Yield: 12 standard cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon (120 grams/4 ounces/1 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
120 grams (~4 ounces) marzipan, such as Odense Marzipan, 7-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6) or homemade, chopped. *or almond paste
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (30 grams/1 ounce) ground almonds
1/4 cup (125 mL) diced or pureed pear (about 1 large very ripe pear)
1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line standard cupcake pan with cupcake/muffin liners of choice.
2. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together, whisk and set aside.
3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream the butter, sugar and marzipan until light, fluffy, and smooth--about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and for another moment until blended.
4. Add eggs one at a time, scraping side of bowl with spatula between additions, and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated.
5. Add dry mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for 2 minutes.
6. Add ground almonds and diced pear (or puree) and mix by hand until incorporated.
7. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners (I use a scoop to ensure consistency) and bake in middle of oven until tops turn golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out just clean (a few crumbs is okay), about 18 minutes.
8. Remove pan from oven and carefully remove cupcakes from tray onto cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
Caramel Swiss Buttercream
Yield: ~4 cups
1 cup (200 g/7 oz) sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
1/4 cup (60 mL) heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 1/2 cups (340 g/12 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large egg whites (120 g/4 oz)
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
The first step is making the salted caramel (you can also do a non-salted caramel by omitting the sea salt), to set aside to cool while you make the Swiss Buttercream. You then add the cooled caramel sauce it to the buttercream as the very last step. I haven’t tried buying ready-made gourmet caramel sauce and adding it, but I suspect it would taste nothing short of awesome.
1. Place 130 grams (5 ounces or 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the pot with a dampened pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling from time to time. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter, so be careful. Let cool.
2. Place butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (flat beater) and beat on medium speed (I use #4 on my mixer), until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
3. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer clean with lemon juice, and place egg whites and remaining sugar into bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling–you don’t want to cook the eggs). Whisk occasionally and gently until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160° on a candy thermometer.
4. Remove the bowl from heat, and place back onto the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5-6 minutes). Once the bottom of the bowl is neutral and no longer warm to the touch, reduce speed to medium-low, and add beaten butter, one cup at a time, whisking well after each addition.
5. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add cooled caramel, and beat until smooth (about 3-5 minutes).
6. Prepare to taste the most incredible buttercream you will ever encounter.
*Note: You can make this Salted Caramel Buttercream by whisking generous pinch of Fleur de Sel into caramel before it cools, as found in my Sweet & Salty: Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake
*Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Caramel Buttercream
Marzipan Pear Toppers
yield: 12 ~one-inch pears
You will need:
120 grams (4 ounces) marzipan (such as Odense Marzipan or almond paste)
Gold luster dust (such as Super Gold 43-1233 Luster Dust 2g)
Gold non-toxic glitter (aka disco dust), optional
Clove for stem, optional
1. Divide the marzipan or almond paste into 12 equal pieces or weigh each at 10 grams for ease. Knead to soften, then roll into ball and create pear shape using your fingers and make a small indent at the top and bottom of pear.
2. Dust the pears with gold luster dust using a dry paintbrush you've designated for food and add a small bit of clove (or anything you desire for stem) and sprinkle the tops with gold non-toxic glitter (aka disco dust), if desired.
3. Let sit loosely covered at room temperature for a few hours and place atop frosted cupcakes.
1. I used Ateco tip #887 in a large pastry bag to frost cupcakes.
2. Store finished cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, but be sure they are completely cool first. Best enjoyed day 1.
3. You could easily make quick, simple and lovely marzipan pears without any luster dust.
Good luck & enjoy!