Pear drop cupcakes and candied pear
I got some pear essence from The Asian Cookshop, and it smells amazing, if incredibly chemically and artificial. But that was always one of the brilliant things about pear drops, which I guess are just a bunch of whatever ester makes that nice smell and some sugar. Because cupcakes are the thing at the moment (and they cause less anger when I spend ages photographing them before we’re allowed to eat) pear drop flavoured cupcakes seemed like a pretty good thing to make. And hell they were, everything best about pears, cupcakes and sweets were in those things.
- 120 g plain flour
- 140 g caster sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 40 g butter
- 120 ml milk
- 1 medium egg
- 0.5 teaspoons pear essence
- Candied pear slices
- Cream together the room temperature butter and dry ingredients.
- Gradually add the other ingredients and mix well.
- Two thirds fill cupcake cases and bake at 175C for 20 minutes.
- Leave to cool and make a cream cheese frosting.
- Ice the cupcakes and then grind the pear drops to a fine powder and sprinkle over the top. Top with a slice of candied pear.
I thought slices of candied pear would make a good topping, but finding reliable instructions for candying is surprisingly difficult. I took a little guidance form David Lebovitz and various other random Google searches. The overall idea seems to be simmering fruit in a syrup, and the bigger the pieces the longer it will take. Also gradually increasing the sugar concentration seems to be pretty common. So as long as you simmer the fruit long enough, in a high enough concentration of sugar I don’t think you can really go wrong. My rough procedure is below and it seemed to work out.
Candied (glace) pears
- Peel and slice pears
- Simmer in water for 10 minutes until tender
- Mix 250 g sugar and 250 ml water, dissolve, then add pears and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes
- Leave overnight, bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes
- Repeat until the syrup reaches the soft ball stage
- Drain, let dry on a rack for 24 hours, then coat in sugar
I also added a chunk of ginger for flavour and also didn’t bother with overnight, a few hours seemed like enough. I think it took a total of four 20 minute simmers for the syrup to reach the correct concentration.