Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nutella Cupcakes & Bailey's Irish Cream Cocoa Frosting

I'm not really a huge fan of hazelnuts and I really don't like when hazelnuts get mixed into my chocolate—like in boxed truffles and chocolate ganache in restaurants—but there is one exception to my rule: Nutella.  I love Nutella.  I still remember those school lunches in elementary school that my mom used to pack for me.  It was also such a thrill to discover a sandwich in my lunchbag, because a sandwich could only mean one thing: Nutella.  We didn't really do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my house because we didn't often have jelly or jam, and if we did, then we probably didn't have peanut butter.  Our fridge also didn't always have bread, so sandwiches were a rare lunch item.  I grew up eating rice for lunch.  But that's another story, for another day.

Those Nutella sandwiches were such a treat.  The soft white bread with the creamy chocolate-y filling.  I didn't even know Nutella had hazelnuts in it until I was a teenager; I really thought it was just a chocolate spread.  And by the time I actually read the label and discovered my mistake, I was too in love to back out.  Nutella and I, we're in it for the long haul.

Come on, who doesn't love Nutella?  And it's not just for sandwiches.  I have friends who dip strawberries in it, who will eat a spoonful of Nutella with an apple, who use nutella as frosting.  It was the last one that really struck a chord with me.  Nutella as frosting?  Well, what about Nutella inside baked goods?  There was something I wanted to try.

And sure enough, I stumbled upon a Nutella cupcake recipe that I liked enough to completely redesign and make my own.  That's how I work.  I see ideas, I like them, and then I scrap the original and rebuild things my way.  Kind of like Disney does with classic fairy tales.  I use recipes as only a backbone or foundation.

This Nutella cupcake is definitely good and I will be making it again, but perhaps with two changes: I doubled the amount of Nutella from the original recipe, but next time I would increase it more to give the cupcakes an even more pronounced Nutella flavor.  Also, I neglected to throw in my usual little pinch of salt because, well, I forgot, and I think that's something that would have rounded out the flavors more.  I like this recipe as a mini cupcake recipe because the bite-sized cakes are cute and perfect for serving, but if you want to make full-sized cupcakes, just increase your baking time to 18-20 minutes.  Either way, this cupcake is a crowd pleaser.  My parents loved it, as did my sister, and my friends who tried it.

I don't normally do frosting, but this time I thought it would be appropriate, especially since I was making them for my sister's birthday.  I found a recipe for a Kahlua frosting that I really wanted to try, especially because I thought the coffee and chocolate notes of the liquor would complement the Nutella flavors well.  But, to my surprise, our house was out of Kahlua.  I was shocked.  It's one of those things that we always have.  Like flour or cinnamon or lime zest (we keep that stocked in the freezer).  I was at a lost for a while, until I remember hey, I don't normally work from recipes!  And so I made something up.

I saw that we had Bailey's Irish Cream, and that's not too different from Kahlua, so I decided to improvise.  But, as luck would have it, we also happened to be out of powder sugar, which is inconvenient if you want to make frosting.  I thought about running to the store, but I was feeling lazy and this frosting was just for family, so I knew I would be forgiven for a slightly grainy texture.  I ended up using just what I had on hand, and it turned out very well.  My mom says the frosting is the most addictive thing she's ever tasted, and she's not into frosting.  My sister mourned the fact that she forgot to bring the cupcakes and frosting to work with her the next day.  These two recipes are definitely keepers.  Easy to make and definite crowd pleasers; what's not to like?  Plus boozy frosting is great for an adult twist on a childhood dessert like mini cupcakes.

Nutella Cupcakes
adapted from Tartlette

1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
110 g light brown sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup Nutella (I might increase this to 3/4 cup next time)
2 large eggs
200g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

With an electric mixer (or better yet a stand mixer), whip the butter, sugar, and Nutella until fluffy on medium speed, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer to add the cocoa powder and milk.  Once fully incorporated, add the eggs, one at time, mixing at medium speed until combined, stopping to scrape the bowl down at least twice.
Add the flour in three separate additions (meaning add 1/3, then fold to combine, add another 1/3, fold to combine).  In the last addition, also add the baking soda. Briefly beat with the mixer until just combined.
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Place 48 mini muffin liners muffin liners inside 2 mini muffin pans.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin liners and bake for about 8-10 minutes.
Let cool completely before frosting, or enjoy on their own.
Yields 48 mini cupcakes.

Bailey's Irish Cocoa Frosting
1 stick (8 tbsp) salted butter, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar  (I used less than 2 cups granulated sugar)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3-4 tbsp Bailey's Irish
1-2 tbsp heavy whipped cream (optional: depending on how smooth you like your frosting)

Beat the butter until light and creamed. Add a cup of the sugar and mix well.
Add the cocoa and Bailey's and mix till smooth.
Add another cup of sugar, and more if needed, to taste.
Add heavy whipping cream to obtain preferred frosting consistency.


  1. Looks amazing. I'll definitely have to try the recipe sometime!

  2. I was in a French bakery recently and they had Nutella-filled croissants. Everyone said they were delicious.

  3. We definitely need to be neighbors when we grow up.