Will and I have a deal. It goes like this. If I take him to work, he will take my latest batch of baked goodies in to share with his workmates. It might seem like a win win to Will but it works both ways.
I get to bake something for no other reason than because I want to and I can make something extra naughty and tempting because it won’t be staying in the house for long at all.
Cupcakes have been a bit of an obsession of mine lately ever since I discovered a recipe for fool-proof cupcakes that without fail, produces light, fluffy cupcakes that rise to perfection every time. I’ve been experimenting with the recipe ever since and am yet to find a variation that ruins the chemistry.
My latest version – maple pecan cupcakes. A few Christmases ago I made maple-coated walnuts. These little babies were amazing. Dangerously amazing. In 10 minutes I could whip up a huge batch and in about another 20 minutes I could eat them all. I lost count of how many batches I made that Christmas.
I thought that I’d shared the recipe but it must have been pre-blog. They will get their own dedicated post some time soon but for now I’ll introduce you to their cousin – maple pecan.
He’s a taller-leaner member of the family with an equally as nutty personality but a bit more straight down the line. He also scrubs up a bit better for formal occasions like topping cupcakes.
Make the cupcakes by throwing everything in the food processor and whizzing it up into a smooth batter. Divide it between 12 cupcake cases and bake at 180C fan-forced for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, to dress the pecans for the occasion, pop them in a small saucepan with the maple syrup and put the pan over medium heat (they perform well under pressure). Heat, stirring until the maple syrup is all dried up and the nuts are coated.
Make sure you use pure 100% maple syrup or it won’t crystallize – pecans have expensive taste!
Turn them out onto a sheet of baking paper, separate them and leave them to dry.
I discovered a nifty little trick to keep the icing bag clean (read, so I don’t have to wash it). Put the icing into a plastic bag, slide it into a piping bag, fitted with a nozzle so that a corner of the bag comes out the tip. Snip it off and you’re good to go.
I tried to swirl the maple syrup through the icing but it ended up just blending in so don’t bother with that step.
Make sure you let the cakes cool before you ice them. Also make sure you don’t eat them before you ice them. They’re slightly irresistible at this stage.
I used a star tip for my icing but only because it’s my favourite. Feel free to pick your favourite.
White icing on a simple white cupcake is just so appealing isn’t it? So boring in one way but so elegant!
Boring until you add the topping that is. Top each cupcake with a pretty pecan and watch them transform before your eyes. Enjoy!
What about you? Do you like pecans or walnuts? Do you prefer simple cupcakes or do you like over-the-top?
- ⅓ cup freshly squeeze mandarin (or orange) juice
- 2 eggs
- 125g unsalted butter, chopped
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- 225g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- MAPLE PECANS
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (real maple syrup)
- 12 whole pecans
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C fan-forced and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.
- Place the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, juice, flour, vanilla and maple syrup in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Scrape down the sides and process again.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake case and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Meanwhile prepare the maple pecans.
- Place the maple syrup and nuts in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, over low heat until the pan is dry and the nuts are glossy.
- Turn them out onto a sheet of baking paper, separate them and leave them to cool and dry.
- Transfer the cooked cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.
- Make the icing by beating the butter with an electric mixer then adding the icing sugar. Add the maple syrup and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Add milk if the icing is too thick.
- Use a star tip to pipe the icing on top of the cooled cupcakes.
- Top each one with a maple pecan.