Robicelli's Pecan Potato Chip Cupcakes Recipe

Robicelli's Pecan Potato Chip Cupcakes Recipe

[Photograph: Eric Isaac]

Reminiscent of a day at the fair, Pecan Potato Chip Cupakes from Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes blend sweet and salty in an unexpected way. Potato chips and pecans are drizzled with a bourbon-kissed butterscotch sauce atop a swirl of vanilla buttercream, which decorates a cake stuffed with more chips and nuts.

Why this recipe works:

  • The salty crunch of potato chips and the nutty flavor of pecans melds well with the butterscotch drizzle, and provides an enjoyable textural contrast to the vanilla buttercream.
  • The cake in these cupcakes contains pecans and potato chip pieces, so the flavor of the topping is echoed throughout the entire dessert, not just on top.

From Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes by Allison and Matt Robicelli. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Studio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, a Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Allison and Matt Robicelli, 2013.

  • Yield:Makes 24 cupcakes
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour 30 minutes


  • Salted Butterscotch
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (we use light, but dark is fine too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
  • Pecan–Potato Chip Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup potato chips, crushed finely
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Vanilla Buttercream
  • One recipe French Buttercream (ingredients below)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • French Buttercream
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 lbs cold butter, preferably European
  • To Finish
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup potato chips, crushed


  1. 1.

    Salted Butterscotch: Melt the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, over low to medium heat.

  2. 2.

    When the butter is melted, immediately dump in all the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt and increase the heat to medium-high. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture near constantly, making sure you get into those corners so there’s nothing hiding, just waiting to burn and ruin all your hard work.

  3. 3.

    We’re going to keep cooking and stirring this for about 5 minutes, and we’re going to be judging our next move based on sight. Initially, the sugar mixture will look like wet sand.

  4. 4.

    In a few moments, it’s going to start looking like molten lava, bubbling up and spitting at you. This is good! Just don’t forget to keep stirring!
    Shortly, it’s going to stop looking like lava and stop feeling heavy like wet sand. This means the sugar is melting and we’re ready to add the cream.

  5. 5.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and, standing back a bit so you don’t
    burn your face off, slowly pour in all the cream. Slowly stir with your
    wooden spoon (corners! Don’t forget!), making sure all the sugar mix gets
    incorporated with the cream.

  6. 6.

    Turn the heat to low and return your pan to the stove. Replace your trusty
    wooden spoon with a sturdy wire whisk (well done, spoon).

  7. 7.

    Simmer the butterscotch for 8 minutes, whisking occasionally.

  8. 8.

    Remove from the heat, transfer to a heatproof bowl, and stir continuously
    for 1 minute off the heat. Add the vanilla and bourbon, if using, and continue to stir until well combined. When it is cool enough to the touch, taste the butterscotch for seasoning and add more salt, vanilla, or bourbon to taste.

  9. 9.

    Pecan-Potato Chip Cake Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with 24 baking cups.

  10. 10.

    Place the flour and potato chips in a food processor and process until the chips are finely ground. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and baking powder and continue to pulse until well mixed. Set aside.

  11. 11.

    Melt the butter in a microwave at 60 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Keep the butter warm—do not allow it to sit and cool off.

  12. 12.

    In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and egg white on
    medium-low speed for 2 minutes until light yellow and lightly foamy.

  13. 13.

    Increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Pour the warm butter into the eggs slowly, so that the mixture tempers and the eggs do not scramble. Once the butter is added, reduce the speed to medium-low.

  14. 14.

    With the mixer running, add the milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix for 1 minute until well combined.

  15. 15.

    Add the potato chip mixture. Mix on medium until just combined, 10 to 20 seconds.

  16. 16.

    Add the pecans.

  17. 17.

    Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer and use the paddle to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, ensuring that everything is well mixed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow the batter to hydrate.

  18. 18.

    Scoop the batter into the prepared baking cups, filling them two thirds of the way.

  19. 19.

    Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

  20. 20.

    The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Let cool completely.

  21. 21.

    Vanilla Buttercream: In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, add water, then add sugar, corn syrup, and cream of tartar. The last two help keep the sugar from crystallizing. Put the pot on high heat. It's going to be there for a while. Be patient and keep your eye on it.

  22. 22.

    Put the yolk and eggs in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and turn to high. Just let it go! Eggs will triple in volume and go to the "ribbons" stage. You can't overwhip!

  23. 23.

    Wait on the sugar, looking for 235°F, aka "soft ball." When it happens, be ready to move quickly. Turn off the mixer and add the xanthan gum, turn back up to medium. Remove the thermometer from the hot sugar. Lift with two hands. Rest the lip of the saucepan on the edge of the mixer bowl.

  24. 24.

    Slowly tilt and pour the sugar in a slow, steady stream down the side of the bowl. Don't go too fast! If you do there will be chunks of scrambled eggs in your buttercream.

  25. 25.

    Once the sugar is all in, turn the mixer to high. Beat until cool. Gauge this by putting the inside of your wrist to the outside of the bowl. It's more accurate than your hands. Switch out the whisk for the paddle. Next we're adding the butter. It's too heavy for the whisk and you'll end up breaking your stand mixer if you stay with the whisk.

  26. 26.

    Start cutting the butter into thin pieces - you could shave it with a cheese slicer if you'd like. Add the butter piece by piece.

  27. 27.

    Once your butter is added, add the vanilla and mix on high to combine. It should be fluffy and make you want to eat it with your fingers.

  28. 28.

    Assembly Fill a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip with the vanilla buttercream and pipe onto each pecan–potato chip cupcake.

  29. 29.

    Sprinkle the tops with roasted pecans and crushed potato chips.

  30. 30.

    Drizzle the salted butterscotch over the cupcakes. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to set up.