Marzipan & Pear Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
Servings: 24 standard cupcakes
Ingredients
For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup + 2 teaspoons 240 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 240 g 8 oz. marzipan, such as Odense Marzipan
  • 3/4 cup 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon 2.5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon 140 g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons 7 g baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 g
  • 1/4 cup 60 g ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup diced pear
For the Buttercream:
  • 1 cup 200 g sugar
  • 1/4 cup 60 ml water
  • 1/4 cup 60 ml heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1-1/2 cups 340 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites 120 g
  • 1 teaspoon 5 ml pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
For the Marzipan Pears:
  • 240 g 8 oz. marzipan
  • Gold luster dust
  • Gold non-toxic glitter aka disco dust, optional
  • Clove for stem optional
Instructions
For the Cupcakes:
  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. Add dry mixture and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Add ground almonds and diced pear (or puree) and mix by hand until incorporated.
  6. Divide batter evenly among cupcake liners, no more than 2/3 full, 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.
For the Buttercream:
  1. 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.
  2. Place 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (130 g) 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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°F on a candy thermometer.
  5. 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.
  6. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add cooled caramel and salt and beat until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
  7. Prepare to taste the most incredible buttercream you will ever encounter.
For the Marzipan Pears:
  1. Divide the marzipan or almond paste into 24 equal pieces or weigh each at 10 g for ease. Knead each piece 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 before serving.
Sweetapolita's Notes

*I used Ateco tip #887 in a large pastry bag to frost cupcakes.

**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.

***You could easily make quick, simple and lovely marzipan pears without any luster dust.

****Marzipan toppers can become soggy if left in airtight container atop cupcakes--try to place them on right before serving or ahead of time if they won't be in container.