In the baking world, it’s all about the power of possibilities. Baking is basically made up of components. Components such as cake, fillings, frostings, mousses, sauces… you get the idea. Once you have a tried and true recipe repertoire, the combinations of these components are endless. Most of the fun in developing recipes and writing cookbooks is pairing flavors and components in a new and interesting way. Or, in the case of my latest cookbook, bringing authentic Italian flavors up to date. One of my favorite flavors is coffee ( I think I’ve been drinking coffee since I was about 5! ) and another one is hazelnuts ( I grew up calling them filberts). Putting them together in cupcake form certainly updates this classic combination. My tried and true hazelnut cake, filled with a rich coffee mousse ( cupcakes in my world should always have fillings) and topped with a classic chocolate buttercream. Possibly perfect.
My two favorite Italian flavors combine in this cupcake. This is one of our biggest sellers, especially for the holidays.
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons Frangelico or other
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup hazelnuts, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
Coffee Mousse Filling
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons instant coffee
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup granulated sugar
Chocolate- Espresso Buttercream Frosting
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup unsweetened Dutch- process
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
About 4 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
MAKE THE HAZELNUT CUPCAKES
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line standard-size cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), on medium-high speed, whip the eggs until fluff y. Gradually add the granulated sugar and mix until very light, 5 to 6 minutes. Gradually add the oil and Frangelico and mix until well blended.
3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until blended.
4. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
5. Fill the lined cupcake pans three- quarters full with the batter.
6. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out with a fine crumb.
7. Remove the pans from the oven. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pans and transfer to wire racks to cool. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
MAKE THE FILLING
8. In a small bowl, add the boiling water to the instant coffee. Set aside.
9. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, whip the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and coffee mixture and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Use immediately.
MAKE THE FROSTING
10. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), combine the butter, cocoa, 3 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the coffee and beat on low speed until blended. Gradually add the remaining 3 cups confectioners’ sugar and beat on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. If the frosting seems too stiff to use, add some additional coffee. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Let the frosting come to room temperature and re- whip before using.
ASSEMBLE THE CUPCAKES
11. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse filling. Cut the tip of the pastry bag to make a small opening. Insert the tip of the bag into the center of the cupcake. Squeeze the bag to release the mousse into the center of the cupcake. Repeat until all the cupcakes are filled.
12. Fill another pastry bag with the frosting. Pipe the frosting onto the top of each cupcake, starting at the outer edge and circling in to the center. (Or spread the frosting on top of the cupcake with a small spatula.) Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Refrigerate until serving. Let the cupcakes come to room temperature for serving.
Makes 15 standard-size cupcakes
More possibilities!! Frost cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting or chocolate ganache or white chocolate ganache……….