This weekend was World Nutella Day (no, really) and since I have fond memories of Mister North and I sharing a jar of this hazelnut infused wonder on family holidays to Italy and then keeping the jar as a drinking glass, I thought I would have to do something to acknowledge the day. Since I had a group of friends coming round for tea and cake, cupcakes sounded just right!
There is a recipe for ‘chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes’ in The Hummingbird Cookbook, but since I really don’t like their recipes with their reliance on milk in the sponge, I decided to use this recipe which can be made gluten free as well.
Since I have no gluten issues, I didn’t have the makings for those cupcakes and decided to use the standard recipe instead, so I cannot comment on how the gluten free ones turn out. Both recipes look very easy and follow the standard method for making a cake. I followed it exactly apart from going freehand with the Nutella as I figure life was too short to measure out a 1/4 cup of it as it isn’t the most malleable consistency, and it’s unlikely anyone would complain about them being too chocolately or too hazelnutty!
The addition of the well beaten Nutella means you end up with a smooth almost mousse like batter that is surprisingly stiff to work with. I added a couple of blanched hazelnuts in the cases first for added crunch and then I put one well filled dessertspoon of this into each of my liners (which are Ikea’s fanatastic Drommar. They are slightly bigger than a bun case yet also perfect for muffins without spending a fortune on the oversized cases the latter usually requires…) These then went into the oven for around 25 minutes, coming out well risen with slightly
crunchy crackled tops.
I left them to cool and set about upping the chocolate hazelnut tastes to new heights by whipping up a Nutella infused cream cheese frosting. I wanted it rich in taste without being sickly sweet so I didn’t add any icing sugar to the cream cheese, simply whipping in about a tablespoon of Nutella to one pack of cream cheese and leaving it to come to room temperature to make it easier to pipe. Slightly less disastrous than my first go with a new piping bag, I didn’t have quite enough frosting to go round all 14 cupcakes so I just did the centres and garnished them with an extra hazelnut to be fancy.
This did mean they looked rather lovely, all rich with chocolate and infused with hazelnut. So imagine my disappointment when they were utterly overwhelmingly mediocre. Not all the fudgy deliciousness the batter suggested, but dry and cloying in the mouth. Even the creamy frosting couldn’t moisten these enough to make these pleasant in texture. They’d have been better with a big glass of milk, but even that wouldn’t have made them actually taste of much. The chocolate hazelnut was so subtle it was borderline boring and the whole thing was just bland and dry. While everyone else was too polite to say anything, it was telling that there were plenty left at the end of the afternoon.
I might try making these again but combining them with the Supermalt that made those cupcakes so soft and squishy and utterly lovely and doubling the Nutella again to at least the equivalent of a cupful to add some depth of flavour to them and upping the butter content which on second viewing, seems a bit stingy, but right now I think I’m done with chocolate hazelnut spread til this time next year!