Thursday, December 3, 2009

Like the Deserts Miss the Rain: Prickly Pear Cupcakes!!

The gray cloud coverage during the winter months in Michigan has sadly started. No snow on the ground, but it's certainly cold! This is now my 7th winter living in a cold place, but as I have mentioned before, I hail from a desert, and I think that I will never get used to dressing in layers and seeing the sun less than 363 days a year.

You can therefore imagine my excitement when I saw these prickly pear fruits (also known as cactus fruit) in my local grocery store! If you live in an area where these are native, you could even just go out and collect them.... with some thick gloves, of course!

I remember the days of my desert biology class in elementary school and going on field trips and eating prickly pear candy. After the nostalgia wore off, I knew that I had to purchase some and turn them into my adult love: cupcakes!

For my recipe you only need two prickly pear fruits. It takes a little bit of work, and the flavor is sort of difficult to describe. But hey, who doesn't like trying something new and exotic?

The cupcakes involve first making a prickly pear syrup and then using that in the batter and in the frosting.

Prickly Pear Syrup - makes approximately 1 cup
  • 2 prickly pears
  • 1 cup of sugar
  1. Carefully peel the outter skin of the prickly pear fruit.
  2. Cut the prickly pear fruit into medium pieces and place in a blender.
  3. Pulse the sliced fruit until liquid.
  4. Using a strainer, separate the liquid from the large, black seeds. THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT! I didn't do this and prickly pear seeds are not chewable, even when cooked. No one likes a stone surprise when they chew cupcakes. You should end up with about one cup of juice.
  5. Pour the prickly pear juice into a saucepan and add the sugar. Turn the heat on to low-medium and stir continuously until all of the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool. This will last in your refrigerator for a least a week in an airtight container.
Ok. Now you have your prickly pear syrup. Now on to the goodies...

Prickly Pear Cupcakes - makes approximately 15 cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup prickly pear syrup
  • 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners
  2. In a large bowl, add the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix together with a wire whisk.
  3. Add the oil, water, prickly pear syrup, egg yolks, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed iwth an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. For the meringue, in a separate small bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff.
  5. Fold the meringue into the batter until lightly mixed. Your batter will be relatively thing, but a beautiful pink color:
  6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full with batter.
  7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then move to a cooling rack to completely cool.
Unfortunately, your cupcakes will not stay that brilliant pink color after being baked. They will look more like this:

I tried to capture the steam coming out of a nice and warm one. If you look closely I think that you can see it:

Don't worry, though. You'll get that natural pink color back!

Pink Prickly Pear Frosting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup prickly pear syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3-6 cups confectioner's sugar
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Make sure that it's nice and smooth!
  2. Add one cup of confectioner's sugar. Beat until completely added to the butter.
  3. Add the syrup and milk. Beat until well combined.
  4. Continue to add the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency and sweetness. If it gets too dry or stiff, add a little bit more milk.

Getting ready to decorate! I used a 2D tip.

Let me know what your think about prickly pear! I think that it is sort of like a mix between a fruity flavor and a mild bubblegum, but maybe I'm just moved by the pink!


  1. Ooooh these look so tasty and SO pretty! I wonder if there are any prickly pears at Shaw's ...

  2. I love these! I'm adding it to the list to try. The steam picture looks good.

  3. I totally pinned this recipe to my food board on pinterest to try! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! It was a nice change of pace from "Prickly Pear Jelly" and "Prickly Pear Margaritas"! :D Cannot wait to try this!



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