Hazelnut Cupcakes with Chocolate ­Hazelnut Frosting

When I received a review copy of the new book Quick-Shop-&-Prep 5 Ingredient Baking: Cookies, Cakes, Bars & More that are Easier than Ever to MakeI instantly loved the idea. Basically, it's a collection of awesome recipes that utilize common pantry items. So it doesn't really require a lot of weird or hard to source ingredients.

One of the recipes that caught my eye right away was this one, for hazelnut cupcakes with chocolate hazelnut frosting. Like, what more could you possibly ask for? These cupcakes are simple to make, but fancy in end product. 

If you like 'em, check out the book! It was written by Jennifer McHenry, author of the Bake or Break blog!

Hazelnut Cupcakes with Chocolate ­Hazelnut Frosting

The combination of chocolate and hazelnut is nothing short of fantastic. From my first bite of chocolate­ hazelnut spread, I designated a permanent spot in my pantry for at least one jar. Here, that delicious spread stars in a sweet, creamy frosting that tops off simple cupcakes filled with toasted hazelnuts.

Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1⁄2 cups (300 g) unbleached all­purpose flour 11⁄2 tsp (7.5 g) baking powder
1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1⁄2 tsp salt
3⁄4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1⁄2 cups (300 g) firmly packed light brown sugar 3 large eggs
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
1 cup (120 g) hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

FOR THE CHOCOLATE­HAZELNUT FROSTING 8 oz (227 g) cream cheese, softened
1⁄2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup (140 g) chocolate­hazelnut spread

2 1⁄2 cups (275 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180C). Grease 24 standard muffin cups.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add about a third of the flour mixture, and mix until a few streaks of flour remain. Mix in about half of the buttermilk. Add the remaining flour mixture in 2 portions, alternating with the remaining portion of buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Stir in the hazelnuts.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about half full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter and chocolate­ hazelnut spread until blended and smooth. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, and mix until smooth. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

Tip: To toast hazelnuts, place them in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. If the hazelnuts have skins on them, place the toasted nuts on a kitchen towel and rub them with the towel to remove the skins easily. 

Recipe reprinted from Quick-Shop-&-Prep 5 Ingredient Baking: Cookies, Cakes, Bars & More that are Easier than Ever to Make with permission from the author.

A Simple Way to Dress up a Plain Yellow Cake

So, I recently wrote about how to make an egg-free vanilla cake for Craftsy. This is a useful thing to have on hand, because you never know when you'll start baking only to find that you have no eggs--or, it's good to be prepared in the event someone can't consume eggs. 

But the egg-free cake isn't necessarily what I want to tell you about today. I want to tell you about what I did after I completed baking it.

Actually, the process started while the cake was still baking. I thought: "I know what to do with this cake. I am going to make it a dulce de leche poke cake."

I happened to have a 14-ounce can of dulce de leche I'd found in the International Aisle at the grocery store in my cabinet. I cracked it open and poured it into a pan, reserving a small spoonful for myself, for SNACKING.

Then I added about 1/2 cup of whole milk and a pinch of salt.

I heated the mixture on low, and added a little more milk (sorry, I didn't measure) to give the mixture a thick but pourable consistency (you can kind of play it by ear). I didn't let it boil, just warmed it enough so that the mixture was smooth and combined. 

Around then, the cake was done.

Here's what I did then. First, I poked the cake all over. 


Then I poured the silky dulce de leche mixture on top.


It was thick on top at first but then it gradually soaked and settled into the cake, leaving a glaze-like finish on top but a full, saturated texture inside of the cake.

It was beautiful to watch.

I finished it with some toasted pecans and some sea salt.

And it was heaven. 

So, I suppose the point of this blog post is to tell you that if you ever need inspiration for how to gussy up a yellow cake (egg-free or no), please do this. Just heat up some dulce de leche with enough milk to thin it, then pour it over the cake which you've poked with the tines of a fork or a skewer. Then enjoy.

I would cue the "the more you know" music here, but I will have to settle for an image I found from the web:

Enjoy this inspiring idea! 

Cookie-Pie With Three Types of Chocolate

This was a mistake. It was supposed to be scones. But as you can see, this is not scones. It is a cookie-pie topped with three types of chocolate. 

Let me explain. I was working on the recipe for chocolate cranberry scones that I published a while back, but on my way, I had some recipes that didn't work out. Well, this recipe didn't work out as scones, but it  came out as some non-scone thing that was highly delicious.

Working to try and transform a cookie mix into scones wasn't extremely easy, as it turned out. At first, I started with traditional scone-making methods: working cold butter into the dry mixture, making a well and adding cream, et cetera. Unfortunately, when using a cookie mix instead of flour as the base, these traditional scone-making methods left me with a batter that was too gooey to be shaped into a traditional circle for scones.

So I decided to transfer the mixture to a pie plate, and baked it up.

Ooh. Definitely not scones, but I was intrigued.

I decided to make it even better by adding some chocolate ganache on top.

Then I decided to drizzle it with some white chocolate cream.

And then (why not) I drizzled it with some semisweet chocolate. 

It came out like some work of abstract pie art. Oooh, ooh, ooh. 

And it tasted AWESOME. Like a wedge of soft chocolate chip cookie studded with cranberries, and saturated in chocolate. I mean, AWESOME.

Since I had made the chocolate sauce more on the liquid side, It really seeped into the cookie mixture, and when sliced, it looked like this. 

It would be a great idea to make this recipe, which was a mistake that turned out to be quite serendipitous and delicious.

Cookie-Pie with Three Types of Chocolate

Printable version here

  • 1 pouch (13.8 ounces) Phil-em up Cookie Mix by Among Friends Baking Mixes
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 egg
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

To top:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

To further top:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

To yet further top:

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted 

Make it:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the cookie mix and butter. Use a pastry cutter to combine, until the butter is no larger than the size of small peas.

In a separate small bowl (I used my measuring cup), whisk together the cream, egg, salt, and vanilla.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and stir to combine.

Transfer the mixture into a pie plate, and bake for 18-25 minutes, or until golden to your liking.

Make the first chocolate topping. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the milk to simmer, then pour over the chocolate. Stir until combined. Pour over the cookie-pie. It will begin to seep into it after a minute. Pour gradually if it doesn't seem to be absorbing quickly.

Make the white chocolate topping, following the same steps as you just did for the dark chocolate. Pour right over the chocolate on the cookie-pie.  

Let the pie set in the fridge for several hours. Finish by drizzling with the final topping, the melted chocolate.

Have you ever had a happy accident while baking?

What Happens Wednesday: Little Debbie Edition

Sensitive readers, avert your eyes. Because this #whathappenswednesday focuses on abuse. The abuse of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.

Longtime readers may remember this "Little Debbie Death Match", which poses the question "what happens when you torture Little Debbie cakes to see which one survives the longest?". These snack cakes are run over by cars, boiled in water, and put through other horrifying tests.

New readers, enjoy my twisted brain.

Read the entire experiment here!

Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Cream Pie With White Chocolate Ganache

I am pretty proud of this pie, friends. I mean, just look at the thing.

So, let me tell you the story of this pie. Yes?

It actually goes back about 4 years ago, when I was prone to saying "I don't like yogurt", as frequently as someone seemed to be listening. It was a texture thing. It was like...snotty-texture. But then someone introduced me to Greek yogurt. Thick and creamy, I knew that I had found my yogurt match. This was not snotty in texture, and it wasn't wimpy in flavor. I still don't like regular yogurt, but I love Greek yogurt. 

More recently, Greek Gods (actually, theirs was the aforementioned first Greek yogurt I ever tasted!) contacted me and asked me if I'd like to come up with a pie recipe for their holiday promotion. I was all like, where do I sign "YES"? 

My one condition with being part of this project, though, was that it had to be an indulgent pie. Because while I love Greek yogurt, all on its own, I do not consider it dessert. So I had to add enough other good stuff that it could definitely fall into dessert territory.

Because of the season, I wanted to make a pumpkin pie; because I enjoy sweetness and deliciousness, I decided to make it a pumpkin cream pie, with that earthy gourd augmented with Greek yogurt and sweetened condensed milk. Some spices for flavor, and some eggs for structure, and the filling was set.

But it kind of felt like it still needed something. 

The answer was a white chocolate ganache "sauce"--made with a little more cream than usual, and a little less chocolate. This made for an oozy texture which drips slightly when each slice is cut into. 

And seriously, what is pumpkin pie without some whipped cream? I finished mine with freshly whipped cream and some toasted pecans. Yes, that works. That works just fine.

People, this pie was an absolute, 100 percent winner. You definitely taste the pumpkin and spice, but there is so much dreamy creaminess that you're like "whoa, this is definitely dessert." The ganache sauce gives it a little special sweet hint, and the whipped cream and toasted pecans offer a pleasing texture and flavor contrast. 

I love this pie, so did Olive the pug (see below)and I think you will, too. Thanks, Greek Gods, for sponsoring this post!

Greek gods pumpkin cream pie

printable version here

For the pie

  • 1 unbaked, 9-inch pie crust
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 8 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup Greek Gods Honey Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

For the white chocolate ganache sauce

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

To top

  • 1 cup freshly whipped cream
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Prep time: 30 minutes

Bake time: 45 minutes, plus cooling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. You can keep your ready to go pie crust in the fridge for the moment.

Make the filling. In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients. Yup, all of them at once.  Mix until it has become smooth and lump-free. You can use a stand mixer for this, or stir by hand.

Go ahead and fetch that pie shell. Pour the mixture into your pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes in the 425 degree oven, then reduce heat to 350, and bake for 40 minutes or until set. If there is some light cracking on top when the pie comes out, this is OK.

Let the pie cool completely to room temperature. Once it is room temperature, you can refrigerate for about an hour. You want the top to be cool when you pour the ganache sauce on top.

Make the ganache sauce. Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over the white chocolate. Mix until completely combined. Let the mixture set for about 30 minutes. It will thicken, but it won’t become thick like a ganache. This was purposefully left thinner so that it will ooze a little bit when served. Pour the sauce on top of the finished pie. Refrigerate again until it sets a bit.


Make the whipped cream, and spread gently on top of the pie. Sprinkle the toasted pecans on top.

Keep this pie in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The white chocolate will slightly drip down the sides once served.

Have you ever baked with Greek yogurt?