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Buckle up, cupcakes, there is major cuteness ahoy.
What, like you’ve never made a recipe just so you could top it with an adorable miniature candy fruit?
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Actually, these pear cupcakes served a dual purpose: I got to indulge my love of whimsy and painfully literal cupcake decorating, and also got to address what is known in our house as The Pear Situation:
Remember when I wrote about how I’m a sucker for a good deal? Well, recently I got a chance to buy a giant box of delicious pears for $30. The box was massive, so I split it with a friend…and still ended up with over 50 pears in my half box. They were rock-hard at first, but within a few days they all ripened at once, which means after I’d gorged myself eating them plain, I was left scrambling for things to do with them.
I asked my Facebook peeps for ideas, and got tons of great suggestions for pear recipes. I’ll be sharing some of my pear creations over the next month—spaced out so that you don’t suffer from pear fatigue like I am. (#firstworldproblems much?) First up: Pear Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream!
These cupcakes are made with diced fresh pears and a hint of cinnamon. The flavor is subtle (which is true of most pear baked goods) but you can still taste the pears, and the moist texture is amazing. I topped them with a sweet, delicately flavored honey buttercream—it doesn’t overwhelm the light pear flavor, but instead complements it perfectly. I added a splash of orange blossom water to the buttercream, because I am an old person and want all of my sweets to taste like flowers. I loved the floral and citrus notes it added, but you can skip it or substitute another extract like almond, orange, or lemon.
Each cupcake was topped with one of these Swiss Petite Pear candies from Oh Nuts. I used them as part of the candy buffet at our Very Hungry Caterpillar party back in April, and afterward, when I saw I had a few dozen left, I decided to save them for some cupcake decorations. As with most cupcake toppers, they’re absolutely not necessary but also absolutely adorable.
If you want to try your hand at making your own, you can use marzipan to make candy pears quickly and easily. Sweetapolita has a marzipan pear recipe she topped with gold glitter, and Bakingdom stuffed hers with a chocolate-dipped hazelnut.
Happy weekend, everyone! I hope your days are filled with cupcakes and sweetness and, maybe, wee fruit-shaped candies.
Pear Cupcakes With Honey Buttercream
For the Pear Cupcakes:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 stick
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups finely diced pears from 2 large ripe pears
For the Honey Buttercream:
- 1 3/4 cups 12.25 oz granulated sugar
- 9 egg whites room temperature
- 1 lb butter softened but still cool
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup honey (6 oz )
- 1 tsp orange blossom water optional
To Make the Pear Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with 24 paper liners; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low, and mix in the finely diced pears. Don't worry if the batter looks broken at this point. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the flour is almost entirely combined. Stop the mixer and finish by hand, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl well.
- Divide the batter among the lined cups. Fill them only about 2/3 full--this recipe produces cupcakes with a flat top, so if they're overfilled, they will spread out instead of crowning, and be less attractive. Bake until the tops are golden brown and spring back when lightly touched, about 20-22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely at room temperature before frosting them.
To Make the Honey Buttercream:
- Combine the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer, and whisk them together. Choose a small saucepan that lets you fit the base of the stand mixer snugly into the top of the saucepan—this is your makeshift hot water bath. (Alternately, you can use a different bowl or an actual bain marie and then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl once it’s heated.) Add an inch of water to the bottom of the saucepan, and bring the water to a simmer.
- Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom isn’t in contact with the water, and heat the egg white mixture. Whisk frequently so that the egg whites don’t cook. Continue to heat the whites until they are hot to the touch, and when you rub a bit between your fingers, you don’t feel any grittiness from the sugar. Once the whites are hot, transfer the mixing bowl to your mixer and fit it with a whisk attachment.
- Beat the whites on high speed until they are no longer warm to the touch—feel the outside of the bowl, and make sure that it is around room temperature. Depending on your mixer and the temperature of your environment, this may take 10-20 minutes, or more. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the softened but cool butter in small chunks, a tablespoon at a time, making sure to wait in between additions. It may separate or look a little gloopy at this point—fear not. Once all of the butter is added, increase the speed again and whip until it comes together and is light and fluffy. If, after 5 minutes, it hasn’t come together, refrigerate the mixing bowl for 5-7 minutes, to cool the mixture down, and whip it again.
- Add the salt, honey, vanilla extract, and orange blossom water, if you’re using it, and mix until well-blended. The buttercream can be made in advance and kept at room temperature if you’re going to use it the same day, or refrigerated. If it’s been chilled, let it sit at room temperature until it softens, then re-whip it to get the fluffy texture back before you use it.