I've been using this chocolate cupcakes recipe for years ever since my mom and I found it in Cook's Illustrated a while back, and I love it. The buttercream frosting recipe was new, however, and it was so delicious! I loved the Nutella flavor. It wasn't overpowering, but it was just enough so that you taste it and still know it is a hazelnut buttercream. Then, since I was feeling so adventurous, I made some rolled fondant (homemade) to decorate the tops. I had a blast! I don't really suggest the recipe I used, but you can make some at home or buy it in stores, or not use it at all and decorate with buttercream.
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Hazelnut Buttercream
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa
- ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup butter
- ½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread
- 1¼ cups powdered sugar
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- milk, as needed
Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with baking cup liners and set aside.
Combine the butter, chocolate, and cocoa in a medium heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between, until it is smooth and there are no more chunks of chocolate. Set this aside to cool until just warm to the touch. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl to combine. In the bowl an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar to combine. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then add in the remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 – 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan for about 15 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire rack completely before frosting, about 30 minutes.
Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater attachment, beat the butter and hazelnut spread together until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt and continue to beat until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add milk as needed to thin out the buttercream to reach your desired consistency (I used about 2 teaspoons total). Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles and fondant (optional).