Monday, September 12, 2011

Baking Day, Part 2

I'm in a fall mood.  Can you tell by my colors?  Yet, it's still a sweltering 90 degrees outside.  Gross. 

So on to part 2 of baking day with my friend A-.  I hinted at a secret ingredient in the (second) best frosting in the world.  Ever.  Any guesses?  Well, my friends, your wait is over.  It's.... 

!!!!!!!!!!!  That's all I can say.  I think Nutella is one of my favorite things in the word.  It's chocolaty, creamy, amazing on a spoon  toast.  It's supposedly healthy (according to the commercials).  What more could you want?  I came across quite a few recipes for Nutella cupcakes.  When I actually read them, I realized the Nutella wasn't in the cupcakes.  It was in the icing.  But there were so many variations!  Chocolate cupcakes w/Nutella icing; peanut butter cupcakes w/Nutella icing....I was overwhelmed (in a good way). 

I personally am a HUGE fan of the peanut-butter-Nutella combination (one of my favorite toast toppings of all time!), but A- isn't too fond of peanut butter, and we figured a chocolate cupcake would be too rich with Nutella icing, so we decided to go with a plain (but delicious) yellow cupcake.  And we found that recipe here: 
Just a basic yellow cupcake recipe.  I do have my old standby that I like a bit better, but these turned out almost as good.  It's a dense, buttery cake that is moist not dry (I hate that word). 

Now, for the icing.  Oh.  My.  God.  I think these cupcakes were meant to have just a teeny smear of icing on them, because we tripled the recipe and still didn't have enough icing.  However, A- and I have a tendency to eat lots of icing while we're making it- and then want a 3-inch pile of icing on top of our cupcakes, so use your best judgment. It is a basic buttercream icing with Nutella added in.   And I have to say, it is my new favorite.  Just look at it: 

Don't you just want to dive into it?  I'm drooling just looking at the pictures.  Good thing I have a few cupcakes leftover!  I will be having one for dessert! 

Then the fun part came: icing the cupcakes!  A- just bought two new decorating tips that she wanted to try out.  One is a round tip and one is a star tip and they're jumbo-sized so you can make the adorable swirl on top of the cupcakes.  So we each grabbed a tip and a bag, loaded up our icing and went to town. 

The star tip made the perfect swirls! 

The round tip: not so much.  We called these poop-cakes.

Gross.  Note: brown icing does not look good coming out of a round tip.  We dumped the icing back in the bowl and started over with the star tip.  And we got these little pieces of heaven:

Thank God A- can take pictures.  Because I sure can't.  She obviously did this one. 

So after piping out 3 batches of icing, we still had 6 naked cupcakes (the recipe made 24).  We couldn't just leave them naked.  In my opinion, cupcakes cannot exist without icing.  And we had used up the whole jar of Nutella (whoops).  And A- wanted to try out her round tip on a different color icing to see if it didn't look so much like poop.  So we made a basic buttercream icing (butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk) and tinted it a lovely shade of lavender.  And the poop round tip squeezed out a much prettier swirl of icing. 

I am definitely making these again.  Although I think next time I'm going to try peanut butter cupcakes.  I can't wait to try that flavor combination!!!  On a side note- after Baking Day, I stopped at my dad's house to give him some treats.  He called me yesterday and just RAVED about the Red Velvet Brownies.  I asked for his thoughts on the Nutella cupcakes, and he said "yeah, they were good, but those RED VELVET BROWNIES!!!!" (he has a tendency to get a little excited and shout).  So please don't take his lack of enthusiasm as a sign that these cupcakes aren't AMAZING.  Because they are.  I just don't think my dad is much of a Nutella fan.  Actually, I don't think even knows what Nutella is.  Whatever.  Just make them. 

Yellow Cupcakes
makes 24

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin cups with cupcake papers. 

2.  In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter for 30 seconds on medium speed.  Gradually add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides of bowl.  Beat 2 minutes longer.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  On low speed, alternately add flour mixture (1/3 at a time) and milk.  Beat until just blended.

4.  Divide batter evenly into muffin cups (I use an ice-cream scooper). 

5.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting. 

Nutella Frosting
(Supposedly makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.  It doesn't.  It frosted 6 in Jill-land.  Triple or quadruple the recipe.  You won't be sorry).

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup Nutella
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
1 cup powdered sugar

1.  Beat butter and Nutella together in bowl of electric mixer until combined. 

2.  Add remaining ingredients and beat on low speed until powdered sugar is incorporated.  

3.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth.  

Yummm.  Makes me want a cupcake for dinner.  Except my dinner is now ready.  Eggplant parm.  Don't worry- I didn't make it and not share the recipe with you.  I cheated and bought a frozen one.  I didn't have time to cook tonight.  But no worries- I have a really cool project that I'm going to try to start tomorrow night, and my friend S- from work is bringing me a ton of blueberries, so I will find something to do with those.  And I have found a bunch of amazing fall recipes I want to try ASAP.  I don't care if it's 90 degrees outside.   

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