Trouble is, I’ve been home for a week, as of tomorrow, and I’ve had these cupcakes sitting around waiting to show off to you all since before my vacation even started, so really, you shoulda been yelling at me for being such a slacker.
You know how it is when you get home from vacation, though. You don’t want to do anything for at least a month. You have to take a little vacation due to your totally awesome, but insanely busy, vacation.
Here’s what’s really been going down in my house: me, couch, T.V., sweats, blanket. And Loki.
Somehow, I’ve managed to cook, or at least participate in the cooking of, meals for my family, and I’ve maintained normal daily hygiene.
Otherwise, I’m like a giant Darla shaped slug in a rotating selection of PJs, sweats, geek tees, and mismatched socks (due to lack of post vacation laundry washing).
I haven’t even gone grocery shopping yet. You know how empty a pantry is after over a week on vacation. Yet, somehow, I’ve managed to stretch out what we have into enough meals to get us a through until at least tomorrow.
It’s like a vacation miracle.
I reach into the pantry and pull out a box of crackers, two fruit leathers, marshmallows, and a can of tomato sauce, and somehow we have chicken parmigiana for dinner.
Miracle, I tell you.
Here, read about these cupcakes, I’m gonna go see if I can make some chili with mandarin orange slices, frosted flakes, and peanut butter.
P.S. These are totally amazingly delicious cupcakes with toasty hazelnuts in them and awesome pear frosting, so yeah, you wanna read about them.
To incorporate the pear into my cupcakes, I tried several things, all of which were massive failures, because, basically, pears are not as much like apples the they seem. They do not make the same magic as apples, just because you subbed them in.
In the end, I shredded my pear into a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. I allowed to pair to sit while I baked the cupcakes, until juice stopped dripping from it.
With the shredded pear that, I roasted it on the stove top, very gently, until it was dry and a uniform golden brown color. This would go into the frosting. I set this aside to cool, while I worked on the cupcakes.
Next, I cooked the pear juice and a little sugar down into a simple syrup.
Although the simple syrup does have a fruity quality, it’s not particularly pear flavored. It was extremely tasty, though, so I would definitely do it again.
The same is true of the roasted pear that I folded into my buttercream. It gave the buttercream a delicious, light fruit flavor, but it wasn’t instantly recognizable as pear.
To add more fun and flavor to my cupcakes, I decided to make toppers out of chocolate covered hazelnuts and marzipan. I toasted and dipped the hazelnuts myself, but I have no doubt that you can buy them premade.
Now, wrap each hazelnut in marzipan (I tinted mine with just a touch of green coloring), and shape it into a pear, with the hazelnut at the bottom (in the fatter portion on the pear). Once you get the shape just right, lightly brush gold luster dust all over the pear. Finish each pear off with a chocolate sprinkle for a stem.
Alright. Before I even address the cupcakes, let me talk to you about these pears. The truth is, I added the hazelnuts on a whim, because I thought it’d tie the decorations into the actual cupcakes a little better. As a matter of fact, these ended up being so darn wonderful, I almost forgot about the cupcakes!
The dark chocolate and toasty flavor of the hazelnut were amazing with the almond-y sweetness of the marzipan. Everyone who tried one had nothing but wonderful things to say about these little hazelnut pears. If you don’t feel like doing all the work of the cupcakes, the frosting, and the pears, you at least have to try these tasty little candies sometime. Trust me.
As for the cupcakes themselves, they are, admittedly, one of my better cupcakes. The toasted hazelnuts in the fluffy yellow cake are just wonderful, and the sweet fruitiness from the simple syrup adds a lovely moistness to the cakes themselves. The frosting is a perfect compliment with a lightly fruity sweetness that doesn’t overpower the cupcakes in anyway.
It’s truly the little candy pears that steal the show here, though.
They taste like little drops of heaven.
Did you hear that? Little drops of heaven.
Toasted Hazelnut Pear Cupcakes
with Roasted Pear Buttercream Frosting
Makes 12 standard cucpakes
FOR THE FROSTING
2 pears, peeled, shredded, and juice reserved
1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. (about 4 cups or 500 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)
FOR THE CUPCAKES
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (113 grams) sour cream
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted at 375 degrees for 10 minutes
Reserved juice from 2 pears
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
To make the frosting: Set aside the pear juice for the cupcakes.
In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, gently roast the shredded pear until all of the moisture has cooked out, and it is uniformly golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter for 3 minutes. Beat in the sugar and salt until combined. Add 2 tablespoons heavy cream and the cooled pear, and whisk on high for 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add more cream, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. If it is too thin, add more sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
Stir in the vanilla and food coloring, if desired.
To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl, making sure there are no streaks of flour remaining (do not over mix). Gently stir in the hazelnuts until evenly distributed.
Place three tablespoons of batter in each of the paper liners in the prepared muffin pan.
Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, combine the reserved pear juice with 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook on medium high heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer until the mixture has the consistency of maple syrup.
Poke holes in the cupcakes with a skewer or toothpick and brush each cupcake generously with the simple syrup.
Top with pear buttercream frosting.
Recipe by Darla