I have always been intrigued by sugar work, and recently I decided to make some cupcakes with caramelized walnut spiral toppers.
I make chocolate cupcakes on a fairly regular basis. I have been experimenting with a few recipes and I have finally come up with a fairly simple recipe that does not require milk. Milk is not a staple ingredient in my household so I find it irksome to have to go out and buy a carton and end up pouring the remainder down the sink 2 weeks later because nobody drinks it.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun making these – not too time consuming but quite striking in appearance. Recipe has been divided into 3 parts – the cupcake, chocolate buttercream and the walnut caramel spirals.
Caramel Spiral Cupcakes
(makes 12-16 cupcakes or 1 6 inch cake)
125g dark chocolate, chopped
140g brown sugar
100g butter, room temperature
140g brown sugar
180g self raising flour
10g cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced).
- Combine all ingredients from List A in a microwave safe bowl and cook in 30 second intervals until ingredients are melted, stirring in between each interval. Mixture may look like it has split slightly but that is okay. Set aside.
- Working off the ingredients from List B, cream butter and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl down between each addition.
- Pour warm mixture prepared from List A into the bowl and mix. Add self-raising flour and cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Mixture will be fairly runny.
- Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when pierced through the middle of the cupcake. Leave to cool completely before decorating.
150g butter, softened
150g icing sugar
50g dark chocolate, melted (my favourite method for melting chocolate outlined here)
- Cream butter and sugar together in mixer until light and fluffy.
- Pour melted chocolate in and mix until well incorporated.
Caramelized Walnut Spirals
Ingredients and Equipment
Toothpicks or skewers
Cylindrical rod (I used my sharpening steel but you can use anything from whisk or spoon handles – whatever you can find in your kitchen)
Cooking oil spray
- Attach walnuts to toothpicks.
- Spray some cooking oil onto cylindrical rod to facilitate easy removal of spirals.
- Pour sugar and water into a small pot and heat, swirling the pot around gently every so often. Once it turns a lovely caramel colour, turn off the heat.
- Leave to cool for a while, checking intermittently by dipping the a walnut into the mixture and lifting it out. Caramel is ready to be spun when a thick thread of caramel drips off the walnut rather than small drops. This may take some experimenting.
- Lift walnut out and wrap the caramel strand around the cylindrical rod in a spiral around the rod. Slip rod off and place walnut on a silicone mat to cool.
- Repeat with other walnuts. If caramel hardens too much during the process, reheat gently until it softens again.
Notes: Caramel is extremely hot so always be careful. This method takes a little practice but once proficient it can be very rewarding. Also, these decorations are extremely sensitive to humidity – they are best prepared 2-3 hours before serving.