1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in pecans and vanilla. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Tap pan against counter to release air bubbles.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Place Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below) in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe cupcakes with frosting, or spread evenly on cupcakes.
Just before serving, top each cupcake with a Pecan-Topped Pastry Round (see recipe below).
Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons butter. Let cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cooled brown-sugar mixture and remaining 1/2 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to achieve a spreadable consistency.
Pecan-Topped Pastry Round
1/4 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (1/2 sheet)
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 pecan halves
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut 12 rounds using a 1 1/4-inch fluted cutter. Reserve scraps for another use.
In a small bowl, combine syrup, melted butter, and salt; lightly brush over dough rounds. Gently press 1 pecan half onto each dough round. Lightly brush tops of pecans with butter mixture.
Bake until dough is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in a resealable plastic bag.
Source: Taste of the South Magazine