Succulent Spiced Pear Streusel Cupcakes and the Unvarnished Truth

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I always try to keep it real here at SGCC.  Sometimes, that means sharing my flops as well as my successes – and believe me, there are quite a few flops!

Remember this?


How about this?


Yessiree, things don’t always flow smoothly in my kitchen!  But, that’s okay. We learn from our mistakes. And if that’s true, dear readers, I must be the smartest person on earth!

So when things didn’t turn out quite as planned while making these cupcakes, I decided to tell you about them anyway.  Because they were still delicious.  Because s*%t happens.  And, because the truth will set you free.   Here’s how it went down. 


A few months ago, I “liked” Dolce Nonna’s fan page on FacebookDolce Nonna produces a line of artisanal food products, including marinated peppers, string beans and eggplant.  The products are all natural and made by hand.  They reminded me of the “giardiniera” that my grandmother used to make.  She would take a mix of fresh vegetables, simmer them in vinegar, sugar, water and spices until crisp-tender, and jar them.  Her giardiniera was wonderful on an antipasto tray or as a complement to any meal.

Before I ever got around to ordering any of Dolce Nonna’s products, I got an email from her letting me know that I been selected to receive a gift of her newest product – Succulent Spiced Pears.  Woo hoo!  Since I never win anything, I usually don’t bother to even try for giveaways. This time, I didn’t have to do a thing – and I won!


About a week later, the FedEx guy arrived at my door bearing three jars of Dolce Nonna’s Succulent Spiced Pears.  After I gave him a big kiss (not really, but I wanted to), I opened up a jar and fished out a few slices to try.  I liked them.  I really, really liked them!  They were sweet and spicy and just the tiniest bit “herby”.  Peering into the jar, I saw chunks of fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks and anise seeds.  Nice!

I served the rest of the jar alongside some grilled pork chops that night.  A perfect combination!  I saved one jar for snacking.  And, I made these Succulent Spiced Pear Streusel Cupcakes with the third.  I thought about giving one jar away, but they were too good to share.


To make the cupcakes, I mixed and matched a few different recipes and then added my own touches.  For the cake and streusel filling, I used a coffee cake recipe from the King Arthur Flour web site.   For the crumb topping, I used an old recipe from the New York Times.  And, for the spiced pear filling, I used my imagination.  None if these steps was very difficult. Except the using my imagination part.  That one kind of hurt my head a little.

The first thing you need to do is make all of the different cupcake components.

Here’s the crumb topping.  I could eat it with a spoon.


I chopped up the pears and added some raisins to them, just because I felt like it.  I’m crazy like that.


Here’s how you build your cupcakes.

Fill each cupcake cup about one quarter full with cake batter.


Sprinkle on some streusel and fruit filling.


Then, pour some more cake batter over each one and put a generous handful of crumb topping on top.


And finally, bake them.

Uh oh!


Well, this certainly wasn’t what I had in mind!

Not even my prettiest cake stand and ten Hail Marys could save these.


This one was the best of the bunch. It only had one big, gaping hole in it.


So, where did I go wrong?  First of all, I was being lazy and I didn’t want to take the trouble to butter and flour my cupcake pan.  I also couldn’t be bothered to walk the ten steps to my baking cabinet and fish out some cupcake liners. Luckily, I was able to reach my nonstick cooking spray without stretching my arm too far, so I sprayed the pan with that. It was one of those fancy, expensive, gold nonstick cupcake pans from Williams-Sonoma, so I figured it would be okay. Big, big, big mistake! Those cupcakes stuck to that pan like it was lined with Super Glue!  I had to pry them out of the cups in chunks!  I also forgot to mix a little flour in with the fruit, and it sank to the bottom of the cupcakes like spicy little lead balloons.  On top of all that, I overfilled my cupcake cups and the batter bubbled up and oozed all over to rival Mt. Vesuvius.


Oh, how I wish that these had turned out better!  Because if they looked pretty, you would most certainly be inspired to try them – and I so much want for you to try them.

So, do as I say and not as I do.  Butter and flour your cupcake pans.  Or better yet, use cupcake liners.  Toss a little flour in with your pears and raisins.  And, don’t overfill the pan.   But, please, please, please, make. these. cupcakes! You will love, love, love them!


38 responses to Succulent Spiced Pear Streusel Cupcakes and the Unvarnished Truth

  1. On July 06, 2010 at 1:27am, Shaheen {The Purple Foodie} said...

    Sometimes you just need to ignore the looks and enjoy the deliciousness. And spicy pears sound fantastic. I feel like making a pear and ginger something now. Maybe something with pear, ginger and chocolate?

    • On July 06, 2010 at 11:48am, Susan said...

      Oooh! That sounds good! These would be lovely with some chocolate chunks thrown in.

  2. On July 06, 2010 at 2:19am, Rosa said...

    We all have our small disasters once in a while…. Those cupcakes look terribly scrumptious! Pear and ginger, what an awesome combo!



  3. On July 06, 2010 at 2:51am, LimeCake said...

    These honestly don’t look as bad as you describe! Besides, ‘scraps’ are always marvelous!

  4. On July 06, 2010 at 2:53am, Paula said...

    looks absolutely fantastic!

    have a nice day,

  5. On July 06, 2010 at 3:05am, laura said...

    HA! glad I’m not the only lazy one out there :) sometimes those 10 steps are just too far!

    • On July 06, 2010 at 11:49am, Susan said...

      Amen to that! Lol! 😉

  6. On July 06, 2010 at 3:31am, Romy said...

    As my husband says when I am crying over some kitchen disaster – you win some, you lose some! I’m sure they tasted fabulous anyway! :)

  7. On July 06, 2010 at 6:39am, Jessica @ How Sweet It Is said...

    I always have disasters in the kitchen! Always!

  8. On July 06, 2010 at 7:42am, Marisa said...

    Well the ingredient list & your lovely description make up for their looks – bookmarked!

  9. On July 06, 2010 at 8:19am, SMITH BITES said...

    oh what loveliness – I don’t care what they look like! and I sooooo love that you keep it real and share your disasters with the rest of us – ‘cuz I know I have my fair share of ’em! I’m heading over to Dolce Nonna’s right now – that Succulent Spiced-Pear looks too good to pass up!

    • On July 06, 2010 at 11:50am, Susan said...

      Aww! Thanks! :) Sometimes, the flops are more fun to read about.

  10. On July 06, 2010 at 10:02am, bellini valli said...

    I love this post Susan. It shows us what “not to do” which is a better lesson for us all.

  11. On July 06, 2010 at 10:30am, dani said...

    omg they look amazing!

  12. On July 06, 2010 at 11:36am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    You know what? They still look delicious. I’d totally make them and I’d probably take your advice about liners and buttering pans and such.

    It can be a little intimidating to post flops, but I find there are so many wonderful supportive people out there that posting a flop is actually one of the most encouraging things out there.

    • On July 06, 2010 at 11:52am, Susan said...

      You’re so sweet, Rachel! Thanks! 8)

  13. On July 06, 2010 at 12:32pm, ingrid said...

    Yeah! Sorry but it’s good to know it happens to awesome bakers such as yourself, too! :) Thanks for sharing!

  14. On July 06, 2010 at 1:54pm, Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes said...

    Susan, I think this dessert was meant to look just the way you made it – it’s rustic and beautiful – it totally works! xxSAS

  15. On July 06, 2010 at 2:04pm, Tracy Moulton said...

    Again, your writing is fantastic! Those cupcakes look just fine! It all ends up in our bellies anyway. I bet they’d be great with a little vanilla ice cream on the side! :) Keep up the great work! Love, Tracy

  16. On July 06, 2010 at 2:14pm, Cherine said...

    Those are mouthwatering!! Beautiful photos!

  17. On July 06, 2010 at 3:46pm, Anna said...

    So what happened with the marshmallows? Did I miss the expose post? 😉

  18. On July 06, 2010 at 5:08pm, grace said...

    looking at the list of components leaves no doubt in my mind that these’d be delicious, regardless of their beauty (or lack thereof). pears don’t get used enough in my kitchen!

  19. On July 06, 2010 at 5:17pm, Gina said...

    My husband is going to love these. He is a big fan of anything with pears in it and they look delicious !!

  20. On July 06, 2010 at 7:47pm, Memoria said...

    They still look fantastic to me!! With the holes in them, you can see the filling more. YUM!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  21. On July 07, 2010 at 2:40am, Johanna from Sweet Tooth Inspired said...

    These look delicious! Even the filling looks tasty!

  22. On July 07, 2010 at 11:53am, ciaochowlinda said...

    These look scrumptious even if they didn’t turn out the way you wanted. Those spiced pears sound absolutely fabulous.

  23. On July 07, 2010 at 1:04pm, lunaCafe said...

    LOL! What a great post Susan! Loved every delicious moment reading it. And these cupcakes look fabulous to me. Can’t wait to give them a whirl. Will also stumble of course. Best…Susan

  24. On July 08, 2010 at 12:02am, nina said...

    You know Susan, I could have a blog entirely devoted to kitchen disasters, don’t feel alone. I am sure these cupcakes were awesome!!

  25. On July 08, 2010 at 1:21pm, Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

    For me it is all about the taste, and these sound fantastic!

  26. On July 09, 2010 at 10:31am, Eliana said...

    Well, for me, I can forget about looks as long as it tastes great. And the flavors here sounds super delish :)

  27. On July 09, 2010 at 5:16pm, Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) said...

    I love the unvarnished truth. I’m totally making this!

  28. On July 16, 2010 at 1:09pm, Jack said...

    Please come to my house and make me some sweets! Be sure to review restaurants at !!

  29. On July 27, 2010 at 2:31pm, JoJo said...

    For real, thanks for keeping it real! This post not only helps me make the recipe better, it also gives validity to your site. Your willingness to show the “bad” (though this bad was oh, so not bad) along with the good, means I value your recipes and words all the more. Are you kidding?! Bring on the learning along with the good recipes! Bake on….

  30. On November 01, 2010 at 4:50pm, Feast on the Cheap said...

    Glad to see I’m not the only one that thinks these deformed cuppies look delicious…gaping holes and all.

  31. On March 12, 2013 at 12:09pm, theultimatefoodaddict said...

    it looks so filling and good! can’t wait to try ’em! :)

  32. On March 20, 2014 at 12:47pm, Plant Based Diet said...

    Your cupcakes look like they will satisfy any sweet tooth!

  33. On October 02, 2014 at 2:25am, domain said...

    Thank you for any other magnificent article.
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  34. On May 15, 2015 at 3:54am, pool installer said...

    Good post. I will be experiencing some of these issues as well..

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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