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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Maple and Walnut Cupcakes

Well this past week and a bit has been a pretty quiet one for blogging...sorry guys! But after a holiday in Wales I'm ready and raring to go again (now equipped with my vintage & eclectic mix of Welsh charity shop finds- plates...plates and more plates for food styling!)

So I'm BACK with these cupcakes- maple and walnut...oh yeah!!

These cupcakes not only have walnuts hidden in the cake itself but they are also topped with crunchy, sticky and sweet caramelised walnuts. Mmmmm!

You may notice that in the ingredients list for the cake mixture you'll see that there isn't actually any maple syrup in them...that's because I discovered the wonders of maple flavoured golden syrup. (It works a treat in flapjacks!) So use that if your lucky enough to find it (but it's quite hard.) Otherwise use maple syrup as you'll still need plenty of that to go in the buttercream.

Overall I find these cupcakes quick and easy to make, but I suppose you could argue that the trickiest part is making the caramel to pour over the walnuts. So I'm gonna break this down for you, it sounds fancy and hard - but its really not!

All it is...melted brown sugar in a pan, just remember do not stir!! If you want you can shake the pan but that's it. Otherwise the sugar will crystallize and go all granular and bitty...you don't want that do you? Next thing: remember it's extremely hot!! So never touch with your fingers. Finally, as soon as the sugar is all melted and pale golden remove from the heat immediately or it will burn and taste bitter. Then pour all over the walnuts and it will set and go hard almost straight away.

Tip- Always have a kettle at the ready of boiling water to pour into your saucepan when the sticky but hard remains of caramel persist to remain intact. It always works for me!

So get baking...perfect timing for the new series of The Great British Bake Off tonight eh? I can't wait!

Maple and Walnut Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12 regular cupcakes)

For the cake:
150g margarine/butter
175g self raising flour
3 eggs
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup (maple flavoured)
40g chopped walnuts

For the caramelized walnuts:
60g brown sugar
12 walnut halves

For the buttercream:
150g butter, at room temperature 
85ml maple syrup
400g icing sugar, sifted 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4 / 350°F. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases. Put all the cake ingredients except the walnuts in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until light and creamy. Then fold in the chopped walnuts and divide the mixture into the 12 cupcake cases.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until just firm to the touch. Transfer to a a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized walnuts- gently heat the sugar in a heavy based saucepan  until the sugar has melted and is a pale golden colour. Spread the nuts onto a sheet of baking paper, in a tray preferably, and then pour the melted sugar over the nuts, covering them completely. Once cooled and hardened, break into 12 pieces ensuring a nut in each. 

Next make the buttercream. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, maple syrup and half the icing sugar until a smooth, creamy consistency. Gradually add the other half of the the icing sugar and mix again.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, ice them with a generous amount of buttercream and top with a caramelized nut.  





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