I called them Fruit 'n' Nut simply because they have a peanut praline on top and they contain both chocolate chunks and dried fruit inside - all of which are the ingredients in a 'Fruit & Nut' bar (a particular favourite of 'Fletcher' in the TV programme, Porridge).
|Three cupcakes, finished off with a set of GBBO cupcake wrappers.|
Fruit 'n' Nut Cupcakes!
Makes: 12 | Prep time: 40 minutes | Cooking time: 25 minutes
For the cupcakes:
- 100g margarine
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 free-range eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 100g self-raising flour, sifted
- 75g chocolate chunks
- 75g mixed fruit, dried
- 1-2 tbsp. milk
For the vanilla buttercream:
- 150g unsalted butter, softened
- 280g icing sugar, golden/unrefined
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-2 tbsp. milk
For the praline topping:
- 200g unrefined sugar
- 4 tbsp. water
- 150g honey-roasted peanuts
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases (paper or otherwise).
- In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and caster sugar until pale and smooth.
- Lightly beat the eggs and then gradually add to the margarine and sugar. Mix with an electric mixer for a few minutes to incorporate some air. At this point, the mixture may look as though it has curdled. Don't worry, just give the mixture a good beating until thoroughly combined.
- Add the chocolate chunks and dried fruit and mix together.
- Now, fold in the sifted flour using a metal spoon. It is important, at this stage, not to overwork the batter as that will work the gluten in the flour and result in dense cakes. You want the mixture to be at dropping consistency, in that it easily drops from a spoon when held above the bowl. If your mixture is too thick, add a little of the milk until it reaches the specified consistency.
- Spoon the mixture into the cases so that the mixture fills them to about half way. Too full and the mixture will spill over the edge of the cases as it rises.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden on top. To check whether they are done, insert a skewer or cocktail stick into the centre of a cake. If it comes out clean, they are done. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
- Whilst you are waiting for the cakes to cool, you can make the buttercream icing.
- In a bowl, beat the butter until soft then add about half of the icing sugar and beat until combined.
- Add the remaining icing sugar and mix in thoroughly. Next, add the vanilla extract and mix through.
- You are looking for a stiff icing that will hold it's shape well. If the mixture is too stiff, loosen it by adding a splash of milk. Repeat until a smooth but firm icing is produced.
- Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a large swirl or star tip (such as the Wilton 1M or 2D) and pipe into swirls onto the fully-cooled cakes. Alternatively, you can spoon on the icing with a palette knife. Allow to stand for a while so as to give the buttercream time to firm up on the outside.
- Now it's time to make the praline topping. Line a baking tray with greaseproof baking parchment.
- Now, pour the sugar and water into a saucepan and heat over a moderate heat. I use setting '3' on my '6' setting electric hob. Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved
- Now, turn up the heat to high and and cook for 5-10 minutes until the sugar turns thick and golden. Swirl the sugar syrup in the pan occasionally but do not stir as that will cause the sugar to crystallise. You are looking for the sugar to be at the 'hard crack' stage. On a sugar thermometer this will be around 145-150°C. To test without a thermometer, drop a small amount of the syrup into some ice-cold water. Leave for a few moments and then check to see if it is brittle. If so, you've reached 'hard crack' stage
- Remove the sugar from the heat and swirl to stop the bubbling. Quickly tip the peanuts into the sugar, stir with a metal spoon and then pour onto the prepared baking tray. Spread out the peanuts so that they form one single layer and then leave to cool in a safe place. Caution: Sugar will be very hot and will cause burns if it comes into contact with your skin.
- Once the praline has cooled and set, break into medium-to-large pieces and place into a large freezer bag. Bash the praline with a rolling pin until it resembles a fine crumb with some slightly larger pieces remaining.
- Sprinkle some of the praline onto each of the iced cupcakes to give them that finished look.
Top Tip #1:
When making the buttercream, cover your mixing bowl with a damp tea towel. This will stop the oh-so-annoying cloud of icing sugar that gets onto everything.
Top Tip #2:
Try to avoid using non-stick pans when making praline as the sugar is more likely to crystallise in a non-stick pan than in a regular one.
Voilà! Fruit 'n' Nut cupcakes... I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do in our home.
This recipe was entered into the 'Calendar Cakes' challenge for September, hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes