When experimenting with new cake flavours, I quite often find that I can't taste whatever flavour I was trying to emphasize strongly enough - it always seems muted against the background taste and texture of regular cake. So I am very happy to report that these cupcakes did not disappoint. The pear is there, in both texture and flavour, and comes through after the first hit of creamy caramel in the frosting.
The caramel itself comes from this, a product that my brother's parents-in-law left after a party at my Mum's house a while ago. It's from the States, and is really spectacularly yummy. I had four pots originally, and the first three were eaten with apples and ice-cream, but I wanted to try it out as a flavour in frosting too. Since I have none left (boo!), the next time I do this I'll probably just use a caramel flavour ice-cream sauce, or even some honey, which I think would go just as nicely with the pears, and is what I recommend for anybody who can't get Marzetti. Incidentally, the quantities below make only enough frosting for half the cupcakes. I usually frost only half of any given batch of cupcakes if I'm making a cream cheese based topping, as you should really keep them in the fridge, and I never seem to have the space.
The one change I would make to this recipe would be to add another pear. I didn't want too moist a cake to start a cake with, as I knew the frosting would be nice and gooey, and although I think the cakes are lovely as they are (they have a lovely fluffy texture), it would have been better to use up more of my pears!!
Pear and Caramel Cupcakes
You will need:
125g plain flour
125g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large pear, peeled, cored and grated
200g package full-fat cream cheese
1 small pot caramel apple dip or 3-4 tbsp caramel sauce for ice-cream
2 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
- Line a 12 cup cupcake tin with paper liners. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Place flour, baking powder, bicarb. of soda, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until all is combined. You can go the original way, and cream the butter and sugar together, then slowly add the eggs and flour and leaveners if you like, but since you'll be adding fruit to the mixture, you won't get as light a cake anyway, so I don't see the point. If you don't have a mixer though, proceed à la Mrs. Beeton, with a wooden spoon, and consider the experience a work-out.
- Add the pear - try grating it into the bowl directly, so you catch all the juice. Mix.
- Transfer the mixture to the cupcake tin, trying to fill each indentation equally. I use an ice-cream scoop; aim for two-thirds full.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
- Mix frosting ingredients together in a bowl until just combined. You might not need the extra sugar, so add that last.
- Smooth over cooled cupcakes, and refrigerate until 30 minutes or so before serving.