Friday, October 29, 2010

Macadamia Praline Cupcakes



I first tasted macadamia nuts when a visiting cousin brought some back from Australia. The only plant native to the continent down under, macadamias have a subtle flavor unmatched by any other nut. When a friend got me another pack a few weeks back, the only way I could thank him was to bake something with macadamias.

I didn't want a cookie, I didn't want a whole cake (what will he do with so much cake!) so it was clear we were going the cupcake route. But then, I didn't want to just add ground or chopped macadamias to the batter. I wanted a cake where macadamias were the star.

And every time I thought of a cake, I visualized a vanilla cake topped with macadamia praline. I searched everywhere but couldn't find the exact cake I was looking for so I just created something of my own.

First off, I made praline. If you are scared of caramel, you are going to go away now. DON'T! It's simple and not as scary as it sounds. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread 15 or so macadamia nuts on it. In a small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil on a slow heat, then turn up the gas and let the sugar boil undisturbed for 5 minutes. Watch it like a hawk, resisting all temptations to go out, answer the phone, do anything else at all! Once the sugar turns to an amber color, quickly pour on the nuts. Let it cool and harden, then grind to a crunchy powder in your food processor.

Next up, I made the cake I had a huge success with a few days back - Dorie's Simple Loaf Cake. I poured the batter into 6 parchment lined ramekins and set them to bake in an oven preheated to 180C. Ten minutes into the baking time, once the top had set a bit, I took out the cakes and sprinkled the praline all over. Back in the oven, they baked for another 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center came out with no crumbs.

The cupcakes tasted as pretty as they looked. So delicious in fact, that I almost dropped the idea of giving them away and was about to keep them all for myself. I did keep one for me in the end, and am I glad I did! While the loaf cake was delicious enough in itself, the praline topping added a depth of flavor the original lacked. Totally my best cake ever.

6 comments:

Sweet Slumber said...

Hey Simran,

I got to know about this blog through Mrs. Jaya Wagle. I have been following her blog regularly and when I got to know about an online book club I was more than eager to join it. Can you please pass your email id so I can write to you and be a part of 'This Book makes me cook' please?

Rachel said...

The cupcakes look ever so delciious.. I love macadamia nuts..and in the form of praline, can't be better.

Srimathi said...

The cupcake looks super moist Simran. I love macadamia nuts. Its so rich and creamy and fat, and usually I have them in cookies or kheer.

notyet100 said...

too good,..
wish u happy diwali...

Apu said...

Cupcakes look wonderful and macadamias are my favourite.

honeybeecooksjackfruit said...

Going into my "must try" list. Looks unbelievably good!