- 400g tin pears in natural juice
- 100ml (4fl oz) buttermilk
- 1tbsp sunflower oil
- 1tbsp vanilla extract
- 175g (6oz) cocoa powder, sifted
- 125g (4½oz) self-raising flour, sifted
- ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 340g (11½oz) golden caster sugar
- 6 free-range egg whites
- for the frostings:
- 500g tub full-fat Philadelphia cream cheese
- 2tsp vanilla bean paste
- 350g (12oz) golden icing sugar, sieved
- 50g (2oz) cocoa powder, sieved
- mini chocolate eggs or sugar flowers, to decorate
- you will need:
- 2 muffin trays (16 holes in total), lined with paper muffin cases
Heat the oven to 180 C, 160 C fan, 350 F, gas 4. Drain the pears and whizz in a processor to make a purée. Then measure out 85ml (3½fl oz) of the purée and pour into a jug. Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and a generous pinch of salt. Set aside.
Whisk together the golden caster sugar and egg whites with a hand-held electric mixer for 3 minutes, until thick and glossy. Add the pear purée mixture and whisk at a low speed, until well blended.
Fold the flour mixture into the egg white mixture and place a generous tablespoon into each paper muffin case. Bake for 18 minutes, until the cakes are firm on top. An easy way to tell if the cakes are cooked is to insert a cocktail stick into the centre of each one and, if it comes out clean, they’re ready. Next, set the cakes aside to cool in their trays.
For the frostings, put half the cream cheese into a processor, add half the vanilla bean paste and 200g (7oz) of the golden icing sugar, and whizz together to combine. Spoon into a disposable piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Add the rest of the cream cheese, vanilla bean paste and golden icing sugar to the processor, and then add the cocoa powder. Whizz together until just combined and soft.
Pipe large swirls of vanilla cream cheese frosting on top of 8 cupcakes. Spoon the chocolate frosting into a another piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe large swirls on top of the remaining cupcakes. Decorate each one with a mini chocolate egg or sugar flower.