As I mentioned in my last post, my friends and I had a baking day last week where we each chose three recipes to make and baked all day long!  It was a lot of fun and we made a lot of yummy treats.  Unfortunately one of my recipes came out looking gorgeous but was missing a key ingredient so I ended up throwing away the final product because of the texture.  That was kind of a bummer, but I will probably give it a try again soon because I think it has a lot of potential to be great.  Another of my recipes turned out absolutely delicious, but not very pretty, so I will be remaking that again very soon as well so I can post it here.  It is not to be missed!  This is the only one of my recipes that both tasted good and looked nice enough to post :)

I used my favorite yellow cake recipe for these cupcakes, and folded chopped dried cranberries and pecans into the batter.  I cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake, filled it with cranberry sauce, and then topped each with a swirl of maple buttercream.  I normally don’t like nuts in desserts, but I think I’m learning to like pecans.  These tasted really good and looked very cute.  My main complaint is that the original recipe yielded way more cranberry sauce and frosting than I needed, so a lot of it got thrown away.  I absolutely hate wasting ingredients (especially the precious cranberries I have been hoarding) so I have modified the quantities below to a more accurate estimate of what you actually need.  Enjoy!

Recipe Rewind: tried and true favorites I’ve made recently
Chicken Marsala

Cranberry Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream
Yield: 21-24 cupcakes

For the cake:
one recipe yellow cake batter (I like this recipe)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For the cranberry sauce:
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

For the maple buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1-2 tbsp. milk

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.  Prepare yellow cake batter as directed.  Gently fold in chopped dried cranberries and pecans until evenly distributed.  Divide the batter evenly between prepared cupcake liners.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool 5 minutes in the pans, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  When the cupcakes are cool, use a small paring knife to cut a shallow cone shape out of the center of each cupcake.

While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the cranberry sauce.  Combine the cranberries, water and sugar in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the cranberries start to pop.  Once all the cranberries are soft, remove from the heat.  Puree the mixture with an immersion blender (or blender or food processor).  If too thick, add a small amount of additional water to thin the sauce.  Allow to cool completely.  Spoon into the hole in each cupcake.

To prepare the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed until well combined, then increase speed and beat until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add the maple syrup.  Mix until incorporated.  If the frosting is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk and beat until smooth and desired consistency is achieved.  Top each cupcake with a swirl of frosting on top of the cranberry sauce.

Source: adapted from Jamie’s Green Kitchen and Beantown Baker