What better way to dream of Provence, with it’s lush lavender bushes, century old olive trees and beautiful blue skies than to eat a soft nougat cupcake topped with crunchy praline and melt-in-the-mouth nougat …
This weekend I was in Avignon, a beautiful historic town in Provence, where lavender bushes grow, hand crafted soaps are made locally, and where delicious specialities can be found, such as calissons d’Aix which are made from candied melon and orange, and colourful boiled sweets of all kinds and soft nougat made from honey and almonds…
As I was walking down the little cobbled stone streets of the historic center, humming the tune “Sur le pont d’Avignon” to no-one in particular, I thought I’d share this charming and unforgettable experience with you…
So, here below you’ll find my recipe for melt-in-the-mouth, nougat cupcakes with nougat and praline mascarpone icing, where every bight you take will transport you back to the XIIth century, dreaming of richly dressed Popes in red robes and the magnificent XIXth century, gilded statue of the Virgin, surmounted on the western tower of the cathedral notre Dame des Doms; then, as you crunch your way through an almond, and the sweet taste of honey heightens your senses with pleasure and delight, let your mind wander to a place where cicadas chirrup in the summertime and large purple lavender bushes sway gently to-and-fro in the breeze…
- 2 tablespoons of praline
- 3 teaspoons of powdered almonds
- 100g all purpose flour
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g butter (softened)
- 2 eggs
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of powdered vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
For the icing
- 250g mascarpone
- 50g icing sugar
- A few drops of blue food colouring
- A few drops of red food colouring
- 2 teaspoons of almond powder
- 3 teaspoons of praline (for the decoration on top)
- 50g soft nougat, sliced into small triangles (for the decoration on top)
- 1 teaspoon of natural vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease or line 12 cupcake moulds and reserve for later.
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, powdered almonds, pralines and vanilla extract. In a second mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, and add the eggs one at a time, all the while making sure that the ingredients are well combined. Then, slowly pour the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
Fill the cupcakes 3/4 full and bake between 10 and 12 minutes or until the tip of a knife comes out clean. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before icing.
In a large inox mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone, icing sugar, powdered almonds and vanilla extract. Reserve 3/4 of the icing and pour the remaining 1/4 into another, smaller bowl. Add the blue and red food colouring until you get a beautiful lavender colour.
Chose two nozzles, one larger than the other and put them into two separate piping bags. Pour the cream coloured icing into the piping bag that contains the larger nozzle, and the purple icing into the second piping bag. Pipe a beautiful flower shaped design with the cream colored icing onto each cupcake, then pipe a smaller flower with the purple icing.
Sprinkle some praline onto each iced cupcake and/ or a small slice of nougat. Enjoy these cupcakes with a cup of earl grey tea, or a lighter flavoured and more refreshing tea such as Gunpowder green tea. For those of you who wish to dream of Provence with every sip, chose a more flowery flavoured one such as Jasmin green tea, which is guaranteed to brighten your day and put a large smile on your face!