pear & vanilla bean filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream35

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Pear, Vanilla (Sunday March 30, 2008 at 10:18 am)

pear & vanilla bean filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream

I made these here cupcakes for the first ever bay area cupcake meetup that happened this weekend. A lovely group of people showed up at Dolores Park in San Francisco with creative and tasty cupcakes to share. We talked shop and caused a bit of a scene. Apparently the idea of a group of people meeting up in a park to eat cupcakes is unusual. Go figure! If you are in the bay area sign-up for the meetup we plan to meet seasonally. The next gathering will be sometime this summer.

Back to the cupcakes… I often think of fall when I think of pears (much like apples), but I hadn’t worked with pears in a cupcake and was eager to do so. I decided to “spring them up” a bit and paired the pear with vanilla bean. I enjoyed the combination and all in all consider the cupcake a success.

UPDATE: Slight adjustment to remove baking soda which should help with this recipe.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
~30 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 1/2’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: As mentioned previously with this recipe, if you overfill the cupcakes, they will overflow and then sink. To be on the safe side I am now recommending that you fill the cupcakes 1/2 full. With a big batch you may still have some problems with one or two of them, but the majority should work out just fine. Your oven must be for sure hot enough, so it doesn’t hurt to get an oven thermometer and make sure it’s at the correct temperature. These cupcakes are temperamental, but the resulting cake is worth it.

chocolate cupcake
chocolate cupcake

Pear Filling

1 good sized pear, pealed, pitted, and chopped into small dice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 vanilla bean

1. Add pear and water to a medium sized pan. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch then stir into the pears.
3. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the pears.
4. Cook until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Note: The filling can be made a day in advance and stored covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

pear filling
pear filling

Soft Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy.
2. Sift powdered sugar into the mixer bowl (right on top of the beaten butter). Beat to combine.
3. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the frosting.
4. Add the vanilla and the milk. Beat until combined.

Pear Chips

1 good sized pear

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice thin cross-sections of pear.
3. Place on a baking sheet making sure that the slices do not touch.
4. Let them dry in a 200 degree oven for about 1 hour (depends on how thin the slices are) flipping 2 or 3 times until they are dried out and no longer soggy.

pear chip
pear chips

Assemble
1. Fill the cupcakes with the pear filling using the cone method. This post has step by step photos of the method.
2. Frost with frosting and top with a pear chip.

cupcake meetup cupcakes
cupcakes from the meetup

Sweet & Salty Honey Peanut Cupcakes36

Posted by in Cheese, Experimental Recipe, Honey (Tuesday March 18, 2008 at 8:59 am)

Sweet & Salty Honey Peanut Cupcakes

My neighbor is a bee keeper. Mostly she keeps bees in a more lush area of the city, but she also has some hives in her backyard. She dropped off some of her backyard honey the other day. I just had to make some cupcakes with it! This creation consists of honey chiffon cake, layered with some salty peanuts, and then topped with a honey cream cheese frosting.

I had some challenges with the cake and wasn’t able to experiment enough with it to get it to my high standards. The posted recipe is just shy of what I would deem acceptable, but the frosting is a definite winner.

I have had some people ask me, “How do I do it?” what with a demanding full-time job, a baby, the blog… Well, I don’t really do it… not like I used to, anyway. It’s definitely a lot harder to devote the time required to get a great post together given that they often involve recipe development of some sort. I am exploring other content ideas to help bridge the gap between posts, but I don’t want to just link or refer to other existing content on the web – there are already plenty of blogs doing just that and doing it well. So, we shall see. In the meanwhile, explore the archives if you haven’t had a chance.

I am planning on baking next for the first ever meet-up of the Bay Area Cupcakes Take the Cake group. My inspiration for my next creation is color and the plan is to pair chocolate and fruit in a few different combinations… Join us if you are from the area!

Honey Peanut Cupcakes
~9 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2 tablespoons peanuts, unsalted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 1 tablespoon flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons grape seed oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup thick honey
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Chop peanuts together with the salt and set aside. If you can’t find unsalted peanuts use the salted but only add a pinch of additional salt. Taste the chopped nuts and make sure they are salty.
2. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
3. In a medium bowl, combine oil, milk, egg yolks, and honey. Stir to combine.
4. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
5. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
6. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
7. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
8. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
9. Fill cupcake cups about 1/3 full. The sprinkle peanut/salt mixture over top. Fill with batter up to 2/3s full and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Sweet & Salty Honey Peanut Cupcakes
layering in some peanuts

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces or 1/2 package of Philly cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons thick honey

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and the honey. Beat until combined.
5. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Note: The honey I used in both recipes was very thick, meaning it was not pourable unless I warmed it in a water bath first. This works great for the frosting as it keeps it thick. Note that if you use pourable honey the texture of both recipes may change slightly!

Assemble
1. Frost.
2. Topped with chopped, salted peanuts.