Friday, January 11, 2013

Mocha Hazelnut Cupcakes

Chocolate, coffee and hazelnut are some of my favorite ingredients in baking. Combine all of them in one recipe, and you end up with the most amazing chocolate decadence. I decided to try this combination into cupcakes. Although I am not a cupcake person, I do make them whenever I'm short on time and patience.

Mocha Hazelnut Cupcakes

These little cakes were deliciously decadent. The addition of ground hazelnuts and the hazelnut spread (Nutella in this recipe) made them super rich and chocolaty. Biting into these little cakes felt like biting into a chocolate bar full of hazlenut flavor. I made the cupcakes using my favorite chocolate cake recipe with the addition of other flavors and ingredients. 
The rich and soft mocha buttercream was really the icing on the cake. Although it is the hardest part of the recipe, it was all worth the effort and the steps. I tried a Pierre Herme's buttercream recipe for the first time ( I just added the flavors I wanted) and it is a delicious one: light and fluffy which is not the case with most buttercreams. I kept having spoonfuls of it...... yes it is that good, especially with the addition of coffee.

Nutella Muffins

You can use your favorite buttercream recipe if this one is too much work for you. I made mine the night before, kept in the fridge and took it out for couple hours. If your buttercream is still stiff, put it in s bowl over a double boiler for 10 seconds then whisk. Repeat this process until the cream is fluffy again. If you are not a buttercream lover, you can ice the cupcakes with ganache to which you add some of the hazelnut spread or use the spread itself as the icing.

Mocha Hazelnut cupcakes (makes 24 )

200g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
140 g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
4 tablespoons Nutella
4 large eggs, room temperature
150g granualted sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g self rising flour
100g ground hazelnuts (peeled, toasted and ground)

1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners and set aside
2- Melt the chocolate, butter and instant coffee over a double boiler. Add the nutella and set aside to cool.
3- In a bowl of a mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and whisk until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold it in gently.
4. Gradually, add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture. Use a spatula to fold the chocolate mixture. Do not over mix.
5- Divide the batter between the liners which should not be filled  more than 2/3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before icing.

Coffee Hazelnut Buttercream (Courtesy Pierre Herme)

This recipes yields a lot of buttercream. A third of the recipe will be enough to frost 24 cupcakes. The buttercream could be made a day before. Any extra can be frozen for few weeks. 

Creme anglaise
90g whole milk
70g egg yolks
90g granulated sugar

Italian Meringue
4 egg whites
250g granulated sugar
75g water

450g soft unsalted butter ( I used only 400g)
4 Tablespoons strong coffee
4 Tablespoons Nutella

Make the creme anglaise: In a sauce pan, combine the egg yolks and sugar. whisk to combine. Bring the milk to a boil and gradually add it to the egg mixture. Heat the mixture over low heat until slightly thick. The cream should have the consistency of heavy cream and should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Set a side to cool slighlty.

Make the italian meringue: In a sauce pan, combine the sugar and water and cook to soft ball stage (239 degrees F). If you do not have a thermometer, bring the sugar to a boil and cook for 6 minutes. while the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites in a bowl of a mixer and whisk until soft peak. Gradually  add the hot sugar to the whipped whites while whisking. Continue to whisk until the meringue is cool and shiny.

Assemble the cream: Place the creme anglaise in a bowl of a mixer and mix until it becomes light and fluffy. Whisk the soft butter and add it to the whipped creme anglaise. whisk until light and fluffy. Add the meringue and whisk until combined. Add the coffee and the nutella.

Ice the cupcakes with the buttercream and sprinkle with crushed hazlenuts for more hazelnut goodness! 013