'Throwdown’ recipe is a secret, but Vera Stewart tells how to make chocolate pecan cupcakes

Cake Challenge

Vera Stewart is known for her Very Vera cakes, and soon she'll be even better known because of her appearance at 9 tonight on the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay.


Stewart was selected to compete with Flay in a carrot cake "throwdown." While the production was top-secret, it wasn't a surprise to me, because I was contacted by the network in mid-April about using my kitchen for an upcoming show.

Depending on how the episode is edited, my kitchen should be making a cameo appearance when Stewart prepares her carrot cake in a home kitchen. Other parts of the episode were shot at Stewart's business and at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The carrot cake recipe is a family secret, but Stewart has agreed to let me share another of her dessert recipes, one for buttery chocolate pecan cupcakes. If you keep unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder in your pantry, you can whip these up any time, as the remaining ingredients are refrigerator and pantry staples.

If your family doesn't care for nuts, you can omit the pecans and the recipe will yield 16 cupcakes instead of 18.

Stewart tops her cupcakes with a simple chocolate frosting that includes cocoa powder and powdered sugar, and it will be my go-to chocolate frosting recipe from here on. It is easy to prepare and makes a large batch, more than you'll need to frost these cupcakes.

Enjoy Stewart's cupcakes at your next barbecue or covered-dish supper .

Vera's Buttery Chocolate Pecan Cupcakes

For the cupcakes

4 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup butter

¼ teaspoon butter flavoring

1½ cups chopped pecans

1¾ cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set oven to 325 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter. Add butter flavoring and pecans. Stir mixture to coat pecans. Combine sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. Mix only until blended. Do not beat. Add chocolate and nut mixture and again mix without beating. Pour into paper-lined muffin tins. Bake 30-35 minutes. Makes 18 cupcakes.

Chocolate Frosting

¾ cup cocoa

4 cups powdered sugar

½ cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup milk

Mix cocoa and sugar together. Cream half the cocoa mixture with butter. Blend in vanilla and ¼-cup milk. Add remaining cocoa sugar mixture and remaining milk. Refrigerate and cool before frosting cupcakes.


Unsweetened chocolate (you need 4 squares)

Imitation butter flavoring

1½ cups chopped pecans

Cocoa powder

Powdered sugar (4 cups)

1 pound butter (you'll need 3 sticks in all)

Refrigerator/Pantry: 1¾ cups granulated sugar, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 4 large eggs, vanilla extract, ½ cup milk

See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on television station WJBF (Channel 6). For more recipes, check out our recipe archive at recipes.augusta.com.

Reach Karin Calloway at karin.calloway@comcast.net. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karincalloway.

What's cooking in your kitchen?

Do you have a favorite recipe or a signature dish that you are known for? Share it with The Augusta Chronicle.

We're looking for your best kitchen creation, whether it's a simple chili with a twist or an elaborate continental concoction.

Our food writer, Karin Calloway, will re-create your dish, and we'll feature your kitchen dish on the Wednesday Food page of The Chronicle.

Send your recipe and contact information to karin.calloway@comcast.net, or write to Recipe Favorites, Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928.

Restaurant favorites decoded

Is there some favorite dish served at a restaurant that you would like to cook at home? Tell us what the dish is, and where you've had it, and food writer Karin Calloway will try to track it down for you.

Write to karin.calloway@comcast.net, or write to Restaurant Recipes, Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928.

Watch it

Tune in to watch Vera Stewart on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on Food Network. Here's when to watch:

TODAY: 9 p.m.
THURSDAY: Midnight
JULY 31: 7 p.m.

Learn more: See www.foodnetwork.com

Karin's cake cook-off

Do you think you're a better cook than our food writer, Karin Calloway? Prove it. We're holding a bakeoff that will pit your pound cake against a pound cake from Karin.

We'll need your recipe, and we'll need you to bake a cake, which will be judged at the First Friday on Sept. 3. The first step to enter is to submit a recipe. Send it to karin.calloway@comcast.net by 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20. One recipe per cook, please. Include a contact name and telephone number with your entry.

If your recipe is selected for the competition, we'll need you to bake a cake and bring it to The Augusta Chronicle's office at 725 Broad St. by 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2. The winner of the bakeoff will receive an assortment of cookbooks and other goodies.