The temperatures have officially dropped for the year and much of the country has a dusting (or few feet) of snow on the ground. We may not have snow here in Florida but the temps have dropped enough that I still get the instinct to stay inside bundled up in blankets and make something warm to keep me cozy. This time of year I usually start making cookies as part of my Christmas cookies series with the hopes of helping those looking for ways to add a new type of cookie to the traditional holiday offerings. I promise those recipes are coming soon but I had to fulfill a wish from my 3-year-old who kept asking for cake.
Anyone with a toddler or preschooler knows a slice of cake is extremely messy so I typically offer cupcakes instead. This typically cuts down on the mess minus a few crumbs here and there. I chose to keep with the holiday spirit and select a cake that combines all of the aromas associated with this time of year. Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit more than cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves permeating the air with their wonderful aroma as the cake bakes. Throw on some Christmas music and voila you have holiday cheer in your house without having to make the dreaded (at least in my house) sugar cookies.
What takes this cake to the next level is the frosting. I will warn you this frosting is not the easiest to work with but it is totally worth the effort. The maple adds the perfect complement to the spice cake and makes it feel as if you purchased them from a fancy pastry shop. If the frosting starts to set up on you too quick add a few drops of cream or water until it reaches a spreadable consistency once more. A toasted whole pecan on top adds the finishing touch and a delightful crunch!
Maple Frosted Pecan Spice Cupcakes
- 1 box Spice Flavored Cake Mix (or your favorite spice cake recipe)
- 1/3 cup Chopped Pecans; toasted
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
- ¼ cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- ¼ cup Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- Dash of Salt
- 2 cups Powdered Sugar
- ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 18 Whole Pecans; toasted
- Preheat oven to 350°. Fill a 12-cup and a 6-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- Prepare cake mix according to box (or recipe) directions. Once batter is prepared, gently fold in the chopped pecans until just combined. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each liner ¾ full with batter. Bake cupcakes until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- While the cupcakes cool prepare the frosting. In a saucepan place brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, maple syrup, butter, and salt. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring only until the sugar dissolves. Cook mixture for 3 minutes without stirring. Remove mixture from the heat and scrape into a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and beat with a hand mixer on high-speed for 2 minutes (or until mixture has cooled slightly and thickened). Beat in the vanilla.
- Using an offset spatula, move quickly to frost each cupcake. If the frosting sets before you have completed all of the cupcakes add a few drops of cream or water until the frosting is back to a spreadable consistency (the frosting will set faster if your cupcakes have completely cooled). Place a whole pecan on the center of each frosted cupcake. Serve.
RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: KATHY FARRELL-KINGSLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS