I seem to have developed a backlog of items I baked but have yet to write about. First, I tackled some coconut cupcakes (whose recipe is not mine to give, but I am including pictures anyway). Second, I finally took a stab at Pierre Hermé’s Korova Cookies, a sort of a French chocolate shortbread. Dorrie Greenspan calls them World Peace Cookies in her book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, but since it confuses me to have names that don’t describe the baked good itself, we’ll call them Chocolate Sablés. Third, because I was supposed to be at home all day yesterday packing my things to ready for this weekend’s move … I baked Nutella Cupcakes.
Because I did not create this recipe, I feel absolutely no shame in saying that the Chocolate Sablés are perhaps the most delicious chocolate cookie you will ever eat. They have an intense chocolate flavor due to the cocoa powder, augmented by the use of chopped bittersweet chocolate. Dorrie Greenspan notes in her book that the cookies are “salty,” but it’s hard to think of them that way when you’re eating them. They’re just a perfect chocolate cookie with the added complexity of the grainy, surprising, but entirely complimentary salt.
Note: I used fine sea salt because I lacked the mysterious fleur de sel, and I can’t even think of how they could improve using the original ingredient. Dorrie indicates in her book that this is a fine substitution – just reduce the salt to ¼ tsp rather than ½ tsp fleur de sel.
You can find the recipe (along with beautiful photos) here. Just remember when you're slicing the chilled dough that it will probably fall apart (it's supposed to do that) and that all you have to do is, for lack of a better word, squish the broken bits back together and all will be well once they've baked.
Lastly, I stumbled upon this “self-frosting” nutella cupcake recipe a few days ago and have been preoccupied with it ever since. I made a few slight changes to the recipe, as I thought it could do with the addition of instant espresso powder and an increase in vanilla. After all, any recipe with less than 1 tsp of vanilla extract makes me nervous.
The end product was not quite what I expected, mainly because the Nutella doesn't really seem very frosting-like at all (so the original "Self-Frosting" description misled me!). I liked them, but my only qualm was that the top half of the cupcake was much tastier than the bottom half – as the bottom half lacked nutella – and as a result, the experience was much more muffin-like than intended. However, the cupcake still tasted great, particularly when enjoyed with coffee.
Nutella Cupcakes Adapted from Baking Bites
10 tbsp (140 grams) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups (200 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp instant espresso powder
2 tsp baking powder
Nutella, approx. 1/3 cup
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until light, using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer. If using an electric mixer, beat for ~ 2 minutes.
3. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if the batter doesn’t look smooth.
4. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt.
6. Stir dry mixture into the wet mixture using a wooden spoon until batter is uniform and no flour remains.
7. Distribute the batter evenly between the 12 cups using two spoons.
[Note: the Baking Bites version of this recipe says each liner should be ¾ full, but I could only fill mine slightly more than ½.]
8. Top each cake with 1 ½ tsp Nutella. Swirl Nutella in with a toothpick, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the Nutella.
9. Bake for 20 minutes.
10. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
-- Makes 12 cupcakes --