Bosc pears are….well…hard to transport in a backpack. Especially when they are perfectly ripe. Don’t. Unless you don’t mind the skins of the particularly ripe ones coming off and causing some of the flesh and juices to seep out into your backpack! I speak from experience. Still, once I got home, I ate one. I know I have a lot of favorite fruits and flavors, but this is one of my favorite fruits. Next time, I will buy them with nothing else, so I can properly handle them as I walk home and not use my backpack.
This is a recipe that can easily be adapted to 12 cupcakes. I used one of those brownie pans. You know, the pans that sort of look like cupcake pans, only the molds are squares, so that each brownie has four edges? This worked very well for making very uniform sizes for each serving.
The brown butter can be skipped, but I really, really dig it. It really goes well with the hazelnuts, pears, and the cinnamon. I promise. And people think it’s a pain to make, but it really isn’t that difficult to make. Just have some patience, because the flavor is worth it.
The demerara sugar can be skipped, too, although I feel it adds a slightly crunchy element to the cake that helps offset all the softness, particularly if you are going to serve this with caramel and vanilla ice cream, like I did. Turbindo sugar works well too.
Brown Butter Pear Hazelnut Cakelets
2 Bosc Pears (other pears would work, too, just make sure they are sufficiently ripe without being over ripe).
lemon juice from 1/4 of a lemon
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 heaping teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons hazelnut flour, or toasted hazelnuts, skinned and ground finely
4 ounces butter, made into brown butter, cooled into solid again
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup demerara sugar, sprinkled on right before baking
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Peel the pears and dice into small cubes. Squeeze lemon juice over the pear cubes in a bowl and turn a few times to coat pear cubes with the lemon juice. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, hazelnut flour, and cinnamon. If you do not have hazelnut flour, you can use almond meal or almond flour. If you do not have either of these nut flours, you can also make your own nut flour by using a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender to grind nuts finely. If you do this, you can toast the nuts slightly in the oven to bring out their crunchiness and flavor.
Prepare the brown butter. Take a 4 ounce stick of butter and heat it in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir occasionally to ensure evenness in cooking. When milk solids start turning brown, immediately take off the heat and scrape bottom with butter to get all the butter and browned particles. Place container in an ice bath without letting water seep into bowl of butter. Stir often while in ice bath to help solidify butter quickly. Or just put bowl with melted butter in the fridge until it’s solid.
Cream solidified brown butter with granulated sugar until fluffy and soft. Add eggs one at a time, and blend until incorporated. Do the same with adding vanilla and mixing well. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture, blending a little in at a time, then add the pears and lemon juice, folding it in until sufficiently mixed and incorporated into the batter. Divide evenly among molds. Sprinkle demerara evenly among the tops of each cakelet. You should have about 12 portions, roughly 1/4 cup. These are quite small portions, so you can also make bigger cupcakes with the batter, but you will not have 12 cupcakes, unless you don’t mind them being a little smaller. Bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven for roughly 20 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean. After cooling slightly on a rack for 5-10 minutes, invert. Serve inverted, if you wish, which is what I did. They just looked better to me that way.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and or a homemade caramel sauce. Enjoy!!