Espresso Cupcakes with Hazelnut Cream

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Occasion:

Hubs and I recently moved to a new city so I could start my brand new job as an assistant professor. While the new job has been fantastic so far, we have both really been missing our friends and family back home. So when we heard that two of our very dear friends were coming to visit us for the weekend, we were ecstatic. As an added bonus, they have the most beautiful little baby girl who was making the trip with them. I’ve decided the best cure for a mild case of home-sickness is a weekend filled with the best of friends and time spent snuggling with a cooing, smiley, happy little peanut.

Their visit also coincided with both of their birthdays (very convenient, I might add!). I asked for ideas on what kind of birthday cake they’d like and got the request for coffee and/or chocolate. Since I have pretty serious coffee and chocolate addictions myself, this sounded like an excellent idea. I decided on a coffee flavored cupcake with just a hint of chocolate, a fluffy espresso frosting, a decadent hazelnut cream filling, and chocolate-covered coffee beans for an extra little punch of flavor.

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Cake:

1 1/8 c. cake flour
1 T. cocoa
4 T. softened butter
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 sour cream
3/8 c. very strongly-brewed espresso

  1. Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and the egg and again beat until fluffy. Mix in vanilla, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour and cocoa.
  3. Slowly add the flour mixture and sour cream to the butter mixture, alternating between each addition and mixing until just combined.
  4. Add espresso and mix until combined.
  5. Pour batter into lined cups about three quarters full (mine made 12).
  6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-22 minutes.

Recipe adapted slightly from a Martha Steward recipe in a cupcake cookbook.

Hazelnut Cream:

2 large egg yolks
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 c. cornstarch
pinch of salt
7/8 c. milk
2 T. hazelnut syrup (I used Torani syrup)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. whipped cream

  1. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Mix together milk and the hazelnut syrup and slowly add to the saucepan, stirring constantly.
  3. Cook until the mixture is thick and starting to bubble, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Temper the egg yolks by mixing in about 1/2 c. of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.
  5. Add the eggs to the saucepan. Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a full boil and is thick enough to hold it’s shape.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Strain through a fine sieve.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap (pressed right onto the surface of the cream) and store in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
  8. When completely chilled, whisk the cream until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream.

Adapted from the following: http://www.marthastewart.com/343796/pastry-cream

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Espresso Frosting:

1 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)
8 T. butter (room temperature)
4 T. chilled, strongly brewed espresso
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3 c. powdered sugar
Optional: brown gel food coloring

  1. Whisk together cream cheese and butter and beat until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.
  2. Alternately add in small amounts of the cold espresso and powdered sugar (about 1/4 cup at a time), whisking between each addition.
  3. Whisk in vanilla and brown food coloring, if desired.

I made this recipe up as I went, and I was pleased with how it turned out. It is very light and fluffy, with just the right amount of coffee flavor. It was a little soft, however, so I ended up chilling it a bit before piping it on the the cupcakes.

Assembly:

  1. Cool the cupcakes completely on a wire rack. When cool, core the cupcakes with a knife or corer.
  2. Fill each cupcake with the hazelnut cream, and replace the top of the cupcake core.
  3. Pipe chilled espresso frosting on top.
  4. Dust with cocoa and decorate with a few chocolate covered coffee beans. I used my favorite Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melting wafers to coat the beans. They are a little hard to find, so I always stock up whenever I see them in a store.
Just melt the chocolate, dip the beans, and cool on a sheet of waxed paper.
Just melt the chocolate, dip the beans, and cool on a sheet of waxed paper.
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All set to go!
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Cupcakes on their way, against the lovely Chicago skyline!
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