Double-Maple Cupcakes

½ cup granulated sugar
5 Tbs butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp imitation maple flavoring
2 large eggs
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup 1% lowfat milk
¼ cup maple syrup

3 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp imitation maple flavoring
1/8 tsp salt
1¾ cups powdered sugar

Toasted pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. To prepare cupcakes, beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and ¼ tsp. salt in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine milk and ¼ cup maple syrup. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Prepare frosting: Beat 3 Tbsp. Maple syrup and next 4 ingredients (syrup through 1/8 tsp. salt) at medium speed of a mixer 1 minute. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating just until blended (do not overbeat). Spread the frosting over cupcakes. Dip into toasted pecans pieces. Makes 12 cupcakes.