Spiced Chocolate and Pear Cupcakes (Or: Bake Off Episode 1)

Pear and Chocolate Cupcakes main

Hey! Hi! Hullo!

It is the last day of school holidays and I am finally typing up a post — the best laid holiday plans of teachers and bakers, my friends — but never fear because Katie and I (individually and collectively) have been busy in the kitchen making all sorts of stuff! Pretzels! Pickled Rhubarb! Quince Jelly! Carrot Cake! Many other types of cake!

The other major thing that has happened is that The Great Australian Bake Off has started airing and my face is on the television, what even?! You can see clips of the show on the website but I’ll link you to the most important part here i.e. the bit with Tiny Baby Arty being adorable.

I watched the show on Tuesday night with a bunch of my peeps and it was so lovely and I’ve only really heard positives so far. Hooray Bake Off! So that I don’t clog the New Fat Ladies twitter with all my #gabo shenanigans, you can find me at @ess_jay_bakes where I pretty much make hearteyes at the tv through the medium of twitter.

So, in the spirit of Hooray Bake Off!, here are the cupcakes that you got to see Dan and Kerry eat and compliment and me make silly faces about.

This recipe came about because I didn’t just want to do a ‘plain’ (i.e. delicious) chocolate cupcake and I love cardamon and cinnamon with chocolate and chocolate and pear is always delicious, so I thought I’d play around with the idea. The ganache was inspired by a similar (much fancier) version that Chef Sarah Grueneberg made in Season 9 of Top Chef (recipe is here.) The idea of a more caramel version of white chocolate totally got to me and I messed around with it as an accompaniment to this cupcake. Personally, I’m a less is more person on the icing stakes so, in future, I’d probably halve the amount of icing.

Kerry and Dan were worried about the amount of liquid in this recipe — particularly as I was also adding a watery fruit to it — but that issue never occurred to me until they were standing in front of me, asking me about it and there were a bunch of cameras. And, having made them again yesterday, I can see the concern when you are at the start of the recipe but I promise it all works out well.

Showing off the inside

Spiced Chocolate and Pear Cupcakes with Roasted White Chocolate Ganache

This makes 24-ish cupcakes depending on your case size etc. 

For the cakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee (a: it won’t taste like coffee, haters. b: it makes it look all brown and chocolatey. c: something to use instant coffee for?)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cups water (cool-ish)
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pear, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamon

Preheat oven to 170C. Line muffin tray.

Sift flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, hot water, cinnamon, cardamon and cocoa to smooth paste. Add cold water and whisk until evenly combined.

Cream butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until light and fluffy and sugar has mostly dissolved. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each one. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Add ¼ of the flour to the mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add a third of the cocoa/coffee paste and beat until combined. Repeat two more times. Add the remaining flour and beat until combined, then fold in pear. (NB: on the show, I was so petrified that the pear would all sink or catch the cupcake case or there wouldn’t be any pear in the cake that the judges tested that I counted out and then shoved the correct number of pieces into each cake. Frankly, at home, I cannot be bothered with that whole shenanigan. Chuck the pair in the mix and let it sort itself out.)

Spoon into cupcake papers, filling each to ½ – ¾ full. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes before baking.

Bake 18-20 minutes.

Remove from tray immediately and cool on wire rack to cool completely.

For the ganache:

  • 250g white chocolate
  • 180ml cream
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar

Warm cream in small saucepan.

Break white chocolate up on silicone baking sheet and roast in 150C oven for 10-15 minutes. WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK OMG. It will go from nicely roasted to NO NO NO BURNT very quickly.

See how the bits at the front are almost burnt? I was not paying enough attention.

 Put chocolate in medium mixing bowl and pour cream over. Using handheld mixers, beat in icing sugar. The amount of icing sugar really depends on what consistency of icing you want and how long you can leave it to set up. I know that is a bit wishy-washy but trust your instincts!

Cupcakes assemble!

Once the cakes are actually properly cool, spoon on the ganache and smooth to edges. On the show, I candied a piece of pear and put it on top and with this lot, I poached a piece pear. I think the poached it better but you do your thing!

See how pretty and well presented this one is? That's what the show ones were meant to look like. They were still delicious though.

I hope you enjoy these — I really do love the flavours. Next time, I might also add some ginger into the mix.

Did you watch Bake Off? What did you think? Congratulations to Maria for getting the inaugural Star Baker – that woman is super focussed and talented! Commiserations to Steve who is such a champion and was a pleasure to share the back half of the tent with.


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7 thoughts on “Spiced Chocolate and Pear Cupcakes (Or: Bake Off Episode 1)

  1. Erin Marie says:

    Is it weird that I tear up every time I watch your little intro thing with Essie, Artie and the Porkos?

    I thought Bake Off was great – I love Shane Jacobsen (in all his cornball greatness) and Dan Lepard seems like an absolute hunny. I’m looking forward to this week’s ep, and of course, your face!!

  2. Renae says:

    Yay recipe! I liked the first episode, especially when we were in your house and baby Arty was there, and you and Es looked all adorable. That was my favourite part 😉

  3. Jen says:

    OMG, I loved Bake Off! I was itching to get off the couch into the kitchen after the show. Hope there will be a recipe book because I really liked some of those cupcakes but the recipes aren’t on the website. Thanks for putting this one up! I think Maria and Nancy will be hard to beat though, so good luck

  4. Saj! It was very exciting to watch you! I loved that you were so happy/humble when things went well for you, so ready to admit it when they didn’t and take on criticism, and so happy for your fell contestants. I thought – that’s the Saj I know – a great person, and clearly good friends with the contestants already. Good luck this week! xxx

  5. Cindy says:

    You can roast white chocolate at home?! That’s brilliant. I was once served such a thing at a fancy-schmancy restaurant and I loved its nuttiness.

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