SNOW!! It actually snowed last night. I think after 7 years I must be getting used to living in a place with all 4 seasons (I grew up in California, where “winter” means a lightweight jacket) because I didn’t cry or even get too depressed when I saw the snow this morning.

But don’t worry, the calendar still says it’s fall, so bring on the maple pumpkin pecan bliss.

My parents have a pecan tree in their backyard. I never paid much attention to it or to the nuts it produced because I thought pecans were disgusting back then. I’m so jealous of them now. Do you know how much pecan halves cost?? It’s kind of unreal watching myself grow more and more like the “old people” I swore I would never be like. Pretty soon I’ll be doing crosswords and eating prunes all day long.

These cupcakes rock. Don’t be fooled by the long title, it’s really not too labor-intensive. I’m bringing these to our church’s fall festival tonight, and am really excited because the pecans will deter all the children (who are surely just as foolish as I was when I was a kid.) This means the adults will have a shot at getting something decent before the mobs come to ransack the dessert table. (I think it’s appropriate to call any gathering of children a mob around Halloween time.)

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Pecan Frosting

Source: adapted from Baked Perfection

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used 1/4 teaspoon ground)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking; let cool 10 or 15 minutes. (If you’ve never done browned butter, here’s a great guide).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, and eggs. Add the brown-butter. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined. My batter was rather lumpy, but it bakes just fine that way.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick  inserted in centers comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Frost with Maple Pecan Frosting. Makes 15 cupcakes. Which is why I doubled it.

Maple Pecan Frosting

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup pecans toasted and finely chopped (I used a food processor)
toasted pecan halves for the top, optional

In a bowl, with a mixer on low, beat cream cheese and butter until well blended. Beat in powdered sugar (adjust the amount of sugar to reach your desired consistency); add syrup; add pecans; beat until smooth.