Marzipan & Pear Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

A friend of ours was having a dinner party, and requested that I make her a dozen cupcakes for her to serve as dessert.  I was honored and excited to try a new flavor on my to-bake list!  Salted caramel is one of my most favorite sweet things…actually I just love the addition of sea salt to desserts these days.  These are some of my most favorite cupcakes that I’ve ever tasted, hands down.  The cake is dense, yet moist and yummy and the salted caramel buttercream is TO DIE FOR.  Next time I might add more pear because the flavor could have been a bit stronger.

Now, since I do not pretend to be a perfect baker or really know what I’m doing in the kitchen at all times, I will share some info about my foibles with this recipe.  The centers of the cupcakes fell a bit and I had to make the icing twice to make it work – double gasp.  I didn’t let my butter and eggs sit out long enough, so the batter didn’t emulsify correctly.  I know I just threw a big science word out there, but it’s important.  It basically just means that all the ingredients need to be at the right temperature so they combine correctly.  Have you ever seen your egg/butter mixture curdle a bit?  That’s bad and means that it didn’t emulsify correctly…that’s what happened to me here.  Then I burnt my first batch of caramel and it was realllly dark and smelled toasted, no good.  Then I scrambled my first batch of eggs over the double boiler.  So I really messed these up the first try, but I kept going and it they turned out fabulously.  But I’m just sharing because I know it seems like I totally might know what I’m doing, but I really don’t!  It’s just trial and error and seeing what works in your kitchen.

On a positive note, aren’t my pictures of this cupcake pretty great?!  I am getting better with lighting, slowly but surely…


for the cupcakes, you will need:
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
4 ounces marzipan, such as Odense Marzipan, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground almonds
1/4 cup diced or pureed pear (about 1 large very ripe pear)

Preheat oven to 325°F and line standard cupcake pan with liners.  In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together, whisk and set aside.

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 mix until blended.

Add eggs one at a time, scraping side of bowl with spatula between additions, and mix on medium-low speed until incorporated.  Add dry mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add ground almonds and pear and mix by hand until incorporated.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners 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.  Remove pan from oven and carefully remove cupcakes from tray onto cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting, at least an hour.

for the salted caramel buttercream, you will need:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
generous pinch sea salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

The first step is to make the salted caramel so it can cool while you make the buttercream. Place 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, brushing down the sides of the pot with a dampened pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.  Once the mixture boils, stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling the pan from time to time.  Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter, so be very careful, boiling sugar hurts like the dickens.  Transfer to a bowl, whisk in sea salt and let cool.

Place butter in bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Wash and 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, water. Whisk regularly and gently until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160° on a candy thermometer.

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 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.

Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add cooled caramel, and beat until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.

To assemble:
Fill a large pastry bag with the buttercream.  Using an open star tip, like this one, pipe heaps of the heavenly buttercream on each cupcake.  Sprinkle with some pretty sprinkles, like these.  Devour, then repeat.  Dare you to only eat one, bet you can’t do it!

Makes: 12 cupcakes + 4 cups buttercream
Time: cupcakes – 20 minutes + 20 minutes baking time / buttercream – 45 minutes
From: Sweetapolita

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  1. Posted January 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Those cupcakes look so pretty and that combo of flavors sounds awesome. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till Monday night and I’d love it if you’d come by and link your cupcakes up.

    • Ali
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Lisa, I did share the link on your blog, great idea!!

  2. Posted January 2, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    What a delicious cupcake recipe is this! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Posted January 3, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    What a delicious sounding flavor combination! Your cupcakes look beautiful too! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ali
      Posted January 4, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Beth! They were super delicious, hope you try them!

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