Sunday, March 25, 2012

Butter Pecan Cake

We decided to start celebrating birthdays at work. This is very exciting, because it means I was nominated birthday fairy and I get to make treats for birthdays. The tricky part is that my office has a few people who either don't like or can't eat chocolate, so I'm rapidly expanding my non-chocolate portfolio. (If your response right now was, 'wait, cake comes in NOT chocolate?? WHAAAT??" then we are totally friends.) One of the new cakes I've adopted is a butter pecan cake / cupcakes, and it is AWESOME. Almost worth forgetting I know about chocolate.

For work or for places where there are lots of people, I always do cupcakes just to make serving the cake easier. However, this recipe makes so much batter that I made two dozen cupcakes and still had enough batter/icing to make the birthday girl her own 6" cake to take home.

My only disappointment in this whole experience was my use of the floral themed Wilton cupcake papers. These did not bake as pretty as I had hoped and many of them looked kind of ridiculous. Since the icing on this cake is not able to be piped, I was hoping that using the flour papers would help decorate them, or that the nutty icing would look like centers in the flours. Unfortunately, it did not turn out this way.

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)
Butter Pecan Cake - Yield 3, 9" layers OR 3 dozen standard cupcakes
Adapted from the recipe found here and originally published in Christmas with Southern Living, 2005.

6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all purpose flour
Toasted pecan halves- for garnish, if desired

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
16 ounces powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk/cream;
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Step #1 - Preheat oven to 350* F.

Step #2 - Melt chocolate with evaporated milk in double boiler over medium/low heat. Set aside to cool. If you don't have a double boiler, you can always put a glass bowl over a sauce pan to create one, which is what I do. Make sure that the bowl is big enough to sit on top of the pan securely, but without touch the bottom of the pan and allowing for the water to boil underneath.Also, make sure steam is not escaping from the pan below and contaminating the chocolate. This will ruin it.If more that slight amounts of steam are escaping from the pan, then it is too hot; turn the heat down.

Step #3- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until they are fluffy.

Step #4- Add, the vanilla and, one at a time, the egg yolks, mixing after each one.

Step #5 - Dissolve the baking soda in the milk. 

Step #6 - Add,the flour, white chocolate, and the milk/soda mixture to the butter mixture, alternating between them
as you stir.
Once it's all incorporated, the batter should be smooth and slightly thick.

Step #7 - In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until they form still peaks. This always takes me a different amount of time depending on the day. 'Stiff peaks' means that, when you pull the beaters out of the mixture, the mixture stiffly holds the peak. Having egg whites at room temperature when you start is vital-- cold egg whites are much more difficult to fluff/get to the peaking point.

Step #8 - Fold the egg whites into the batter until well incorporated.Folding is the motion of using a spatula or large spoon to 'lift' the batter over on top of itself as if you were folding it. DO NOT MIX WITH A MIXER!! The purpose of adding fully egg whites to a cake batter is to help the cake become moist and fluffy. If you beat the batter too much, it will beat the fluffy-ness out.

Step #9 - Bake at 350* F. For 9" layers, bake for 20-22 minutes. Make sure the pans are well greased and lined with wax paper.For cupcakes, bake for 10-13 minutes.

The Icing
You can easily make this icing the day before you bake the cake if you need to. Also, this type of cake/frosting freezes well.

Step #1 - Melt two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped pecans and simmer over medium heat until pecans are toasted. (about 10 min). Careful! It's easy to burn the pecans! Remove the pecans from the pan immediately. The pan holds enough heat to burn the pecans even after you've removed the pan from the heat. ALLOW PECANS TO COOL!!!

Step #2 - Beat, with a mixer, the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, milk and powdered sugar, until creamy.

Step #3 - Add cooled pecans and beat until well incorporated. Apply to cake and garnish with toasted pecans if desired.


  1. I would eat this with a side of butter pecan ice cream. You can never have too much of a good thing.

  2. Seriously, I could swim in that icing. Love this recipe!

    1. Thank you! And if you are filling a kiddie pool with icing, please make sure I'm invited. :-)

  3. What a great cake!!
    I just love white chocolate and together with pecans - heaven !

  4. So...What do you do with the evaporated milk/white coco mixture? Or did I miss something.