For the cakes
- 3 tbsp instant coffee
- 3 tbsp freshly boiled hot water
- 3 tbsp whole milk
- 150g butter, softened
- 150g light muscovado sugar
- 3 eggs (at room temperature)
- 150g self-raising flour
- 150g walnuts, toasted and chopped (see p82)
For the coffee syrup
- ½ tbsp instant coffee
- 50ml boiling water
- 50g caster sugar
- ½ tbsp coffee liqueur, such as Tia Maria, optional
For the topping
- 250g mascarpone
- few drops of vanilla extract
- 50g icing sugar
- dash of milk or cream, if needed
- cocoa powder
- 12-hole muffin tin
- 12 espresso-sized (115ml/4oz) paper cups – ideally kraft ripple (see directory, p308)
- cocktail stick
- medium paintbrush
- coffee-bean stencil (see below) or other stencil, optional
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Line the muffin tin with the cups.
Mix the coffee with the hot water, then stir in the milk. Set aside to cool. Using a hand-held electric whisk, or in a free-standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar together for 5-10 minutes or until very light and creamy. The mixture will turn from a rich toffee brown to a pale café-au-lait shade. Break the eggs into a mug or jug and beat with a fork. Gradually add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Should the mixture look like it’s curdling, add a spoonful of the flour. Sift in the flour and fold in until just combined. Finally, stir through the coffee and chopped walnuts.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cups and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cakes have risen and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean.
While the cakes are baking, make the syrup. Put the coffee in a small pan, add the boiling water and stir to dissolve the granules. Stir in the sugar. Set the pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for a few minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved and you are left with a runny syrup. Remove from the heat and stir in the liqueur, if using.
Once the cakes are baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes. During this time, prick them all over with a cocktail stick and brush over the coffee syrup using a paintbrush or pastry brush, allowing the syrup to soak into the sponge. Use about ½ tablespoon syrup per cup. Remove the cakes from the tin, still in their cups, and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Put the mascarpone and vanilla in a bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Beat together until creamy and well combined, adding a dash of milk or cream to slacken the mix slightly, if necessary. Spoon some on to each cake and spread level with a palette knife. Sift the cocoa on top, either all over or through a coffee-bean stencil to create some barista art.
Extract taken from Quinntessential Baking by Frances Quinn
Photography © Georgia Glynn Smith