Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Piedmont Hazelnut Cupcakes

This cupcake gets its name from a location in Italy that is famous for their hazelnuts.  Like my Amaretto bundt cake, I was on a quest to get a rich nut flavor into a cupcake and accent it lightly with chocolate-but this time it would be with hazelnuts.

There was a lot of experimentation involved, especially since nuts have a lot of oil in them.  In addition, I had hazelnut oil, not extract.  The first batch ended with pools of oil underneath the cupcake paper after baked, so I had to make modifications.

This recipe does not make airy cupcakes.  This means that the cupcake liners need to be filled full, because there is not a lot of rising in baking.

The end result was a moist cupcake with fairly tight crumb.  The true flavor of the hazelnuts really comes through.  These could actually stand alone as a breakfast treat, but the addition of the shiny chocolate frosting does move them into the dessert category.

The recipe is for exactly 20 cupcakes and the frosting (from Martha Stewart) makes 5 cups.  I have found that when using a decorating tip, the 5 cups will frost about 32 cupcakes.  So if you plan to just ice the cupcakes with a knife, you should 1/2 the recipe.

Piedmont Hazelnut Cupcakes
by flourtrader

1 cup of sour cream
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups or 2 1/2 sticks of butter (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp hazelnut flavoring (I used Lorann oil brand from King Arthur Flour)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 cups of flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup hazelnut flour

(courtesy of Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 lbs of semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted in a double boiler and cooled for 30 minutes)
1 cup plus 1 tbs dutch process cocoa
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs boiling water
2 1/4 cups or 4 1/2 sticks butter (room temp)
3/4 cup confectioners sugar (sifted)
1/4 tsp salt

To make cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease top edges of cupcake cavities of cupcake pan(s).  Fill cavities with 20 cupcake liners and fill the empty cavities with a little water.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl.  Then whisk in the hazelnut flour and set aside.

Fill a larger mixing bowl with butter and sugar.  With an electric mixer, beat until it becomes light and fluffy.  In another bowl, lightly beat one egg with a fork and then add it to the batter and beat for 30 seconds.  Continue to follow this process for the remaining eggs.  After all the eggs are blended, beat in the vanilla extract, hazelnut oil and sour cream.  Your batter should be quite smooth at this point.

Using a wooden spoon, fold the dry mixture into the batter until no dry streaks remain.  Scoop out batter and fill lined cupcake cavities to the top.  All batter should be evenly distributed in only 20 liners.

Place pan in oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or when top of cupcake springs back when lightly touched.  My bake time was exactly 18 minutes.

When done, remove pan and let cupcakes cool for about 3 minutes, then transfer to rack to finish cooling.  Repeat same baking and cooling process if using additional cupcake pans.

For the frosting, place cocoa into bowl of boiling water. Stir until mixture is completely dissolved and there are no lumps.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sifted confectioners sugar and salt until smooth.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Then pour in the melted chocolate chips, using a spatula to scrape all the chocolate into the bowl. Beat at low until chocolate is completely blended into the butter mixture,  stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Lastly, add the cocoa mixture and beat for about 30 seconds.  Now it is ready to be used, so you can frost your cupcakes as desired.  If you have extra frosting, you can freeze for one month or refrigerate for 5 days.  Either way, you will need to bring it to room temperature and beat it again until it returns to a smooth consistency.