Made with ground almonds and hazelnuts and covered with dark chocolate frosting, these cupcakes are worth serving on their own, without any other embellishments. Add a sleek touch to a significant celebration, such as an engagement party, by topping the cupcakes with striking caramel-dipped hazelnut spikes.
Dark chocolate frosting is shown, but caramel buttercream is another option (and would complement the toppers).
Gourmet Hazelnut Cupcake Recipe
1/2 cup whole unblanched almonds, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. In a food processor, pulse together almonds and hazelnuts until finely ground (do not overprocess, or the nuts will turn into a paste). Into a mixing bowl, sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in the ground nuts.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating well after each.
In another mixing bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. In two additions, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Using an offset spatula, spread frosting over each cupcake. Cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and top with caramel-dipped hazelnuts just before serving.
Yummy Caramel Dipped Hazelnuts
24 hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
Gently insert pointed end of a long wooden skewer into the side of each hazelnut. Place a cutting board along the edge of a countertop; place newspaper on the floor, directly under cutting board.
Prepare an ice-water bath. Heat sugar and the water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Stop stirring; cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Continue to boil, gently swirling occasionally, until medium amber. Plunge pan into ice bath to stop the cooking; let stand until thickened, about 10 minutes. (To test: Dip a skewer in caramel and lift a few inches; if a thick drip slowly forms and holds a string, the caramel is ready.)
Dip a skewered hazelnut into caramel, letting excess drip back into pan. When dripping syrup becomes a thin string, secure opposite end of skewer under cutting board. Repeat with remaining hazelnuts. (If caramel hardens before all hazelnuts have been dipped, rewarm it over low heat.) Let stand until caramel string has hardened, about 5 minutes; break each string to desired length. Carefully remove skewers. Candied hazelnuts should be used the same day; store, uncovered, at room temperature until ready to serve cupcakes.
**recipe created from Martha Stewart.