I must admit that long before this month's cupcake was selected, I had gazed at it longingly in the book. I mean, look at those candied hazelnut toppers. What show stoppers! Could I actually create something as beautiful as the photo?
I divided this month's project into three parts: The cupcake, the frosting and the topper. Each part had merit on its own.
THE CUPCAKE: Almond-Hazelnut Cupcake
The cupcake began with toasting almonds and hazelnuts. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of nuts in baked goods. I think it's a texture thing. Kind of like celery in jello.
These, however, were finely ground. Of course, I've never owned a food processor and my blender made it's way into the trash a couple weeks ago. I knew my patience was not up to finely ground chopping. Fortunately, I had my handy dandy parmesan cheese grater. It made a good plan B.
Like last month's chocolate chip cupcakes, this one only used the egg whites.
Once again, my furry friend feasted on a four egg-yolk omelet.
Did I mention that I'm his favorite?
The folded in egg whites made the batter light and fluffy.
Aren't they beautiful?
You can find the recipe here!
THE FROSTING: Dark Chocolate Frosting
So I guess I forgot to take a single photo of the icing process. I've made this icing a few times now, and I think I've tweaked it to perfection: Less butter, more sugar.
Here's my revised version. (I don't think Martha will mind!)
Simple Girl's Dark Chocolate Frosting
6 Tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Combine the cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Add melted chocolate. Beat until combined.
In my opinion, the additional sugar did not compromise the essence of the dark chocolate, and with the reduced butter, the frosting was still light and glossy!
THE TOPPERS: Candied Hazelnuts
Finally, no candy thermometer required! (Although I really need to get one!)
Just boil the sugar and water until amber.
The instructions called for an ice-water bath.
This just didn't work for me. It cooled too quickly leaving a crystallized rock.
As I reheated the caramel, I thought of Leo DiCaprio clinging to the large ice chunks that were floating around the sinking Titanic, hoping that this project wouldn't be an equal disaster. I really wanted those pretty spikes!
Here's the skewered hazelnuts.
And here they are dipped, dripping off the side of my kitchen counter.
Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?
Except this, maybe!
OK, just a few more pictures...
The Husband: Cupcakes, So-So
The Son: Frosting is Heavenly
Me: A nice combination and a beautiful display
Thanks to Jeannette at The Whimsical Cupcake for this month's selection! To visit our other bakers, click here!