Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cupcake-palooza '15: Vanilla Buttermilk Nutella Cupcakes

Recently, I have felt strongly compelled to return to the humble beginnings of my baking dreams and reignited my love of cupcakery. In the month of April alone, I have managed to make as many cupcake posts (see also Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes and Hummingbird Cupcakes) as I did in the previous two years. While this resurgence of living a hard life of cupcaking is likely an attempt to assert my alpha maleness on my new city (bad bakers 4 life!), it has been a most welcome one amongst my friends and coworkers. This past weekend, we hosted a party for the residents in Robin's program and I knew exactly what baked goodness I needed to contribute to the festivities.

Vanilla Buttermilk Nutella Cupcakes
Modified Heavily from Martha Stewart
Servings: 36 cupcakes
Time: 45 minutes
Crazy thin batter

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Nutella (lots of it)
1 batch Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
Awesome sprinkles

As you can see, I was very scientific and precise with my Nutella spoonfuls.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Mix the eggs, water, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract together in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones in 2-3 increments. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. Top with a spoonful of Nutella in the center.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the toothpick test comes out clean.
  7. Make the single greatest use of sugar in all of existence, Nutella cream cheese frosting. Stick to the lower end of powdered sugar if using actual Nutella. 
  8. Sprinkle until your inner child is satisfied and enjoy.
The Nutella is practically teasing you with just a hint of its presence.
Nutella is the single greatest weapon someone could have to make simple desserts seem amazingly rich and complex. The vanilla buttermilk cupcakes themselves were nicely moist and bouncy (thanks to employing my current obsession of using oil over butter and the super aerating buttermilk), but they would have benefited from a little more vanilla. Fortunately the gooey Nutella center instantly catapults the cake into rarified air. Even with all those great components, everything plays second fiddle to the Nutella cream cheese frosting (which managed to entrap Robin in its Siren spell). This frosting is the stuff of dreams (to quote our friend Bridget), and has proven to yet again to be the best use of sugar that I have ever found (see Cafe du Monde Cupcakes). In the end, these cupcakes were essentially a grown-up flavor blasted version of everyone's favorite yellow cake with chocolate frosting that is sure to have you and your guests salivating for more.

If for some reason you do not have a cupboard full of sprinkles, feel free to improvise and use fruit instead.

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