Long time no post! And for what reason? Ohhh how I’d like to be able to regale you with stories of all the marvelous things I’ve been doing, and delight you with tales of my groundbreaking and inspiring activities…but, alas, I would just be spinning outrageous lies. The truth is, suddenly being in a full time position of employment again has smacked me round the face like an angry drunk friend and I’ve spent the last few months recoiling from the sting.
That’s not to say I haven’t been baking – quite the contrary! And although I’ve been a bit sloppy and not taken pictures of everything, lucky for you I still have a mega-load (yes, that is the technical term for a large and almost untacklable quantity) of recipes and stories to delight you with 😉
But since my only excuse for being such a neglectful mother to my dearest blog these last few weeks is work, I thought I’d begin tackling the enormous backlog of recipes with the first set of cakes that I whipped up for my lovely colleagues.
A word of warning, apparently working full time has also rendered me incapable of taking half-decent pictures of things. Why do things always look better in person than in the inadequate photos I take of things? WHY? You’ll just have to believe me that these actually looked quite, dare I say it, professional!
These lovelies were made for a team-mates birthday. She’d previously mentioned her weakness for the hazlenut praline lattes sold at a certain high-street coffee shop, so I thought I’d take on the challenge and knock up a little surprise. They were really quite delicious, nutty, spicy, not too sweet, and although the buttercream isn’t belly-friendly, the cupcakes themselves are gluten and lactose-free and are just as delightful on their own as little coffee cakes 🙂 And i’m not just saying that!
- 200g hazelnuts
- 200g caster sugar
- squeeze of lemon
- 100g powdered hazelnut praline
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 150g light muscovado sugar
- 200g Stork, softened
- 300g self-raising GF flour (as ever, Dove’s is marvelous)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 medium eggs
- 230ml buttermilk (or, for a lactose free version, 200ml lacto-free milk (I find actual lactose-free milk varieties better in homeade buttermilk than dairy alternatives such as soya or almond milk) + 1 tbsp lemon juice)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp strong espresso coffee, cooled
- 240g unsalted butter, softened
- 280g icing sugar (golden if you can get your hands on some)
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp strong espresso coffee, cooled
- 5-10 tbsp of powdered hazelnut praline (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 150°C.
- Put the hazelnuts on a baking tray big enough for them to sit separately, and roast for 5-10 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the oven as soon as they reach this stage and tip into something cool to stop the cooking process.
- Lightly grease a baking tray with groundnut (or any flavourless) oil.
- Put the sugar and squeeze of lemon in a heavy pot – preferrably wide and shallow as the sugar will melt more evenly.
- Stir on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the sugar melts and turns a light golden colour.
- Add the hazelnuts and stir until they are completely covered. When the caramel turns a deep amber colour pour the praline into the prepared baking tray.
- Let cool completely, then break into pieces.
- Process half of the praline to a fine powder in a food processor, the other half leave as small pieces and use to decorate. Or to eat. I won’t judge 😉
- Turn the oven up to 180°C
- Combine dry ingredients
- Using an electric whisk cream the Stork and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy
- In alternate goes add the eggs and flour, mixing until combined after each addition
- Add the buttermilk, vanilla, coffee extract and mix on high for 2-3 minutes, add more milk if you think necessry but the batter should be fairly thick.
- Fill 24 cupcake cases to halfway up.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Leave to cool on a wire rack, taking the cupcakes out of the tins after around 10 minutes.
- Cream the butter until softened
- Carefully sieve in the icing sugar a little at a time, adding in the remaining wet ingredients near the end, along with a touch of milk if necessary
- Add in the powdered praline and mix until just combined
Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and add some artsy little pieces of praline to decorate
Unwrap, eat, repeat 🙂