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Friday 5 July 2013

Let Her Eat Cake: Dark Chocolate & Cashew Cupcakes

I don't know what it is about chocolate and nuts that goes together so well, but I've yet to find a duo that's incompatible. Almond? Goes with everything. Hazelnuts? Milk chocolate's best friend. Pistachios? Come here, white chocolate.

I'd never used cashews in baking before, but there's a first time for everything right? They have quite a mild flavour, which makes for a lovely, light cream and honestly, caramelized cashew nuts just look pretty.

These cupcakes are the grown-up, sophisticated sibling of our pistachio and white chocolate cakes. Together, they'd make a great double-act at a dinner party. Try to use a high-percentage dark chocolate if you can for full-on sultry attitude.

Dark Chocolate & Cashew Cupcakes (Makes 8-10)
You'll need:
For the cashew cream:
  • 100g cashews
  • 10g butter
  • 80g icing sugar
  • 200ml double cream
For the cake:
  • 40g butter, softened (but not melted)
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 25g dark chocolate
For the caramelized cashews:
  • Handful of cashews
  • 2 heaped tbsp golden caster sugar
Make it!
The cream:
  1. Blanch the cashews for 2-3 minutes in boiling water. Drain and plunge back into cold water. Drain again. 
  2. Pulse the nuts in a food processor or with a hand-blender until they begin to form a paste. 
  3. Add the butter and continue to pulse until incorporated. 
  4. Add the icing sugar a little at a time, according to taste, pulsing well in between. The nuts should have formed a thick paste by this point. Don't worry if there are still small pieces of nut in the mix.
  5. In a clean bowl, whip the double cream until stiff. 
  6. Add the cashew mixture to the cream and fold in until combined.
  7. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.  
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C /340F /gas mark 4. Lightly grease the cupcake cases and place them in a cupcake tray.
  2. Put the softened butter in a bowl along with the flour, cocoa power and caster sugar. Rub together until the mixture is combined into a sandy texture.
  3. Measure out the milk into a separate bowl or jug. Add the egg and and beat until combined. 
  4. Pour the milk mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir lightly until there are no streaks of flour showing. 
  5. Roughly grate the dark chocolate into the batter and stir until spread through.
  6. Fill the cupcake cases 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes until risen. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before icing. 
The caramelized cashews:
  1. Place the cashews in a dry frying pan over a low heat and add the sugar. 
  2. Cook without stirring until the sugar has just melted, then stir quickly to coat the nuts. 
  3. Tip onto a piece of kitchen foil, taking care to spread them out so that they harden individually. 
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut a small inverted cone from the top of each cupcake. (Eat the pieces that are left: you have to test don't you?)
  5. Place the cream in a piping bag, and pipe cream into the centre of each cupcake, swirling on top when filled. 
  6. Balance a caramelized cashew on top, and for extra-slut points, finish with a grating of dark chocolate.

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