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)
For the cashew cream:
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
- Blanch the cashews for 2-3 minutes in boiling water. Drain and plunge back into cold water. Drain again.
- Pulse the nuts in a food processor or with a hand-blender until they begin to form a paste.
- Add the butter and continue to pulse until incorporated.
- 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.
- In a clean bowl, whip the double cream until stiff.
- Add the cashew mixture to the cream and fold in until combined.
- Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 170C /340F /gas mark 4. Lightly grease the cupcake cases and place them in a cupcake tray.
- 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.
- Measure out the milk into a separate bowl or jug. Add the egg and and beat until combined.
- Pour the milk mixture onto the dry ingredients and stir lightly until there are no streaks of flour showing.
- Roughly grate the dark chocolate into the batter and stir until spread through.
- 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:
- Place the cashews in a dry frying pan over a low heat and add the sugar.
- Cook without stirring until the sugar has just melted, then stir quickly to coat the nuts.
- Tip onto a piece of kitchen foil, taking care to spread them out so that they harden individually.
- 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?)
- Place the cream in a piping bag, and pipe cream into the centre of each cupcake, swirling on top when filled.
- Balance a caramelized cashew on top, and for extra-slut points, finish with a grating of dark chocolate.