Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Hazelnut Praline Cupcakes

This cupcake was inspired by a cake my mum used to make when I was little. It has a moist, fluffy sponge and an incredibly addictive Swiss meringue buttercream frosting laced through with crunchy hazelnut praline. Every single person who has eaten one of these babies has emitted something between a sigh and a moan upon biting into one. Yes, they are THAT good.

Hazelnut Praline
200g hazelnuts
200g caster sugar
squeeze of lemon

For the cupcakes
300g plain flour
150g golden caster sugar
150g light muscovado sugar
100g hazelnut praline, processed to a fine powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
4 medium eggs
200ml buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla paste (I used Pinner Vanilla)
2 tsp Camp coffee extract

Praline Swiss meringue buttercream
5 large egg whites
200g golden caster sugar
200g butter, room temperature cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp vanilla paste
1/2 tbsp Camp coffee extract or very strong espresso coffee, cooled
5-10 tbsp of powdered hazelnut praline (to taste)

Preheat oven to 150 C. Put the hazelnuts in a baking tray and roast for about 5 minutes. Lightly grease a baking tray with almond or other flavourless oil. To make the praline, put the sugar and squeeze of lemon in a heavy pot. Stir on medium heat for about 5 minutes until it melts and turns a light golden colour. Add the hazelnuts and stir until they are completely covered. When the caramel turns a deep amber colour pour the praline into the prepared baking tray. Let it cool completely, then break into pieces. Process half of the praline to a fine powder in a food processor - this will be used in the sponge and frosting. Larger pieces can be used to decorate the cupcakes (or sprinkled over ice cream – yum!).

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 180 C. Put your cupcake cases into a muffin tin. Put all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with a fork, make sure there are no lumps. Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed using the paddle attachment until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the eggs and mix on medium to combine. Add the buttermilk, vanilla, coffee extract and mix on high for 2-3 minutes. The batter should be quite thick. Pour into the cases - only fill halfway up. Bake for 20 minutes and cool completely. 

To make the buttercream, put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Boil some water in a pot, reduce heat to a simmer, then add the mixing bowl on top making sure the bottom does not touch the water. Lightly whisk the egg whites for about 7 minutes - make sure the sugar dissolves completely. Attach the mixing bowl to the mixer and whisk on high speed for about 10 minutes till you have a thick meringue. When the bowl has cooled completely start adding the butter one small cube at a time while whisking on medium. Once all the butter is incorporated whisk on high for a few minutes and add the flavourings and a few tablespoons of powdered hazelnut praline (to taste). 

Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream and add some crushed praline to decorate. These stay fresh for a couple of days at room temperature. If you can't face making the Swiss Meringue then these can be frosted with American buttercream instead.

Please note:
 this will make about 30 large cupcakes or even more smaller ones. You can also be divide batter into cake tins to make a spectacular layered cake - you will get 3x20cm/8in or 2x23cm/9in layers. You can halve the recipe to make about 16-18 cupcakes (then you need to halve the buttercream and praline recipes as well).


  1. These look amazing.. I've never really ventured away from 'normal' buttercream, and when I do it's always to a ganache. I really need to try these, and master meringue buttercream as well..

  2. Thank you so much for your entry into my link party! I hope you enjoyed it! I'm looking to grow the party and the best way to do that is for all the participants to display a badge on their blog, inviting their readers and other food bloggers to contribute. Please consider displaying a badge! You can find them here: http://www.anyonita-nibbles.com/page22.html. Also, remember this is going to be a weekly event, so be sure to come back next Tuesday with another fantastic recipe! Next week, you can also see if your post was the most popular submission of the party!

  3. Hiya - the badge is on the website - at the bottom if you take a look. Can you see it?

  4. These are sooo tasty. Really, you can't beat them. I have baked this into a 3 layer cake and it was amazing. What I love particularly is that the sponge is so light and fluffy and stays moist and fresh for days (not that they last long).

  5. Wow, these look very impressive - I love your shiny gold cupcake wrappers! I've never tried making swiss meringue buttercream but it looks like it would be very hard to resist.

  6. Just made this for my dad for his birthday dinner cake - I made a 3 layer cake decorated with raspberries and chocolate ganache! Wish I could post a photo for you to see! Cannot wait to cut into it!!

  7. oooh! Would love to see it! Can you post a pic on twitter @supergolden88 or email me supergolden88{at}gmail.com