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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Chocolate-Pear Cupcakes

What do you know - it's the time of the month again - the Velveteers' Challenge (Aparna, Alessio, Asha & I). This month we decided to go nutty fruity to lift up our spirit to welcome summer after a long spell of rain and gloomy weather in Europe. At the beginning, I had in mind to make something with cheese, nuts & fruits but I got seduced by Aparna & Shellyfish chatting about their moist, oh so heavenly tasting cupcakes. So curious was I to know if their cupcakes are that good that I started dreaming of it. Soon, my imagination took a different angle - imagining all sort of ways to improvise over the Velveteers' project. Et voilà ! An adapted recipe was born.

I made these cupcakes earlier but didn't have time to post it as I was in the rush to put the house in order, before I left with Little One for a long weekend trip to visit friends and attend a little boy's (Noah) birthday party in Nantes. This time, I was able to meet Jamie of Life's a feast for lunch, had our dessert at her place, met her shy Man & handsome (very French) son, Clément, and of course her adorable but very shy Marty (ooh, I so love Marty). After dessert, we went for a "walk" (I mean shopping spree). I had in mind to shop for a few things for Little One's birthday party but in the end, I bought some tops and a dress for her instead. Jamie got herself a great bargain - a Curnonsky's cookbook for 10 €!! I'm so dying of jealousy! Little One & I had a wonderful time in Nantes and wish that we could stay longer than just over a long weekend. I would also like to thank my wonderful mother-in-law Michèle & sister-in-law Irène for driving us to Nantes and back to Clermont-Ferrand and for taking care of Little One the whole Saturday so that I could spent the day alone with my girlfriends.

Chocolate-Pear Velvet Cupcakes

(Adapted from Aparna's Cinnamon Cupcakes)

Makes: 8 - 10 cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups cake flour (sifted and then measured)
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 - 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 100 gm butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup demerara (or light brown) sugar, packed
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups milk (room temperature)
  • 1 pear (peeled & cut into 4 or 8 parts)
  • walnuts (roughly broken up)

Caramel Sauce

  • sugar
  • water
  • about 2 tbsp salted butter
  • about 2 tbsp cream or crème fraîche
Directions
  1. Sift together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with milk. Starting and ending with flour. Beat just enough to combine the ingredients and do not overmix. After all the ingredients are in, beat it for just one minute.
  5. Divide the batter equally between 8 to 10 paper lined cupcake tins (depending on the size of your tins) so that each one is 2/3rds full.
  6. Lightly insert a slice of pear in the middle of the cupcake.
  7. Bake the cupcakes at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 20 to 25 minutes till done or a skewer inserted in them comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then turn out and cool completely.
  8. Spoon some caramel sauce on top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle some walnuts on top of the caramel sauce. Then drip some caramel sauce all over the walnuts.
Chocolate Pear CupcakesChocolate Pear Cupcakes

Making the caramel sauce

  1. While your cupcakes cool, you can start preparing your caramel sauce.
  2. Put some sugar and enough water to wet the sugar in a small pot and heat it up on medium heat.
  3. Sugar will dissolves and when it turned into bubbling brown and golden, turn off the heat.
  4. Quickly stir in the salted butter until combined.
  5. Put the pot back on stove under very low heat and stir in the cream.
  6. Continue stirring until you get a thick consistency like crème patissière.
  7. Voilà, your caramel sauce is ready for your cupcakes.
Chocolate Pear Cupcakes
The Verdict

The cupcake is very soft & moist like a sponge cake with a light touch of chocolate flavour. The pear compliments the chocolate cake very well. Everyone loves the cupcakes and the caramel sauce with walnuts topping. I'll make it more chocolaty next time.

Chocolate Pear CupcakesChocolate Pear Cupcakes

The 4 Velveteers

The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) are hosting a monthly event that explores food & cuisine and share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise - we never know what we'll make next. So if you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.

Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with:

9 comments on this post.

Walnut-Chocolate Cake

One of the nicest things about living in France (as opposed to my equatorial Singapore) is not just the 4 seasons but the food that come -and go- with them: fruits, mushrooms of course but also cheese or seafood. As we enter Autumn (or are supposed to, as temperature went from a nice 22°C to 11°C in 48h), we have apples, pears and walnuts and chestnuts falling from trees everywhere in the countryside. One simply can't resist stopping the car to pick them up on the road. Not to pick them up seems like such a waste of food from mother nature.

Two weekends ago, we (parents-in-law, Little One and I) went walnut pickings at the nearby fields of my in-laws mountain house.:-) We were pleasantly greeted by a herd of cows and calves. At first they were minding their own business, but after a while they got curious at our presence on their territory, looking at us wondering what were we doing bending and picking stuff on the ground. I for one got excited and pointed the cows to Little One, prompting her to wave and holler a 'mooo' greetings to the cows and calves.

As we moved further into the fields, the cows decided to follow us up close - pretty cute. I was kinda scared as these cows have long spiky horns but my parents-in-law assured me that they are nice and harmless animals. I watched in fear as one cow moved right next to my mom-in-law who just waved her finger 'No, no' telling it not to come so close to her. Amazingly then the cow moved a few steps back from my mom-in-law! I was truly floored. As we moved on, the cows followed us nonchalantly behind us, every pair of eyes were on us, on our movements... gave me the goose bumps like they were seizing the chance to pounce on us unsuspectingly. Knowing that cows are way more likely to be eaten by humans than the opposite wasn't quite enough to make me comfortable about being around such big horned animals.

Luckily for me, Little One was a good distraction... picking walnuts became sort of a treasure hunt for her, her exclamation of sheer delight at spotting one was very amusing, some went into the pails, a few were kept in her pocket as prized treasure to show to her papa later. Suddenly Little One spotted a cow hovering over our pail of nuts, went close to it, shaking her little finger: 'No, no ... it's not for you. Go away.' However the cow couldn't care less and continued eying at those delicious nuts, Little One started to growl like a little courageous lion cub to frighten it away to no avail. LOL! It was quite a funny scene of David & Goliath.;-) Harmless as the cows may be, they do have those pair of menacing looking horns and could easily flick Little One with it. Father-in-law took caution, shooed the cow away and told Little One not to get too close to them. With both pails filled to the rim with a little mount of pyramid, we had to sadly leave the rest of the nuts on the ground and said 'Goodbye, till we meet again' to our companions. What wonderful and fruitful afternoon we had! Wish I had thought of bringing my camera along. Oh well, perhaps I'll have another opportunity.

Walnut-Chocolate Cake
Ingredients
  • 85 g sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 7 egg whites
  • 85 g butter (melted)
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 150 g walnuts (chopped, not too finely)
  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • 20 g liquid cream
Walnut cake with chocolate icing
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 170°C ( 325°F - gas mark 3).
  2. Mix egg yolks and sugar, then add in melted butter. Whisk until combined.
  3. Add in plain flour, stir until combined.
  4. Add in chopped walnuts
  5. Beat egg white until very stiff peaks.
  6. Delicately incorporate the stiff egg white into the batter.
  7. Pour the batter into a well greased round baking tin.
  8. Bake it for about 40 minutes or until the tooth pick comes out clean and let it cool completely.
  9. With a baking brush, coat the cake with chocolate ganache.
  10. Let it chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  11. You can serve it with crème anglaise.

Making Chocolate ganache

  1. Bring cream to a boil and then stir in dark chocolate until combined.
  2. Let it cool to obtain a ganache.
Walnut cake with chocolate icingWalnut cake with chocolate icing
The Verdict

This cake is very light, moist and the nutty flavour is heighten by the chocolate ganache. We ate this with crème anglais - it was good but we felt that it sort of bland out the flavour of this nutty cake instead of heightening it, so maybe you can forget about this addition. This cake is not very sweet so if you do leave out the crème anglais, please increase the amount of sugar added to the cake.

Walnut cake with chocolate icingWalnut cake with chocolate icing
12 comments on this post.