I didn't want a cookie, I didn't want a whole cake (what will he do with so much cake!) so it was clear we were going the cupcake route. But then, I didn't want to just add ground or chopped macadamias to the batter. I wanted a cake where macadamias were the star.
And every time I thought of a cake, I visualized a vanilla cake topped with macadamia praline. I searched everywhere but couldn't find the exact cake I was looking for so I just created something of my own.
First off, I made praline. If you are scared of caramel, you are going to go away now. DON'T! It's simple and not as scary as it sounds. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread 15 or so macadamia nuts on it. In a small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil on a slow heat, then turn up the gas and let the sugar boil undisturbed for 5 minutes. Watch it like a hawk, resisting all temptations to go out, answer the phone, do anything else at all! Once the sugar turns to an amber color, quickly pour on the nuts. Let it cool and harden, then grind to a crunchy powder in your food processor.
Next up, I made the cake I had a huge success with a few days back - Dorie's Simple Loaf Cake. I poured the batter into 6 parchment lined ramekins and set them to bake in an oven preheated to 180C. Ten minutes into the baking time, once the top had set a bit, I took out the cakes and sprinkled the praline all over. Back in the oven, they baked for another 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center came out with no crumbs.
The cupcakes tasted as pretty as they looked. So delicious in fact, that I almost dropped the idea of giving them away and was about to keep them all for myself. I did keep one for me in the end, and am I glad I did! While the loaf cake was delicious enough in itself, the praline topping added a depth of flavor the original lacked. Totally my best cake ever.