Saturday, 21 April 2012

Birthday Happiness

While I am still patiently awaiting my birthday of 2012, this week marked the birthday of a very special lady - my teaching partner, Mel!  In order to celebrate this exciting event (sadly, I always tend to get more excited about other people's birthday than my own!) a baking fest was in order.  Nothing less than wonderful would do.  Here is what I came up with:  Caramel Maple Mudcakes with Maple and Vanilla Bean Buttercream, topped with a Flaked Almond Praline.  Insanely phenomenal!

These cupcakes tasted absolutely amazing.  A true feast for the tastebuds, not to mention the eyes!  These are simply beautiful and the visual impact when presented is fabulous.  It is very important to bake these lovelies to share, otherwise, you might very well eat the whole lot by yourself (and justifiably so!).  This recipe bakes 12 so I doubled it.  The recipes for the buttercream and praline, however, make considerable amounts so no need to double - perhaps even half them!  You truly will not regret making these cupcakes.  They are special cupcakes, to be prepared for special people.
Caramel Maple Mudcake
60mL maple syrup
160mL milk
120g dark brown sugar
150g unsalted butter, chopped
75g white chocolate
150g P flour
50g S R flour
1 egg

After you've preheated your oven to 160 degrees, place the maple syrup, milk, sugar, butter and chocolate in a saucepan.  Melt over a low heat, stirring continuously.  Once completely melted and combined, pour into your mixing bowl and leave to cool for 15 minutes.  Sift in both flours and mix until just combined. Beat the egg lightly before whisking into batter until smooth.  Divide the mixture between your baking cups.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer (you want a few crumbs on the skewer).  Once out of oven, allow to cool completely.

Maple Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
2 tsp maple syrup

Whip butter and 3 cups of sifted icing sugar together until smooth and light.  Mix in vanilla bean paste and maple syrup to flavour.  If buttercream is too wet, add remaining icing sugar.

Flaked Almond Praline
1 cup caster sugar
4 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup flaked almonds

Line a large baking tray with baking paper.  Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir until sugar has dissolved.
Increase heat to high - no more stirring allowed!  You are permitted to lightly swirl the saucepan once, but that is all.  Boil until mixture turns a deep amber colour.  Remove from heat and leave to sit until bubbles have subsided.  Add almonds.
Pour mixture over baking tray.  You can use a spatula to spread it out to ensure that the praline is nice and thin.  Allow to cool then break praline into shards.

Put it all together and...Voila!

F. x

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