Ah, Nutella. My old friend. Nutella is the sensation that is sweeping the nation/world/Internet/universe, and while I do enjoy its chocolate-y hazelnut-ness, I’m not as big of a fan of it as everyone else seems to be. I can never have more than a spoonful of it at a time, and I don’t like it spread on my toast or on anything else.
Which brought me to a dilemma. I had purchased a can of Nutella a few months ago, and after eating small amounts for about a week, I lost interest, and it sat in the cupboard, alone, unwanted, and suffering ever since. I know. It’s practically a war crime, you say. So I had to come up with something to use it for.
As it happened, my friend Beth’s birthday was coming up, and I usually bake her something for such occasions. After asking her if she enjoys Nutella (she does), I decided to bake her a thing with Nutella in it, so I could hopefully use up the rest of the can and finally get rid of it.
Flipping through the chocolate recipes book Sophie got me, I came across a cupcake recipe that required no special frosting to be made — you would just frost it with Nutella. And I knew I’d found The One.
And best of all, I wouldn’t need to buy any ingredients except sour cream.
For those of you not familiar with making cakes, you might be wondering what the hell sour cream is doing in a cupcake recipe. Believe me, I thought that myself the first time I came across a cake recipe that included sour cream. I mean, you wouldn’t smell and look at sour cream and immediately think, “Oh boy, I should put this in some pastry!” But the fact of the matter is, a little sour cream will make your cake nice and moist and delicious. It adds a special kind of flavor as well.
This recipe was simple enough, although it required bittersweet chocolate and all I had on hand was unsweetened. I could’ve just bought some bittersweet chocolate, but I’d been trying to get rid of this unsweetened chocolate for ages, just like the Nutella. So, when I melted the chocolate in the microwave, I added some powdered sugar to make it sweeter. Unfortunately, this made the chocolate thick like a frosting (yeah, I know, obvious), so I tried melting it a little more to make it thinner. It… worked a little.
Doesn’t that look appetizing? But don’t worry, it’ll look less like an oil spill after it’s been mixed in.
I added my dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, until —
I always seems to have problems with the lighting when taking these photos, though. I keep having to change it in order to make the photos look decent. But I guess that’s what happens when you don’t really know what you’re doing…
Anyway, the dough was very sticky, so it was difficult getting it into the cupcake liners, but it all turned out alright in the end.
OMNOMNOMNOM. Don’t they look delicious? And they were. I think the unsweetened chocolate gave it more of a kick than the bittersweet chocolate would have, since it wasn’t a lot to begin with anyway.
I was torn between putting the Nutella in a pastry bag and making it all fancy, and just spreading it on with a knife. So I made a compromise and the cupcakes that were for Beth were frosted fancifully, and the leftover ones I just slapped it on. Except, um, I accidentally used a smaller star tip than I’d intended, but it gave it a more interesting look, I think.
The Nutella doesn’t really overpower these, which is good for people like me who like Nutella but not in excess. And it works pretty perfectly as a frosting, although it’s a fucking pain in the ass to clean. But on the way to Manhattan for Beth’s party, I accidentally flipped the container over and the Nutella stuck to the top and ruined the prettiness of the cupcakes. But I’m sure it still tasted good.
Happy 22nd Birthday, Beth! I hope you liked the cupcakes and the playlist.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Hazelnut Topping (from The Golden Book of Chocolate)
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of Nutella, or another hazelnut spread (but why would you use anything besides Nutella, what is wrong with you)
Toasted walnuts for decoration, if desired
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, then set aside. Melt the chocolate (whether in the microwave or in a double boiler) and let it cool while you beat the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in an electric mixer at high speed. Mix until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla, and with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Divide the batter into muffins tins with liner, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool, then frost with the Nutella.