I’ve had this idea in the back of my head for a couple weeks now–A hot chocolate cupcake of sorts. It’s winter, hot chocolate is a festive holiday, come-in-from-the-cold drink. Most people immediately go for Peppermint Hot Cocoa, but y’know, I’m not a huge fan of peppermint. I can take it in small doses. I prefer spearmint–Much milder and sweeter. I wanted something a little different, so I went with my favorite hot chocolate flavor, which is hazelnut. Thus, Hazelnut Hot Chocolate Cupcakes were created:
Aided by Nutella Buttercream Frosting, these are sweet little spongecakes made with ground hazelnuts. And they are to die for.
I was afraid that this idea might flop, like so many of my best blogging and recipe intentions. But it worked out beautifully enough that I gave away a bunch of these as gifts to some of my guinea pigs and taste-testers.
With plenty left at home for me to jam down my gullet, of course! Quite a few people proclaimed these the best cupcakes I’ve made yet. I think I have to agree.
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 C whole milk
For the Frosting:
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 13-oz. jar of Nutella/chocolate-hazelnut spread
6 C powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1/4 C + 2 Tbsp. whole milk
72 mini marshmallows
8 Pirouline wafers, each cut into 3 pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the chocolate chips until they are finely chopped (larger bits and whole chips are okay). Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder and sea salt in a small mixing bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, begin creaming together the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combined. Add the vanilla.
Drop the speed to low, and begin adding the flour/hazelnut mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined.
Using a large (3 Tbsp.) scoop, place the batter in the lined muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire racks.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and the jar of Nutella on medium speed for about 3 minutes. With the speed on low, begin adding in the powdered sugar. You may need to add a couple tablespoons of the milk, if the frosting gets too thick.
Once all the powdered sugar has been added, add the vanilla and any additional milk if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Increase the speed to high, and whip for 3-4 minutes.
Frost the cupcakes as desired, either by spreading the frosting on with an offset knife or by using a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Top each cupcake with 3 mini-marshmallows and a third of a Pirouline wafer.