22 February 2014

{Celebrating} Mini Walnut Cakes with Beurre Noisette & Espresso Buttercream

These past few days have been quite stressful ones. It's hard for me to see the big picture sometimes, and focus on the present, not the future or the past. When I feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that I am so very lucky to be surrounded with amazing people that understand me so well, and love me too. I am so blessed in that regard, and it makes dealing with certain situations that more bearable.

One of these wonderful people is my lovely sister-in-law. And it was her birthday last week, though she was in the US of A and will be for another month or so.

I baked those mini cakes just before she left, for an early celebration. But also to express how much she means to me. She really does mean a helluva lot to me. My sista from another mista.

I love to bake to tell people how I feel. Is this strange?

I put effort into making something that I think they will love. And I knew she would love this nutty, milky coffee flavoured mini cakes. Plus they are a beaut to look at as well! Even if icing them was such a challenge, dayum I had to dig deep to keep calm and carry on as the Brits say.

Mini Walnut Cakes with Beurre Noisette & Espresso Buttercream

I made 2x3-layers mini cakes and 6x2 layers mini cakes
inspired by Nigella + Dolly and Oatmeal mini cakes

For the mini cakes:
90g walnut pieces
220g caster sugar
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs, room temperature
1-2 tbps milk
4 tsp instant espresso (can use normal instant coffee, the taste will just be more milky coffeeish)
1 tbsp hot water

Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F.

In a food processor, with the "S" blade, pulse the walnut pieces until you get a flour consistency (a few nut pieces left is a-ok by me!).

Change the blade to the dough attachment in your food processor. Add the butter and sugar and cream together for 2 minutes, scraping the side of the bowl half-way through to make sure the mix is smooth and all incorporated.

Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well in between each addition.

Dilute the coffee in the hot water and add to the mix.

Then add the flour and baking powder and mix, scraping the sides as well, making sure everything is incorporated to the mix.

Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk, to make sure the batter is smooth and loose, not too stiff.

Transfer the batter to a well greased (butter it well!) rectangular traybake (I used a 9 x 12 inch dish) and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edges and flip the cake on a cooling rack. I then like to refrigerate the cake (wait till it is completely cooled) overnight and will cut and ice it the next day.

For the buttercream:
200g butter
300g icing sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
2-3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp hot water

Put the butter in a a pan, and heat gently until the butter turns pale brown and smells of hazelnuts. I like to filter the butter to get rid of the brown bits, but you don't have to, it's just a preference. Then refrigerated the butter to firm up, and bring back to room temperature once you are ready to start making your buttercream.

Cream the butter until fluffy. Dilute the instant espresso in the hot water and add to the butter. Add the icing sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you get the consistency you like, it needs to be spreadable, so not too stiff.

Use a 2 inch round cutter and cut the cold cake in as many pieces as you can (so you can get as many mini cakes as possible!). Put aside and look at them (check 'em out!). Try and think how you will construct your mini cakes. I had to level most of them as they were lop-sided, poor lads. Then I sliced some of them in half, horizontally. I decided on building 2x3 layers mini cakes, and 6x2 layers mini cakes. But this step is completely up to you.

Dollop a little bit of icing on the base of the mini cakes and spread around. Top with another layer of cake, and repeat with some more icing. Then do the sides as neatly as you can. I have absolutely no icing technique whatsoever, or vocabulary as you can see.

Then voila! Mini cakes done.

Happy Birthday special lady!


  1. So, so PRETTY. I love. Shared, pinned and tweeted :)

    1. Thanks Marni! They are adorable aren't they? Tasted pretty good too! :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Vlad! We had the most wonderful morning light when I shot this, which rarely happens in London! :)