These cupcakes are little works of art with a sophisticated flavor profile. The vanilla cupcake is ultra moist and the perfect platform for tart and sweet pear compote which sits in a circle of vanilla butter cream. To really add texture and elegance I’ve placed candied pecans on top and a drizzle of a reduction of the poached pear compote. Make these for a special occasion and your guests will definitely be impressed.
For the cake
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cups regular flour
1 cups sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the compote & drizzle
2 bosc pears, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice
3 tbs pear brandy (optional)
For the frosting
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
1 tsp vanilla
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean (vanilla beans are so expensive if you get them in the glass vile, but if you can find them in the bulk spice section of your store they are very cheap; about 60 cents for 1)
For the candied pecans (optional garnish)
1 egg white
1/2 heaping cup pecans
1/4th cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
Yields 12 cupcakes
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a kitchen-aid. Add the butter, mixing on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is about pea-sized.
3. In a bowl whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla. On medium speed, add wet ingredients slowly. Scrape the sides of the bowl, beat again just until combined.
4. Divide batter evenly, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through until a toothpick just comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes. Do not over bake or let the tops get golden. They will be pale. Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the frosting:
1. Whip the butter and salt for 20 seconds (using hand held beaters or Kitchen-Aid with whisk attachment), then add powdered sugar in 3 intervals. Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and whip.
2. Pipe the frosting in a circle around the edge of the cupcake.
For the compote & reduction:
1. Add all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until pear is tender, about 10 minutes. Strain the pears from the liquid and set aside.
2. Simmer the remaining liquid for 30 minutes on low or until it has thickened. This will be used as a drizzle later and is an optional step.
3. Once the pear compote has cooled, spoon about a tablespoon into each frosting-circle.
For the candied pecans:
1. Whip the egg white until it is stiff. Add the brown sugar and spices, mix just until combined. Toss in the pecans.
2. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Keep an eye on them; they are done when egg whites are dry and the pecans are crisp.
3. Let cool, reserve 12 whole pieces, chop the rest. Sprinkle the cupcakes with chopped pecans, top with a whole pecan. Drizzle with reduction. Serve same day.