These cupcakes were meant to enter my life just when they did: when I most needed a dose of their creamy silky sweetness. I had just given birth to Abigail by c-section, I was sore, tired, shocked. Breastfeeding had reduced me to a puddle of tears, and eating just wasn’t on my radar.
When my wonderful friend Kate came to visit, as well as whole bag of gorgeous gifts for Abigail, she brought me a batch of these incredible cupcakes which she had made using a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. It was so thoughtful of her – they were just the remedy I needed. It may sound absurd but as the smooth whipped Nutella frosting melted on my tongue all that stress seemed to seep away. They rejuvenated me and I couldn’t wait to make them again.
So I put Nutella on my online shopping list, so that I would have it in the house when the urge struck (and the baby slept long enough) to make these again. And what would happen? I’d proceed to eat the tub of Nutella. So then I’d re-order a pot ‘for cupcakes’. Repeat a few times. A Nutella and bagel habit emerged and there were no cupcakes in sight!
That is, until my NCT friend, Lucie, gave birth to her second baby boy and I was coming to visit. I seized my chance. I knew what she must be going through and I hoped that these would do for her what they had done for me, so I set out to make them, once and for all.
I can’t really take any credit, because the recipe isn’t mine, but they are wonderful cupcakes. The cake itself is quite fudgy, and if you whip the frosting for long enough it becomes so light and airy – dreamy. You really need to use a stand or hand mixer for this job. The book suggests decorating them with hazelnuts, but I decorated mine with milk chocolate stars, chocolate shavings and baby blue edible shimmer powder for extra kitsch.
So here they are. If you have a friend who has just had a baby, make these for her. She’ll love you forever.
- 100g plain flour
- 20g cocoa powder
- 140g caster sugar
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 40g butter, room temperature
- 120ml whole milk
- 1 egg
- 120g hazelnut and chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
- 250g icing sugar, sifted
- 80g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 25mL whole milk
- 80g hazelnut and chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
- Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
- Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).
- Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- When the cupcakes are cold, hollow out a small section in the centre of each one and fill with a dollop of hazelnut and chocolate spread.
- Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Slowly pour in the milk, then when it is all incorporated turn the mixed up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.
- Stir in the hazelnut and chocolate spread by hand until evenly mixed into the frosting. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the frosting on top and decorate.