Makes 18 cupcakes
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons CRISCO shortening, melted
1 tablespoon water
54 pecan halves (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup CRISCO shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°.
For Topping, combine brown sugar, Crisco, and water in a small mixer bowl. Spoon 1 teaspoon of mixture into each of 18 well-greased 2-7/8-inch muffin cups. Arrange 3 pecan halves top-side-down in each cup.
For Cake, cream Crisco, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl. Combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, mixing until blended after each addition. Spoon batter into muffin cups filling each about two-thirds full.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Run a pointed knife around each cupcake to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks to cool.