Toffee Apple Tower Cupcakes

Monday, May 16, 2011

I realised this afternoon that it is Sunday, the end of the week, and NO baked goods had graced my kitchen counters. None. Okay, there were some baked wholemeal bread rolls, but those hardly count, do they? Well, it was only right that I bake the most amazing, mouth-watering and epic cupcakes to make up for it.

That's how these beautiful Toffee Apple Tower cupcakes came about. Inspired by a Woman's Weekly Recipe Book I bought when first arriving in London, I combined a few recipes, adapted some ideas, and came up with these little celebration cakes (partially in celebration of the House Guest's birthday, and partially in celebration of baking). I made 8 apple, maple and pecan cupcakes which smell incredible and give a solid foundation for the towers.

Recipe for Apple, Maple and Pecan Cake
(this will give you double the quantity)

60g butter, softened
1 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple-flavoured syrup
2 eggs
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup coarsely grated apple

1. Preheat oven to 180'C fan-forced. Line cupcake tin with paper cases.
2. Beat butter, flour, cinnamon, sugar, syrup and eggs with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are combined. Then, increase the speed to medium until the mixture turns a paler colour.
3. Stir in the nuts and the apple, divide the batter amongst the cases, and smooth the batter.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes and turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Then I made about 60 small profiteroles (unfilled) by piping choux pastry into 1cm balls on baking trays.

Recipe for Choux Pastry
(this will give you a double quantity)
60g butter
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup plain flour
3 eggs, beaten lightly

1. Preheat oven to 200'C fan-forced. Grease oven trays and line with baking paper.
2. Combine the butter and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball.
3. Transfer the mixture into a small bowl and beat with an electric beater, adding the eggs slowly in batches until the mixture becomes glossy.
4. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe small balls onto the baking tray using a 1cm straight piping nozzle. The balls should be about 2cm apart.
5. Bake for 7 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180'C and bake for a further 5 minutes until the pastry crisps and browns.

The balls literally roll off the baking tray so be careful when taking them out of the oven!

Then, I made Maple Buttercream (60g butter, 1 cup icing sugar, 2 teaspoons of maple syrup, mixed until light and creamy), iced the cupcakes and "glued" on the profiteroles.

Almost ready! The very last finishing touch was drizzled toffee over the top to make them look a little like miniature croquembouche towers and less like balloon bunches.

Yum. They're absolutely delicious! You could up the ante and fill each choux ball with maple Buttercream or toffee cream, or just leave them empty and crisp like I did. The caramelised toffee is very easy (and messy) to make but could very well be rivalled by melted chocolate for an espresso-chocolate variant or even something more 'vanilla bean' instead. The perfect celebration cupcakes for every palate.

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