There’s something so classic about the coffee and walnut cake, it feels very British mainly because I don’t think I’ve seen many other countries have their version of it. Perhaps surprisingly I cannot find an American recipe for a coffee and walnut cake considering what a nation of coffee lovers (or should I say Starbucks lovers) they seem to be.
And if you’re not convinced, coffee and walnut cakes are the best cake because Nigel Slater said it would be his last meal. There’s something about the bittersweet quality of the coffee and the crunch of the walnuts amongst the light fluffy sponge that just works so well.
Now coffee and walnut cake purists might disagree but I think you have to use soft light brown sugar for this cake. The slight molasses flavour compliments the coffee and creates a richer tasting cake. Some recipes will also call for the use of a coffee essence; the brand Camp Coffee springs to mind. This chicory-based essence gives a great coffee flavour but I think using instant coffee granules works just as well, if not better.
Another flavour combination that works with coffee is dark chocolate. Instead of a coffee buttercream, I think a chocolate ganache works better with this cupcake. It is best to make the chocolate ganache in advance as it will need around 3-4 hours chilling in the fridge.
The recipe is based on my Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe which you can find by clicking here.
150g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200ml double cream
210g soft light brown sugar
250g self raising flour
80g full-fat Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
80g chopped walnuts, plus extra chopped very finely for decoration
For the ganache, heat up the double cream in a saucepan until you cannot hold your finger in the cream for more than 1 second. Once heated, pour over the chocolate in a large bowl and leave for a couple of minutes. Then stir until the chocolate is all melted and the ganache is silky and shiny. Put into the fridge uncovered for 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.
Put all of the ingredients except for the walnuts into a large mixing bowl and beat for 1 minute using an electric whisk. Take a rubber spatula and scrape down the sides. Add the chopped walnuts and fold through.
Take your ice cream scoop and fill each cupcake case with 1.5 scoops of cake mixture, or until it is two-thirds full.
Bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes until am inserted skewer comes out clean. I always check at 13 minutes and turn the tin around for the remaining 5 minutes. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes in the tin before lifting out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When you are ready to assemble the cakes, put 12 teaspoons of the ganache into a piping bag. Place the rest of the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle.
Take a small knife and cut out a cavity in the centre of the cake. Fill with a teaspoon of the ganache and top with the cut out cake. Repeat for all the cakes. Then pipe a rosette of ganache on top of each cake, leaving about a 1.5cm circle free. I had some chocolate decorations leftover so I put 1 on each cake however just sprinkling with walnuts is also effective.