. In a small soup bowl, mix milk and vanilla extract. Set this aside also.

Then take a larger bowl and with an electric mixer (hand or stand) beat butter until it becomes smooth.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes.  The end result should be a light, fluffy batter.

Next, with a wooden spoon, you will fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture.  Continue to fold until no dry ingredients remain.  Add half of the milk/vanilla liquid to the batter and mix well.  Repeat those processes, ending with the flour mixture, until all is combined. Set batter aside.

Making and using the filling
In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium heat.  While stirring constantly, add corn syrup and sugar and continue to cook on medium until sugar dissolves. The sugar is dissolved once you are unable to feel a gritty consistency at the bottom of the saucepan. Remove from heat and put saucepan in the fridge (on a potholder) to cool.  Set timer for 5 minutes.

Then take a large bowl and whisk together the bourbon, vanilla, eggs and salt. The timer for the saucepan will go off shortly.  When this happens, check the temperature of the sugar mixture-it should be lukewarm to the touch.  If not, put back in fridge for another 5 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then prepare the cupcake pan by greasing the top edge of each of the batter holders. I use a non-stick spray and spray on a paper towel and then rub it on the pan. Place the cupcake liners in the holders.

Once the sugar mixture is the right temperature, remove from fridge and beat with a wooden spoon to mix in butter pieces that started to solidify at the top.  Slowly pour and whisk the mixture (constantly) in the bowl with the bourbon and eggs. Use a spatula to scrape the saucepan to make sure all is included with the bourbon/egg batter. When all is mixed together, fold in chocolate chips and pecans until evenly distributed.

Separate the filling in half between 2 bowls, setting aside one 1/2 for the icing.  Take 3/4 of the other half and fold it into the chocolate batter and set aside the remaining 1/4.

Fill half of the cupcake liners with the batter.  Be very careful not to overfill, you do not want your cupcakes to bake beyond the liner.  Go back to the remaining 1/4 cup of pecan filling and put 1-2 tsp of this filling on top of the cupcake batter in the liners.  This filling should now put the liners at 3/4 full.

Place the cupcake tin in the preheated oven and set the timer for 10 minutes to bake.  Then turn pan and set for another 10 minutes of baking time.  Using a toothpick tester, check to see if done.  If not, add a few more minutes until tester comes out clean.  These took exactly 20 minutes in my oven.

Remove cupcake pan and set on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and let cool.

During the cooling time, you will need to prepare the filling for the icing.  Take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  Give the filling a good stir and then pour onto baking sheet.  Place pan in oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool.

Making and using the frosting
With an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth.  Then beat in 3 cups of the sugar, one cup at a time, until no dry sugar remains. Then mix in bourbon and vanilla.  Beat in the last cup of sugar, making sure all is mixed in.  Fold the cooled filling into the frosting mixture, distributing evenly.

When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost tops by using a butter knife or spatula.  The cupcakes, being so rich without icing, do not require the typical thick swirl of piped icing on top. Besides that, the nuts in the icing prevent the frosting from being piped.