Monday, August 17, 2009

Mocha Hazelnut Cupcakes

I have been waiting for this day for months. And it finally came. I baked mocha cupcakes. Or at least I started out with the idea of baking mocha cupcakes. Along the way, after a bit of intensive research, my arm was "twisted" into adding Nutella to this creation. The end result was a Mocha Hazelnut cupcake.

In my esteemed opinion, there's nothing better than the smell of coffee. I've noticed that even those who detest the taste of coffee still like to get a sniff or two when they can. Personally, I can drink a few cups a day. And the only thing better than coffee is chocolate. So of course, nothing's better than coffee in chocolate cupcakes!

I first thought about making mocha cupcakes earlier this summer, when I purchased my first Mocha cupcake from the Sweet cupcake bakery in Hoboken. The cupcake was really delicious, but there was no actual coffee flavor in the cupcake. The coffee was in the buttercream icing. I was curious how a cupcake would taste if coffee was actually incorporated in the cake as well as the icing.

After countless hours of dreaming about mocha cupcakes, it was time to "put up or shut up". How To Eat A Cupcake's blog provided me with the me the most interesting version of a mocha cupcake.

Mocha Cupcakes (slightly adapted)
Makes ~12 cupcakes
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2) Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

3) In a measuring cup, combine the milk and brewed coffee.

4) In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

5) Add the egg and beat until combined.

6) Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

7) Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full.

8) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, ~16 minutes.

9) Let the cupcakes cool completely, about 1 hour.

Important! Remember to add the brown sugar when you add the granulated sugar. All I'm saying is that this step can be confusing and you wouldn't want to throw your cupcakes in the oven before asking yourself why you have brown sugar on the counter but didn't use it. I'm just saying...

And what better way to top these beautiful cupcakes, than to add some Nutella-Coffee Icing. The Cupcake Review blog provided me with a delicious recipe for this. Yum!

Nutella-Coffee Frosting (slightly adapted)
Frosts ~12 cupcakes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Nutella
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1) In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons milk with 1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee and stir until coffee is dissolved.

2) In a separate bowl, combine butter, Nutella, sugar, salt, vanilla, and the 3 tablespoons coffee-milk mixture. Mix well with electric mixer, adding more milk as needed to make a fluffy spreadable frosting.

This recipe makes enough icing to frost 12 cupcakes if just spreading it on with a knife. If you want to pipe it onto the cupcakes, I would suggest doubling the recipe.

The best part of this endeavor was the tasting afterward. The cupcake itself was moist inside and a little crumbly. The mocha flavor was there, but it was pretty mild. My roommate, Kimmy, and I thought the cupcake could have remained in the oven for another minute or two, but it depends on your preference. If you like a more fudgy consistency, then 16 minutes it is! When eating the cupcake with the icing, the pairing went very well. The icing had a lot more coffee flavor than the cupcake, which I loved, but Kimmy wasn't too keen on as she doesn't drink coffee. The Nutella wasn't as pronounced as I would have liked, so the hazelnut flavor in the cupcake was a wee bit lacking. Overall, the icing paired well with the cupcake to provide just the right amount of mocha flavor in my opinion.

Kimmy wa
s a trooper and carried a cupcake sample to her co-worker/"TBK Cupcake Taster" Rene. His thoughts: He really liked the icing and the flavoring proportions were perfect, no too sweet, not too overpowering. As for the cake, it was a little too dry and crumbly for his taste. He would have preferred to see a richer consistency throughout the cake.

In my defense, though, Rene didn't taste the cupcake until 2-3 days after I make it, so I think the cake issues should be rendered moot. But I'm glad the flavoring proportions were still "perfect" after a few days time!

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