Butter Pecan Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:
HOMEMADE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE:
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
• 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
CUPCAKES:
• 1 tablespoon butter for pecans + 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter for cupcakes, softened
• 1/2 cup broken pecans, chopped
• 1 1/2 cups White Lily all-purpose flour, or cake flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup buttermilk
SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
• 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
• 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce, room temperature
• 1-2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream or sour cream
PREPARATION:
HOMEMADE SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE:
Heat sugar over medium-high heat in 1 to 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan or saute pan. When sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. It will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt.
When the sugar is melted, stop whisking and instead swirl the pan to move the sugar around. Continue cooking sugar until it is completely melted and reaches a deep amber color.
Carefully whisk in the butter, whisking till melted. The caramel may clump at the sides. Remove pan from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in salt.
Let sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then pour into a pint mason jar and cool to room temperature. Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
CUPCAKES:
Heat oven to 350°F
Cut 1 tablespoon. butter into small pieces; add to pecans in oven-proof dish. Bake, stirring after butter melts, 5 to 7 minutes, or till pecans are nicely toasted and butter is absorbed.
Cool. Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Whisk flour; lightly spoon and level to measure, then sift twice into medium bowl with baking powder and soda.
In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugar, salt and 1 stick butter. Beat at medium speed 5 minutes, till light and fluffy, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
Add eggs, one at a time, adding vanilla

with last egg and beating till yellow disappears after each addition.
Using lowest speed of mixer, add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour and adding nuts with last addition of flour.
Stir batter with spatula, briefly, to be sure everything is mixed well. Fill muffin cups with about 1/4 cup batter. Bake 15-17 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool on wire rack completely before frosting.
SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
In medium bowl, beat butter till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl; gradually add sugar and beat till smooth and creamy.
Add salted caramel sauce and cream on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed gradually to high and beat till frosting is light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate frosting at least 1/2 hour, or longer. (Can be made the day before.)
If desired, garnish frosted cupcakes with additional toasted chopped pecans. Refrigerate leftovers and allow to sit at room temperature one hour before serving.

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