Pineapple upside down cupcakes with gran luchito buttercream

The other day I overheard a posh lady explaining to her crestfallen toddler why she wasn’t allowed a cupcake. Not because they’re sugary or calorific,  but because they’re “just so very unfashionable now darling” as she towered over her in her Ugg boots. Of course, I immediately bought four and bloody gorgeous they were too.

Gran luchito is one of the finest chilli tapenades I’ve been lucky enough to receive a free jar of and this recipe for cupcakes is well worth a shot. I love the way they’ve gone completely left field with their recipe suggestions and the combination of caramelised pineapples and smoky chilli-laced cream topping is pretty sensational.

I got slightly sidetracked and didn’t manage to make the chilli buttercream pate a bombe topping in their recipe. Instead I combined 300g icing sugar, 50g butter and 125g cream cheese with a generous spoonful of the smoky joy. These were fallen upon and instantaneously devoured by the mums at my local under one’s club. Thank god for fellow sleep deprived sugar-addicts who have more important things to worry about than the format of their cakey fix.

makes 16 cupcakes


155g plain flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs

150g sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

110g oil (vegetable or extra light olive oil)

110g buttermilk

for the caramelised pineapple

6 tbsp. butter, cubed

200g light brown sugar

15-16 pineapple slices

maraschino cherries to garnish

for the chilli buttercream

400g granulated sugar

150g water

700g butter, room temperature

6 egg yolks

Gran Luchito chilli tapenade to taste


  • preheat oven to 180C. Mix the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  • crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 15 seconds. Add the sugar and continue beating on a medium speed for about half a minute. Add the vanilla and the oil.
  • Reduce the speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour. Add half the buttermilk and the rest of the flour. Dribble in the remaining buttermilk and beat until just combined.
  • Scrap down the side of the bowl. The batter will be thin.
  • To make the caramel, melt the butter over a low heat in a small saucepan and stir in the brown sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Spoon the caramel equally into 16 cupcake cases, top with a pineapple slice and a cherry.
  • Pour in the batter until 2/3 full and bake in a pre heated oven for 12-14 minutes.
  • Cool for 3-5 mins and then remove cupcakes from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • To make the chilli buttercream, mix the sugar and water to the consistency of wet sand in a small saucepan.
  • With a wet pastry brush, clean all the sugar crystals from the sides of the pan to prevent the syrup from crystalising, and cook to the soft ball stage without stirring.
  • Prepare a pate a bombe by whisking the egg yolks in the mixer. When the sugar reaches the soft ball stage, pour the hot syrup carefully into the bowl of eggs as they whisk. Continue to whisk until the mixing bowl is completely cold.
  • Change the whisk attachment from a whisk to a paddle and add the butter. Once this is fully incorporated add the chilli tapenade to taste. Pipe over the cooled cupcakes with a star tip nozzle and garnish with a maraschino cherry.


  1. Jeez, that woman sounds like an idiot! But in contrast that combination sounds amazing! I think I need to get me some of this chilli paste.

  2. Amy

    …no cupcakes because they aren’t fashionable? I despair.

    Also, I’ve never seen the idea of using an upside-down cake format in a cupcake. I may have to experiment!

    • gastrogeek

      so bizarre isn’t it?! It’s a very clever recipe, I’ve made it a few times since. Would love to hear how you get on

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