Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Cupcakes (and another birthday)
Yes, we're back to that hazelnut praline mousseline cream from my previous post. This time, I used the cream as a filling for these chocolate cupcakes. It tasted like a creamy Ferrero Rocher, according to friends...minus that large nut in the middle. The cakes are ultra soft and fluffy, made softer by the creamy praline filling. I topped it with the best chocolate frosting I have ever tasted. It was so good that when I sent these cupcakes home with my mom, my sister called me just to talk about how luscious and wonderful the frosting was, especially in combination with the cake. Although the frosting takes a bit of work, it freezes very well, and I find myself spooning it onto any and every thing.
I turned twenty-five this week. A quarter of a century. I often joke to friends and family that I feel oh-so-old, even though I'm technically not. My brother-in-law reminded me of his 25th birthday party that I attended when I was 14... I did think he was oh-so-old back then. I still can't get over the fact that I'm already at that point!
I had a lovely birthday; starting with a Sunday night dinner with close friends. The boyfriend and roommate made Peking Duck, along with cold noodles and three other veggie dishes. My girl friends made dessert so I wouldn't have to: a pecan cornmeal tart and a pineapple pie.
On my actual birthday, my mom and aunt came to visit and we went out for Peruvian food. My friend Cate gave me Thomas Keller's book with her own labels inside, while Aba gave me a tumbler perfect for carrying smoothies to the market each week, since I'm perpetually hungry the entire time. Another friend sent me a pair of these gingko leaf earrings after I told her I had lost one of them. I honestly wasn't expecting anything and was so thrilled and touched.
And Joe had the best surprise of all: he installed a new stereo in my car, since all I had was a CD player (not even a tape deck!) and couldn't play any mp3s any other way. I had been making CDs up until a couple of weeks ago, and a lot of my old ones skipped towards the end.
Now I can listen via bluetooth, USB, or auxiliary cable and it. is. glorious. I have no idea how I'm going to top this one, it was possibly the most thoughtful gift of all time.
In the start of my 25th year, even though some of my oldest and dearest friends are scattered across the globe, and my sister and her family couldn't be with me, I still feel at home and happy. This is the first time that I've felt old in a good way. I feel mature, wiser, with more experience under my belt. I feel more relaxed in my skin, and content with life. I'm so happy to be where I am and I'm so looking forward to the future. It's going to be a good year.
As for these cupcakes...They were gone the same day I made them. Nuff said?
Yellow Butter Cupcakes
Adapted from Scientifically Sweet
Makes about 15 cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter at room temperature
1 large egg at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
2 tbs canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line your muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.
Add in the sugar and beat with an electric mixer until blended.
Add in the butter and beat until the mixture is combined.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients until combined.
Use a spatula to incorporate all the ingredients into the larger bowl and stir until combined.
Make sure there are no streaks of flour on the bottom of the bowl.
Divide into cupcake liners (fill them no more than halfway) and bake about 15-17 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Once baked, remove from muffin pan immediately and let cool.
Hazelnut Praline Paste
Great photo tutorial and recipe here!
Mousseline Cream w/Praline Paste
Adapted from Laduree
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbs whole milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup + 2 tbs (120g) sugar
1/4 cup (35g) cornstarch
4 ounces hazelnut praline paste
Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until slightly pale.
Add in the cornstarch. Pour a third of the hot milk over the mixture while whisking.
Whisk until combined and then pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan.
Bring to a boil while stirring with a whisk, over medium heat. Watch carefully so as not to cook your yolks! It should slightly thicken.
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes so that it's hot but not boiling.
Incorporate half of the butter until combined.
Pour into a baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool.
Once it's room temperature, whip with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add in the praline paste and the remaining butter.
Stores well in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
From Our Best Bites
Makes enough for 24 cupcakes
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
Melt the chocolate chips and set aside. Make sure it's still stir-able and soft at room temperature.
In a small saucepan, whisk the first four ingredients together, bringing to a boil.
Whisking constantly, boil for 1-3 minutes or until it becomes thickened, similar to a thinned pudding.
Remove from heat immediately and strain the mixture into a bowl.
Allow to cool completely in the fridge or freezer before using.
Beat the butter until creamy, then add the cooled chocolate mixture.
Add in the melted chocolate and beat again until well combined.
You may add more cocoa powder according to taste.
*Stores well in the freezer or fridge; just bring to room temperature before using (you may also want to beat it with an electric beater again if needed).