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Happy 30th birthday Melanie!

March 27, 2011

A few weeks ago, a friend of ours, Matt, asked me to make a special cupcake order for his girlfriend Melanie’s 30th birthday (which is today). I usually don’t do this, mainly because I don’t have the time or the space in my kitchen for tons of cupcake orders, let alone the patience to create the kinds of orders I usually get;  like make 90 cupcakes for a Bar Mitzvah, in 24 hours… all by myself. I keep saying, “Until I get a bigger kitchen or open a bakery, NO ORDERS!” But of course this was a special request for a special person, plus it was more than just an order, it was for a friend. Melanie is awesome, she used to have bright red hair just like I did, she has a tattoo of a sugar skull (and you know my obsession with those) which I’ll talk more about in a minute, and is one of the few females I like and get along with. So I said absolutely, and I was super excited to find out what he had in mind, while also secretly hoping he wasn’t going to order 100 cupcakes, five different kinds in all. But he asked if 30 cupcakes were possible, which was a relief… get it? 30 cupcakes, 30th birthday? Anyway… I suggested that I make 15 red velvet cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and 15 chocolate stout cupcakes with chocolate frosting to make 30 cupcakes… however, Matt informed me of a little nickname Melanie has: “Scrappy Butter Pecan Puerto Rican“… and so he asked if butter pecan cupcakes were possible. Hell yeah, they are! He also told me that Melanie was really interested in those cupcakes I made with the whiskey frosting. So I made 15 of the Maple Irish whiskey-frosted vanilla cupcakes and 15 butter pecan cupcakes.

I had never made butter pecan cupcakes before, and I can’t really ever remember having butter pecan cake to compare it to, and I barely remember having butter pecan ice cream once or twice, so thankfully I found this kick-ass recipe to steer me in the right direction. What can I say? I’m a New Yorker. We aren’t down with a lot of butter pecan stuff! But now I know, and it’s a great recipe to have up your sleeve (recipe coming, after all the pictures). The Maple Irish whiskey buttercream recipe is over here at this post, and I used Magnolia’s vanilla cupcake recipe.

We (Jay & myself) brought them over to her place last night (in a huge ass cake box!) and surprised her with them! She was definitely surprised. Especially at the mini-toppers made of her tattoo (done by her sister, Amanda Rodriguez).


Liners are from Cupcake Social (my new favorite cupcake supply shop), I kept ’em simple in plain black & brown. I wanted them to be unique and special, so I hand wrote the 30’s in red Candy Melts and red sparkly sugar for a little somethin’ extra. Messy looking, but I didn’t want ’em perfect. I wanted them to look like paint. The other “toppers” are a photo of Melanie’s actual tattoo that I mentioned above; I just cropped it, adjusted the brightness & contrast and voila! The other toppers are just letting everyone know what they’re eating. It was actually really cute because it looked like the cupcakes were talking in the box. The butter pecan cupcakes were also sprinkled with gold crystal sugar.

Melanie was really happy with them, which was what I hoped for. Happy birthday, Melanie!

BUTTER PECAN CUPCAKES (adapted from A Cuppy Cake Life from A Taste of Home Cookbook)


  • 1 1/3 cups chopped pecans, toasted (see below)
  • 1  cup softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and remaining cup of butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add the dry mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk. Mix well after each addition. Stir in  the toasted pecans.
  4. Spoon ¼ cup of batter into each liner. Bake for 13-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 3 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.



  • 1 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salted butter, melted (the rule is approx. 1 tablespoon for every cup of pecans)*


  1. In a large skillet, melt  the butter. Add the pecans and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they’re toasted and fragrant, about 10-15 minutes. Do not overcook the pecans. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

..*The amount listed is JUST the amount for filling the cupcakes. For topping them, toast an extra half cup to a cup of pecans, I used pecan halves for the tops (I also added a little light brown sugar as they were toasting for a caramelized kinda flavor).



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Cream together the butter, vanilla and 3 cups of the powdered sugar.
  2. Once well incorporated, add evaporated milk alternating with a cup of sugar at a time until all ingredients have been added. Beat on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Spread or pipe on completely cooled cupcakes. Top with a few toasted pecan halves & gold crystal sugar.

I halved the recipe and I got about 16 cupcakes, I did not halve the frosting recipe and yet I got just enough. I pipe a little high… If you wanted to make it a cake, I’d say two 8″ pans would work. Just check the timing in the oven.

I was really happy with how these turned out, and like I said, Melanie & Matt were too.. and that’s the important thing. So no… I am not doing cupcake orders now. Stay tuned until that bakery is opened, or until I get a gourmet kitchen with more counter space. But for now I’m just glad these were a success.

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  1. So exciting! My mother is a freak for butter pecan anything, but I’ve never seen a cake or cupcake recipe that didn’t come from a box. Thank you for doing the research. I will try these out for her next birthday!

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