I’m not really one to delight in picking out a cupcake from behind a glass counter, peeling back the paper case and nibbling at the hidden fairy cake beneath it, only to inevitably smear a thick sugar cloud of buttercream on my nose. As C can attest at my behaviour in Paris, I would be more likely found with my nose pressed against the windows of L’Eclair de génie or Pierre Hermé to fulfill my patisserie needs. I’d more than happily have a pear macaron crumble at the slightest touch in my fingertips or smudge my lipstick biting into a lemon meringue eclair. The cupcake fashion just seemed to pass me by, the exception being Kirsten Wiig’s solo baking scene in Bridesmaids, baking one beautiful cupcake for herself late at night, devouring the entire thing over the kitchen counter. That is something I can totally get on board with.
To counteract my cupcake avoidance, the pink paper cases are not filled with soft sponge but a fudgey brownie thanks to a little kitchen experimentation one Saturday morning. Thick spoonfuls of Nutella bind the mixture into a mudslide of rich chocolate, which when baked goes worryingly hard upon cooling. But prised apart with a fork or pulled with your fingertips, the cakes reveal a crisp chewy exterior and a soft fudge-like interior. Swirled with a Nutella buttercream balanced with smoked sea salt flakes, these cupcakes are just a little bit grown up, especially with a little shimmer of gold lustre spray and some toasted hazelnuts. I think surprising your mam with a cake stand full of these cupcake/brownie hybrids with a bottle of chilled prosecco on standby would be an ideal gift for Mother’s Day. Just remember the forks, unless you want frosting on your nose.
Cupcakes loosely based on a Nigella recipe and frosting recipe barely adapted from Call Me Cupcake
- -For the brownie cupcakes
- 125g unsalted butter
- 100g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp Nutella
- 150g self raising flour
- 2 tbsp milk
- -For the frosting
- 200g unsalted butter, softened
- 200g good quality milk chocolate, melted and cooled
- 2 tbsp cold, strong coffee
- 2 tbsp Nutella
- generous pinch smoked sea salt
- 60g hazelnuts
- Gold lustre spray to finish
- Preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases. Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and ensure the bowl does not touch the water. Add the butter and slowly melt before carefully lifting the bowl off the heat and stirring in the chocolate with a heatproof spatula. Once melted together, add the caster sugar, Nutella and eggs and stir until thick and chocolatey. Fold in the flour and add the milk to loosen the mixture slightly. Spoon roughly one tablespoon of batter into each case until the tray is filled. I had a little leftover so filled two more cases and set aside to bake later as I only have one muffin tin. Place the tray on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove each cupcake and cool completely on a wire rack. Bake any remaining cupcakes.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large bowl or stand mixer using the paddle or beater attachments for around five minutes until pale. Add the chocolate, taking care that it is cool or it will split the frosting. Beat together until creamy then add the cold coffee and Nutella and beat again. Add a good pinch of smoked sea salt to balance the sweetness a little then refrigerate the frosting for around 20 minutes to firm up slightly to make it easier to spread.
- Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake in the still-hot oven for around 2-3 minutes until fragrant and toasted. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before chopping half of them fairly finely and leaving some nuts whole. Spray with edible lustre spray.
- To assemble, dollop a spoonful of frosting on top of each cupcake and tease around the edges using a rounded palette knife. To create a swirl, hold the cupcake in your left hand and turn it counter-clockwise as you run the knife across the top, pressing downward, in the opposite direction. It doesn't have to look too neat, the idea is to create some texture for the lustre spray to accentuate. Sprinkle over the chopped and whole hazelnuts and give each cupcake a dusting of shimmer with the gold lustre spray. Serve with prosecco and a fork if you’re feeling fancy or a cup of black coffee and your fingers if you’re not.
I feel the same – I don’t think I’ve ever really fancied eating a cupcake. The ratio of icing tends to be way off on ones you don’t bake at home (so. much. icing.) and when I’m setting to in the kitchen, I much prefer a brownie or a cookie! I love the idea of individual frosted brownies, though – that I can get on board with!
Thanks Amy, I agree with the buttercream to cake ratio – it always seems to be off! Glad you like the idea of frosted brownies, I’ve just polished another one off with a coffee 🙂
Adaleta Avdic says
Anything with Nutella has my complete vote, these are amazing. Bookmarking this page because I will need this for later 🙂 xx adaatude.com