Most of you know by now that St-Germain is my favorite liqueur. A while back, I made a St-Germain icing, and since then I vowed that I would incorporate St-Germain into more desserts. I also decided that I want to use more pears in my baking. I found a recipe for pear and elderflower macarons and thought it would be fun to use the components to make some mini cupcakes.
I started with a white cake base, baked up mini cupcakes, filled them with St-Germain poached pears, and topped them with St-Germain buttercream. (And I had a lot of help from Elizabeth who came over to spend the day baking with me.) To make the cupcakes extra delicate, I chose pink cupcake liners, and we decorated them with pink sugar and pearls.
After they were all finished, I couldn't help thinking that they would be perfect for a bridal shower... or perhaps any holiday in February when one might be serving pink desserts.
Mini Pear And St-Germain Cupcakes
I made 48 mini cupcakes and baked the remaining batter into cake layers, but you could do all mini cupcakes.
Cake (adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 yolk
1 1/2 cups ice water
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Poached Pears (adapted from Spicy Ice Cream)
2 pears, peeled, cored, and finely diced
1 cup water
4 tablespoons St-Germain
1 tablespoon brown sugar
St-Germain Buttercream (adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons reserved pear poaching liquid
1 to 3 teaspoons St-Germain
White decorating pearls
For the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line mini muffin pans with paper liners.
Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Scrape down bowl, add egg and yolk, and beat until combined.
Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture, alternating with ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down bowl, then mix on low for a few seconds. Transfer to large bowl. Clean mixer bowl.
In clean mixer bowl with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into batter.
Using a small scoop, add one scoop of batter to each cupcake cup. Bake cupcakes one pan at a time, 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.
For the poached pears: While cupcakes are baking, combine pears, water, St-Germain, and brown sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium-low to low heat until pears are tender and liquid is syrupy. (This took about 40 minutes for me.) Strain and reserve liquid. Let liquid and pears cool.
For the St-Germain buttercream: In a small saucepan (that your stand mixer bowl can fit in without touching the water), simmer about 1 inch of water. In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together the granulated sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl over the simmering water, and heat, whisking occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until mixture is hot to the touch and sugar seems dissolved.
Place the bowl on the stand mixer, and using whip attachment, whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until mixture becomes a light, white meringue and bowl is cool to the touch.
Reduce speed to medium, and add the butter a few chunks at a time. Beat for 3 to 4 minutes or until the butter is fully incorporated.
Add the confectioners' sugar, salt, milk, and reserved poaching liquid, and continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and satiny.
With the mixer running on medium speed, trickle in St-Germain to taste, and continue beating until frosting is smooth.
To assemble cupcakes: Scoop a small circle of cake out of the center of each mini cupcake.
Fill each hole with a small scoop of poached pears.
Pipe frosting on top of cupcakes.
Decorate with pink sugar and pearls.
These cupcakes are best the day they are made, but they can be stored in the fridge, wrapped tightly for 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.