Saturday, January 3, 2015

Farewell Cooking Tour: Café du Monde Cupcakes

For my final Houston baking feat, I was going to have to return to the dessert that began it all- cupcakes.  Aside from raising the blood sugar levels of my coworkers, I was also hoping to give Minh a thank you for the awesome Bánh Mì Making Tutorial earlier in the week. The only logical solution was to turn Minh's famous Café du Monde Cake into convenient hand-held form.

Café du Monde Cupcakes
Modified from the Previously Seen Cake
Batter that doubles as coffee delivery system
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Time: 75 minutes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, peeled and chopped well
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp Cafe du Monde coffee powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup brewed Cafe du Monde Coffee (you can add milk to get total volume)
1 Batch previously seen Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting
It's clearly very important to be consistent with your Nutella scooping...
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk the flour, well chopped hazelnuts, baking powder, salt, and coffee powder together in a large bowl. Set Aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated.
  5. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  6. Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and brewed coffee in 2-3 batches until just mixed.
  7. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  8. Fill each ~ 1/3 full with batter.
  9. Add in a spoonful of Nutella.
  10. Top with additional batter so the liners are ~ 2/3 full.
  11. Bake for 14-18 minutes until the toothpick test comes back clean (be careful not to hit the Nutella center).
  12. Let cool on wire racks.
  13. Make the amazing Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting. If you're using Nutella, stay on the light side of added powdered sugar, because it already has a lot. If you use the hippie Hazelnut Butter that I did err toward the high side.
  14. Find a skilled cake decorator to make up for your cupcake tips being in a box halfway across the country.
  15. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with hazelnuts.
Sadly, despite already having what is essentially frosting on the inside, they still require topping.
Using my vast scientific knowledge to construct a shrinking ray to bring the Café du Monde cake to its tinier form was a success. The use of gluteny flour definitely proved to be quite the step up from the gluten-free cake I had previously made, which had a weird, falling apart consistency (but still tasted damn good). Once again, this perfectly mimicked the Cafe TH original's flavor. Sure it may have lacked the traditional ice cream scoop accompaniment, but it more than made up for it with the Nutella center of awesomitude.

Michaela's piping skills are second to none
I was worried that the cupcakes were going to have to impress with their taste alone. The great move meant a lot of my baking supplies were either donated or already sitting in Charleston, and shockingly Kevin does not have a single piping tip of his own. Fortunately he has excellent taste in girlfriends/decorators, and Michaela was able to make the best out of a just a ziploc bag with the end cut off.

The Nutella tends to sink toward the bottom, but it magically always finds its way to your mouth.
Between these cupcakes and the amazing Snickerdoodle Nutella Cookie Cake, I think I helped cement my legacy in Unipixel company lore. My last day was full of free good-bye coffee and lunch, as well as careful monitoring of the rapidly depleting dessert supply in between siting with my feet up on my cleaned out desk. I may have been slightly hurt that no one grabbed my leg in an attempt to keep me from leaving, but it was a great 3 years of entering the real world. Now, it's time to scour my myriad cookbooks  as I make use of my abundant free time until employment begins anew.

Despite being my favorite cupcake and a wonderful self-portrait, my coworkers neglected this cupcake to last due to lack of frosting goodness.

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