It’s just another chocolately morning at Casa Curls and Carrots – including two cocoa-covered kinder.
For days, my daughter (“a.ka. Snoo Magoo,” as her father calls her) has been asking – no, begging – to make chocolate cupcakes. This morning, she repeated her request, asking “Can we please make chocolate cupcakes and hot cocoa?” I thought for a minute and quickly decided that we would do just that in one fell swoop. Friends, introducing hot cocoa caramel cupcakes with chocolate hazelnut icing.
There was one little hiccup during the baking session: “I don’t like coffee in my cupcakes!” exclaimed Snoo Magoo. “You won’t taste it,” I assured her. “The coffee simply brings out the chocolate flavor.” Snoo Magoo replied skeptically, “I’ll see about that! I’ll see about your recipe.” Three-years-old and already a food critic.
This recipe received a seal of approval from both Snoo Magoo and “Littlest Guy,” as his sister calls him. The hubbie (affectionately called “Abba Goose” by Snoo Magoo) rarely remembers to pack a lunch for the hospital. Who would if their alarm went off at 4:45 AM? Well, this morning Abba Goose packed lunch: cupcakes. I will take this as an additional endorsement.
Let’s make some cupcakes, shall we?
The kids are still in their PJ’s – there’s no time to get dressed – they’re too excited to bake!
First, we cream the butter, sugar and yogurt.
Then, each egg is mixed in, one at a time…
And the batter becomes a golden, glistening shade of yellow.
The unsweetened cocoa and salted caramel hot cocoa are added to the batter.
Now this is starting to look like a chocolate recipe!
The flour and remaining dry ingredients are mixed in, a little at a time.
Finally, the crowning glory is added: the flour dusted dark chocolate chips!
The kids are clearly interested at this point. They inherited their parents acute – not to mention chronic – chocoholicism. Don’t laugh – it’s a real, serious disease.
All done! Upon tasting the batter, Snoo Maggo pipes up “More chocolate so it tastes really, really good.”
The sugar rush must have set in. “Look at my funny face,” says Snoo Magoo, followed by a cute quip of “Too much fun! Calling the Po-yeece.” (i.e. Police, but the “l” sounds is not quite there).
Yes, Snoo Magoo may be three-years-old, but she is an excellent dishwasher! I could not be prouder (or luckier!).
Using an ice-cream scoop to ensure even distribution, the cupcake batter is placed in thirteen muffin cups. They are ready to go in the oven.
Littlest Guy foils the even distribution theory. That sneaky munchkin hones in on the glistening chocolate batter and makes his move.
“Who, me?” The evidence of the crime is written – and smeared – all over his face!
Snoo Magoo whisks the vanilla, coffee, Nutella and Mascarpone cheese. She samples the icing and proclaims “It needs Manchego cheese. I love Manchego cheese.” A cheese head and lover of all things fromage like her mother, for sure.
We use up all the Nutella. Snoo Magoo is visibly upset. “How will I make a chocolate sandwich for school tomorrow?” “If wishes were fishes,” I think. On a side note, we abstain from adding Manchego to the icing – a good move.
The gleaming, mocha-colored icing looks delectable, rich and decadent. Littlest Guy helps himself to a sample. Chocolate is never safe at Casa Curls and Carrots.
The cupcakes come out of the oven and cool. MMM, the crackly, fudgy tops are reminiscent of brownies. Like brownies, these cupcakes are incredibly moist!
The two little ones help me decorate the cupcakes. We use a homemade piping bag (a plastic sandwich bag bag), along with a simple butter knife, to spread the icing.
Not too shabby. The kids had a blast icing the cupcakes and proceed to decorate them with dark chocolate chips.
Of course, Littlest Guy eats at least half of the dark chocolate chips. Snoo Magoo is his accomplice; she even feed her partner in crime the goods! They put on their most innocent, cute faces when I notice all the chocolate chips have disappeared.
It’s time for the adult to have a cupcake. Littlest Guy lurks near by, waiting to make his move. Using a chair, he attempts to climb onto the tablet to nab the cupcake. Nothing gets between this munchkin and his chocolate!
No worries here – I feel so much better about my kids eating our homemade treats than purchased ones. When it comes to our pastry recipes, texture and taste meet health. I have found that “light” recipes often compensate for fat by adding extra sugar. Sounds like a recipe for diabetes, err disaster, to me. Not here!
This recipe has half the sugar of most light recipes – and half the fat, thanks to the god that is Greek yogurt. As for the egg substitute found in many light recipes – none of that here. Abba Goose raises free-range chickens – and their eggs have healthy fats. The icing is also sneakily lightened-up: mascarpone is used instead of butter: it has half the calories and fat and twice the flavor. No extra sugar needed: Nutella is sweet enough – plus it boasts cocoa, nuts and skim milk.
Let’s make some cupcakes. Littlest Guy is happy to lick the bowl for you.
Hot Cocoa Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Icing
Mr. Brownie meets Ms. Carmel Hot Cocoa, and the rest is history.
Ingredients for the cupcakes:
1/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup 0% Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. good quality, pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. strong coffee, cooled
4 fresh eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup good quality, unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger)
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour (divided) (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 tsp. fine salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, 60% cocoa or higher (such as Ghiradelli)
canola oil cooking spray
13 muffin cups
Ingredients for the icing:
4 ounces Mascarpone cheese, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, softened at room temperature (I used Nutella)
1 tsp. good quality, pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. strong coffee, cooled
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips for decorating cupcakes (optional)
1.) Preheat oven to 350°F or 177°F. In two muffin pans, line the thirteen muffin cups. Spray muffin cups and tops of pans with cooking spray.
2.) On medium-speed, use a standing mixer (or using an electric mixer) to whisk the butter, yogurt and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and coffee. Then, add the eggs one at a time, until combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixer.
3.) On low-speed, add the hot cocoa mix and cocoa powder. When incorporated, mix in 1/3 cup of flour and all of the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly a the remaining 2/3 cups of flour until incorporated. Scrape down sides of mixer.
4.) In a small bowl, mix the chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of flour. This will help suspend the chocolate chips evenly in the cupcakes and prevent them from sinking to the bottom. On medium-low speed, add the chocolate chips to the batter and mix just until combined.
5.) Using an ice-cream scoop, place one scoop of batter into each of the muffin cups. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Removed cupcakes from pans and allow to cook completely on wire racks.
6.) In a small bowl, whisk the Mascarpone, Nutella, vanilla and coffee until smooth and combined. Spread over cool cupcakes or pipe using a ziplock or pastry bag. Sprinkle additional dark chocolate chips over cupcakes, if desired.*
*Free labor tip: kids enjoy piping the icing and sprinkling the chocolate chips.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.
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