Hazelnuts are the taste of Autumn for me, they even look the part, all brown and wholesome and perfectly at home amongst orange and umber leaves ripe for kicking.
The humble hazelnut really comes into her own when roasted. For me the difference in taste is so huge the unroasted hazelnut seems unworthy of baking with. This recipe demands roasted hazelnuts – if you can’t buy them ready roasted simply gently heat in a dry frying pan. Keep an eye on them though as they go from toasted to burnt in seconds. And remove from the pan once they’ve browned – hot pans carry on cooking!
These cupcakes were a happy accident, what happens when a tub of crème fraiche is begging to be used up. And what a happy accident! The chocolate sponge is dense and moist without feeling too heavy. The sponge holds little surprise studs of roasted hazelnut and the icing… well the icing is possibly my favourite thing to have been mixed with my trusty Kitchen Aid this year. It’s sweet without being saccharine, it’s light and creamy and as for the taste… the perfect combination of chocolate and hazelnut without any grittiness. Enjoy.
Chocolate hazelnut cupcakes with Nutella buttercream
- 170g soft salted butter
- 140g dark muscovado sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 250g crème fraiche
- 150g plain flour
- 50g cocoa
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100g chopped roasted hazelnuts
For the icing:
- 230g salted butter, soft
- 250g icing sugar
- 150g Nutella
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 30mls double cream
- 12 whole hazelnuts, skinless and roasted or chocolate curls to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with cases. Beat the butter in your Kitchen Aid with the flat beater until really soft and creamy looking, about 4 minutes. Alternatively beat by hand for longer. Add the sugar and beat until well combined – another 3 minutes in the stand mixer. Beat the eggs and then add dribble by dribble, beating well after each addition. If the mixture curdles add a little of the flour.
Beat in the crème fraiche, then sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and hazelnuts over the top and fold into the mixture. Divide between the cupcake cases and bake for 25 – 30 minutes until a skewer comes out of the cakes clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Beat the butter for the icing until soft and creamy using the flat beater in your Kitchen Aid or a wooden spoon by hand. Add the icing sugar 1 tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the Nutella and beat again, then the extract and cream. Beat for a further 3 minutes on the highest speed to ensure a really light and creamy icing.
Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes using a Wilton 1M nozzle or spread with a knife, and top with some chocolate curls or a roasted, skinless hazelnut.