Today, I had to say goodbye to some dear friends. OK, so it isn’t a real goodbye as I am positive that I will see then again and through the powers of this Internet thing, I am quite sure that we will be in touch all the time, but today these two friends stopped being co-tenants. They moved into the building we shared within weeks of me, and it’s been a decade of living here, so ten years of waves and smiles when we were in a hurry, gossip about other neighbors, the parking, the laundry, the snow — god, the snow of 2015! — Italy, Harvard, Germany, our respective families and cats. They have always gotten my foodie experiments, and I remember telling Erin about CSPS a few weeks after I went down this path and she trying my Roasted Salsa Black Bean Soup (March 2011). In exchange, I always received extras from their Crop Share (thank you again, guys!). So a fare-ye-well from me always involves food. So I made these Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie Cupcakes with Butter Pecan Frosting for them to take on their drive down to their new home.
for the Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup bourbon
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
for the Pecan Pie Filling
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the Butter Pecan Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract divided
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup finely chopped raw pecans + 18 whole pecans
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cupcake pans with 18 liners.
In a medium bowl, beat the bourbon, canola oil, eggs, Greek yogurt and sugar with an electric mixer. Slowly add cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda, combining on low speed until just incorporated. Fill baking cups three-fourths full. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling, at least 2 hours or covered overnight.
Meanwhile make the pecan pie filling. Combine 1/4 cup cold water with 2 tablespoons cornstarch, whisk until smooth. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, salt and corn starch mixture to a sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking consistently for about 5 minutes. Do not stop whisking the mixture, especially in the beginning or you will end up with scrambled eggs. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the pecans, bourbon and vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool a few minutes and then transfer to the fridge for at least one hour or until completely cooled and thickened.
To make the frosting. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
In a medium sauce pan, melt together 1/4 cup butter, cream, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and add to the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl in the freezer (or fridge for longer) for 15-20 minutes or until cool. In a bowl whisk together the bourbon, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon. Add pecans and stir to coat evenly. Transfer nuts to prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted. Remove and toss the pecans with 1 tablespoon butter. Allow to cool 10 minutes, set aside.
Next, take the cooled butter mixture out of the freezer and add the remaining 1/2 cup room temperature butter, vanilla and powdered sugar to the bowl and beat together until well combined. Mix in about 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans. If the frosting is not stiff enough to frost the cupcakes place it in the fridge for 30 20-30 minutes or the freezer for 5-15 minutes. The remove and whip it for a few second to get everything smooth again.
To assemble the cupcakes: Use a cupcake corer or a small paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece from the center of each cupcake. Fill the hole with the cooled pecan pie filling. Add the frosting (if you want to pipe the frosting on use a circular tip, double the frosting recipe and swirl the frosting on in a circular motion) and sprinkle each cupcake with the remaining pecans. If desired top with 1 whole pecan.