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Her winning recipe is based on a French dessert, said creator Judi Baldwin, who is originally from England and lives in Huntsville with her husband, Christopher. The cupcake versions of Omelette á la Norvégienne (known as Baked Alaska) were perfectly sized for her and Christopher to enjoy.

8 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
10 ounces (a scant 1 1/2 cups) plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 cup Texas pecan halves
4 ounces (about 2/3 cup) self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) very finely chopped Texas pecans
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
2 large eggs
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Caramel sundae syrup
1 pint butter pecan ice cream

  • Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and the pecan halves. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes, or until sugar loses its grainy appearance. Pour pecan mixture onto a piece of foil and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a six-partition jumbo muffin pan.
  • Mix 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) sugar, flour, baking powder and the finely chopped pecans in a medium bowl.
  • Add coffee granules to brewed coffee, then add it to flour mixture along with eggs and remaining butter. Blend until creamy and smooth. Add 1 teaspoon cold water and stir to combine.
  • Divide mixture among the six muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • When cakes are cool, cut a conical section from the center of each cake, about 1/2 inch from the edge, taking care not to cut through the bottoms of the cake.
  • When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400 degrees and make the meringue. Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. While continuing to beat, add 6 ounces sugar, cornstarch and cream of tartar gradually.
  • Return cakes to the cleaned muffin pan and pack hollowed centers of each cake with ice cream. (Return remaining ice cream to freezer.)
  • Working quickly, spread or pipe meringue atop each cake, making sure to completely cover ice cream and cake.
  • Place in oven for about 4 to 5 minutes, until meringue begins to color.
  • Remove cakes from the pan to individual serving plates. Drizzle each with caramel syrup and divide caramelized pecans equally over each. Serve immediately.

Servings: 6. Serving size: 1 cake. Per serving: 821 calories, 9.8 g protein, 49.3 g fat, 82.7 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g dietary fiber, 443 mg sodium, 57.6 g sugars, 178 mg cholesterol

Judi Baldwin, Mid-South Synergy