Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes | Cravings & Crumbs

If you were to open my pantry cupboards you’d find, like most people, different bags and boxes of pasta, various types of canned beans, and canisters full of bags with small amounts of assorted grains, dried legumes, and nuts bought from the bulk section at the grocery store.  I just can’t resist the fact that I can buy as much or as little as I want.  I’m like a kid in a candy store, filling bags with a little of this and a little of that, some old favorites, and some that I’m not sure I like yet, but I want to try out.  The favorites usually get eaten first and the others left to languish, waiting for a spark of inspiration.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes | Cravings & Crumbs

That’s how I ended up with a small bag of hazelnuts – just enough, I thought, for an early March salad of roasted beets and gorgonzola.  Well, I got busy and forgot about the beets at the bottom of the fridge drawer and once I remembered I just didn’t feel like eating them.  I did however feel like eating chocolate cupcakes, and so I did, topping them with the toasted and chopped hazelnuts that narrowly escaped their healthy fate.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes | Cravings & Crumbs

Chocolate and hazelnuts are a classic combination.  We’ve all had a crepe smeared with Nutella or a box of Ferrero Rocher during the holidays, but these cupcakes are just a little more festive, can be made ahead, and combine the best of both the creamy rich frosting and the crunch of the hazelnuts.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes | Cravings & Crumbs

These cupcakes use an adaptation of one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes as the base.  It only uses one bowl and doesn’t require softened butter so it can easily be made with little to no advanced planning.  The best part is that even when using regular cocoa powder, the boiling water “blooms” the cocoa to deepen the chocolatey flavor.  So go ahead, save the good stuff for the frosting where it will really shine.  

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes | Cravings & Crumbs

Biting into one of these you’ll find a light and moist cake, a rich and creamy chocolate frosting, accented by the crunch of the toasted hazelnuts.  Perfection.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes
Yields 12
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Cupcakes
  1. 1 c. sugar
  2. 1 c. all-purpose flour
  3. ¼ c. + 2 T. cocoa powder
  4. ¾ t. baking soda
  5. ¾ t. baking powder
  6. ½ t. salt
  7. 1 egg
  8. ½ c. milk
  9. ¼ c. vegetable oil
  10. 1 t. vanilla extract
  11. ½ c. boiling water
Frosting
  1. ½ c. butter, softened
  2. 1 ¾ c. powdered sugar
  3. ¼ c. cocoa powder
  4. Pinch of salt
  5. 2 T. milk or heavy cream
  6. 2 oz. raw hazelnuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Sift sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add egg, milk and vegetable oil and whisk to combine. Add boiling water and vanilla and whisk again to combine. The batter will be very thin.
  3. Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full with batter and bake for 22-25 minutes.
  4. Add hazelnuts to a small pan and bake along with the cupcakes for 10-15 minutes, watching closely so they don’t burn. You want the hazelnuts to be toasted and fragrant.
  5. While cupcakes and hazelnuts are cooling make your frosting. Combine all ingredients except the milk to a bowl and beat using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add milk a little bit at a time until your frosting is the consistency you want.
  6. Lay out a clean dish towel and pour the hazelnuts on top. Fold over the sides to cover and rub/roll the hazelnuts around to remove most of their skins. Remove to a cutting board and chop.
  7. To assemble smear a thin layer of frosting on the cupcakes, then either sprinkle the hazelnuts on top or press the frosting directly in the hazelnuts for a thicker coating.
Notes
  1. The frosting recipe makes more than you’ll need for only a dozen cupcakes, but trying to whip less than a half cup of butter gets tricky. If you want, the cupcake recipe easily doubles to match the quantity of frosting.
  2. Pro tip - cocoa powder has a tendency to clump, so if you don’t want to bother with sifting just add the egg and milk first, whisking/stirring into a thick paste to break up the little lumps, then add vegetable oil and proceed as normal.
Adapted from Hershey's
Adapted from Hershey's
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Lemon and Blackberry Mascarpone Cake

Lemon Blackberry Cake | Cravings & Crumbs

Guys, I’m really excited about this cake.  Why?  For so many reasons!  First off, it was ridiculously easy – so easy I can barely even remember making it the next day.  Second, the taste is amazing.  This cake is all sorts of quintessential spring dessert – there’s lemon and fresh berries, the mascarpone is rich, but the cake is light.  Not to mention, it’s beautiful in it’s simplicity.  Just like the daffodil that blooms next to a mud puddle, this cake has a natural beauty, but the bare cut edges of the cake bring you back to reality.  And that’s another thing I love about it – I don’t believe in stuffy food.  Nothing and nobody should be perfect all the time, or even try to be.  I prefer life to be a little rough around the edges – it’s better that way.

Lemon Blackberry Cake | Cravings & Crumbs

This cake was inspired by my simultaneous need to use up buttermilk and a clamshell container of fresh blackberries.  I know we’ve all been there with the buttermilk.  If you buy it for one recipe you’re inevitably left with at least half a carton.  This cake helps, but just a little bit.  The recipe came together little by little, following a trail of breadcrumbs of inspiration.

Lemon Blackberry Cake | Cravings & Crumbs

Here the buttermilk lends a very moist and delicate crumb, which makes it delightful to eat, but hard to get a clean cut.  Refrigerating the cake for 30 minutes should help if you want nice clean edges, but I think this cake has more personality with crumbs and slightly jagged edges.  Once you get the cake filled and the layers stacked, you definitely won’t be able to cut a perfect piece, so don’t plan on serving this if you’re trying to impress with perfect slices.  I promise though, people will ask you for the recipe.  It’s that good.

Lemon Blackberry Cake | Cravings & Crumbs

Flavorwise, this cake is a real winner.  Blackberries, lemon, cream and vanilla are a hard combo to say no to.  It’s simple and delicious.  

Lemon Blackberry Cake | Cravings & CrumbsThe cake batter is based, very loosely, on one from the New York Times, which adapted it from the Joy of Cooking.  I started out making a full batch in a jelly roll pan, but once I started stacking the layers I realized if I went any higher than two my cake would probably topple over.  In accordance, the recipe below has been halved.  I also swapped the cake flour for all-purpose without any noticeable difference in texture.  I wanted this to be a fancy sort of everyday cake – the kind you just whip up – and everyday cakes shouldn’t use anything but all-purpose.

Lemon Blackberry Cake | Cravings & Crumbs

Lemon and Blackberry Cake with Mascarpone
Serves 6
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Cake
  1. 1 c. + 2 t. all-purpose flour
  2. ¾ t. baking powder
  3. ¼ t. baking soda
  4. ¼ t. salt
  5. 3 T. unsalted butter, softened
  6. ⅔ c. granulated sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. ½ c. full fat buttermilk
  9. ½ t. vanilla
  10. Zest of 1 medium lemon
Filling
  1. 1 cup (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  2. ¼ c. granulated sugar
  3. ½ t. vanilla
  4. 5 t. lemon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
  5. ¼ c. milk
  6. 12 oz. container blackberries
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9x9 square baking pan.
  2. Mix together dry flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Add softened butter and sugar to a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer or a whisk, cream the butter and sugar until completely combined.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the buttermilk and flour mixture in three parts, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest with the final buttermilk addition.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to make sure it’s distributed evenly. Bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool at least 15 minutes in the pan. The cake will pull away from the sides as it cools.
Filling and assembly
  1. Add the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and milk to a bowl. Using an electric hand beater or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat all ingredients together until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a pastry bag or the corner of a gallon ziploc with the tip cut off.
  2. Cut the cake in half to create two rectangles and trim the edges so all sides are exposed, just like how you would cut the crusts off of toast.
  3. Place the first layer on your serving platter. Using the pastry bag, pipe dots or a ruffled line around the perimeter of the cake to create a decorative edge. Fill in the center with a thin layer of the filling. Place rows of blackberries across the short way, leaving a little space in between each row to make it easier to cut slices later.
  4. Place the second layer on top and, following the same steps for decorating, pipe a decorative perimeter and place rows of blackberries. Pipe dots in between the blackberries to fill in the top.
  5. Refrigerate if not serving right away. This cake should hold up well in the fridge, although I can only attest to one day, as that’s how long it lasted in my house.
Notes
  1. To get a cleaner cut on the cake layers, refrigerate for about 30 minutes prior to cutting. Use a paper towel with a little vegetable oil to coat both sides of your knife before each cut.
  2. This cake easily doubles and can be baked in a 12x17 jelly roll pan. In fact I halved the recipe after my first round of testing. However, if you double the recipe be sure not to go any higher than two layers. Lining the pan with parchment is a good idea to be able to lift it out of the pan.
Cravings & Crumbs http://www.cravingsandcrumbs.com/
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Strawberry Empanadas

Strawberry Empanadas | Cravings & Crumbs

One of the great things about living in California is that you can find an abundance of fresh produce year round.  While obviously everything is best in season, even in winter you can find tomatoes, strawberries, pineapple, and so many other spring or summer season fruits and veggies that I consider to taste good enough and didn’t have to travel very far to get to me.  However, the smaller farms that sell at the farmer’s markets stick to the seasons so I was still excited to see the first of the season’s strawberries pop up at the Sunday Jack London farmer’s market in Oakland.   Read More

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Lemon Cream Tart

Lemon Cream Tart

Last week it was my dad’s 68th birthday and when I asked him what he wanted he said lemon pie.  This is the guy whose favorite dessert of his mother’s was lemon meringue pie and who has been talking about making lemon bars for at least two years, since the last time he made them.  So you could say I was less than surprised by his request.  Yeah, he likes lemon…

Lemon Cream Tart

I don’t make pies or tarts very often, so after a few days of stressing about how I would get all the steps done, imagining completing one part of the recipe each day after work, I just started look at recipes and pulling elements that would actually make this dessert doable.   Read More

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One-Bowl Cardamom Coffee Cake

Cardamom Coffee Cake

A few weeks ago someone in my office brought in homemade cookies and quietly laid them out with a small sign, “Holiday Snickerdoodles”.  Imagine my surprise when I took a bite and they weren’t any ordinary snickerdoodle, but cardamom and currant snickerdoodles!  What a pleasant turn the morning was taking and I hadn’t even finished my coffee yet.  They looked so unassuming on a paper plate, covered up with a paper towel – they weren’t winning any points for presentation, but these cookies spoke for themselves with the first bite.  They were so good they didn’t make it to the next day, but I couldn’t get them out of my mind. Read More

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