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I chanced upon a photo of these Sparkling Champagne Cupcakes which I made during the festive period last year, and boy did they make me hungry just writing about them! My go-to vanilla cupcake was given an new spin with a good glass of bubbly. Since I was feeling particularly indulgent, they were drizzled with more champagne and filled with an almond-praliné filling. If that wasn’t enough, I decided to dress them up by dipping the tops into a shiny dark chocolate-champagne glaze and some sprinkles. The crunchy and nutty praliné provided textural contrast to the moist and delicate cake. Every bite had just enough of that rich luscious glaze to meld all the flavours together. Although these do require quite a bit of effort to make, the results are definitely worth it! They even make a really pretty centrepiece for a birthday party, complete with sparklers on top and sprinkles of fancy sugar pearls or nonpareils. The next time (for that extra bit of decadence), I’m looking at a champagne swiss meringue buttercream frosting with swirls of fresh strawberry puree, to make this a truly over-the-top celebratory dessert.

Cupcakes drenched in bubbly and filled with almond praliné filling

Sparkling Champagne Cupcakes
110g unsalted french butter
150g unrefined cane sugar
2 organic large eggs
1 t pure vanilla
220g organic unbleached flour, or cake flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t sea salt
80ml sour cream
1 cup champagne, prosecco or any sparkling wine on hand

Almond-Praliné Filling
this one is honestly, rather time consuming to make from scratch. But the results are so, so worth it! This makes more than you’ll need for the cupcakes; I love them sprinkled over ice-cream, or eaten as it is. 
for the Praliné,
Equal weights of almonds and sugar (I used 100g each)

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely melted and caramelised. Pour the caramelised mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper or silicone mat and spread it out flat using a rubber spatula. Allow to cool completely until hardened. Break into small pieces, place in a food processor and crush into a fine powder, then process until a smooth paste forms. *I usually store the praline (broken into shards, not ground up) in a ziplock away from heat.

Measure out 100g of the praliné paste.
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped (i used 70% cocoa)
10g unsalted butter
few tablespoon of heavy cream or milk

Melt the chocolate over a baine marie. Remove from heat and add in the butter. Fold in the praliné paste and add just enough heavy cream to achieve the right consistency. You’ll want a fairly thick and luscious filing that is can be easily scooped into the cupcakes cavity.

Champagne-Chocolate Glaze
always a kitchen staple, this dark and shiny glaze is so versatile it can be used for almost anything and flavoured in just about a million different ways.
90g dark chocolate
200ml cream (i used 38% french heavy cream)
50ml Champagne, prosecco or any sparkling wine

Follow the directions for my usual ganache recipe. Stir in the champagne at the very end. As it cools, the glaze will thicken slightly.

To assemble:
Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack. Cut out a cone from the middle of each cupcake. Slice of the tips of the cut-outs. Drizzle a teaspoon of champagne over the cupcakes. Scoop a spoonful of the almond praliné filling into the cavity and replace with the cut-outs. Press down firmly to adhere.
Dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze or spread it over with a offset spatula. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles. Now, grab one and devour!

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