These have been in my mind for quite a while. I have been thinking about how Nutella might taste in the middle of a fairy cake and what would happen to its consistency. I can tell the seasons from a jar of Nutella. In the winter it is almost impossible to spoon out of the jar, the cold of the cupboard has set it hard. In the summer it becomes oily and hard to keep on the knife as it is lifted out of the jar.
Well, these little cakes were made when the Nutella is of perfect consistency, on a mild spring day, when the sky is an almost azure ( I am in England after all and we don’t often get an azure sky) and the temperature is that wonderful warm on your back but don’t reach for the sun screen warm. The Nutella stayed soft in the centre of the cakes making for a lovely bite of gooeyness. This also means that there is no need for frosting – perfect.
110g light soft brown sugar
110g softened butter
120g self raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
20g good quality cocoa
Nutella or hazelnut chocolate spread, about 6 teaspoons
Place all of the ingredients, except for the Nutella, in a large bowl and whisk well until all is combined.
Place a scant teaspoonful of the mixture into a fairy cake (mini muffin) case in a patty (mini muffin) tin. Place half a teaspoonful of Nutella on top. Cover with another scant teaspoonful of cake batter. Repeat with the remaining eleven.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the baking oven of the Aga for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch of a light finger.
I think I could benefit from a cupcake decorating course 🙂
I made these the other day to have in the park on the walk home from school to celebrate the change in the weather we seem to have had in the last week or so. Spring may actually have sprung. Of course, though, because we had planned a picnic the English weather let us know that we were fools and the sun didn’t peek out of the clouds once. It was a fairly cold picnic! Oh well, the cupcakes were good.
I made these in muffin tins so that they are a fair-sized cupcake. You don’t see fairy cakes about much these days. A fairy cake sized cake is sometimes exactly right to fill a hole. So feel free to make these smaller. If you are making them muffin sized they will make 12, so smaller might make 16- 20 I would say.
For the frosting
100g butter, softened
200g icing sugar
3 tsp cool strong coffee, made from 3 tsp of instant coffee dissolved in 4 tsps of just boiled water
2 tbsp double cream
Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 for about 4 minutes until they are lightly toasted. Be careful, they soon burn. Pour them onto a clean tea towel and rub gently. Most of the skins will come off, but leave some on as they add a good flavour. Turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4.
Put the hazelnuts into a food processor and whizz until they are large crumbs. This adds a nice crunchiness to the cupcake.
Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and whisk until fluffy and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well with each addition. Gently stir in the hazelnuts.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder over and fold in gently.
Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin cases in a muffin tin. They should be about three-quarters full. If you are using fairy cases then use a teaspoon to fill them three-quarters full.
Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 – 25 minutes for the muffin sized cakes or 10-15 minutes for the fairy cake size. They should look firm and feel springy to a gentle touch.
Leave them to cool in the tin for a minute or two and then lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter in a bowl until soft, add the icing sugar and stir in gently at first. If you beat it straight in you will end up with a fine layer of icing sugar dust all over the kitchen. When it is starting to clump together start to whisk it until it is fluffy. Add the coffee and beat again. Add the cream and beat until all is combined. Pipe over the cupcakes more artistically then I can manage.
The name for this cake could indeed have a double meaning. I get asked if we can make a chocolate cake at least once a week, and it is very often more regular than that. Well, the request was sounded at about 6.30 am on Sunday morning, something along the lines of ‘Can we make a chocolate cake that we can ice and decorate’. The request was, of course, answered with a bleary ‘Later, maybe’. Well, I am afraid my children are determined little creatures and so after a trip to the garden centre and before making sunday lunch for my parents and our neighbours, this chocolate cake was made and iced. It was then decorated after dinner and before pudding – very extravagantly I have to say, and there was no time to take pictures, it needed to be eaten. Needless to say it involved a lot of sugared orange and lemon slices, hundreds and thousands and silver balls.
Here is a slice I finished off about mid-morning today.
The recipe is based on Rachel Allen’s Italian Hazelnut Cake in her Bake book (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725970 0), with the added chocolate and the addition of ground almonds as I didn’t have 200g of hazelnuts in the house. Then it was iced with a fudge frosting, which is not entirely necessary but does make a very good addition.
If you use gluten-free baking powder, then this makes a delicious gluten-free cake.
For the cake:
100g whole shelled hazelnuts
100g almonds (ground or whole, depending on what you have available or go for 200g of hazelnuts should they be available to hand)
50g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 tsp baking powder
100g softened butter
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm springform tin. Preheat the oven to 170°c (gas mark 3) or use the baking oven of a 3 or 4 oven Aga.
Whizz the hazelnuts, almonds, baking powder and chocolate in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. Add the butter and pulse until just combined.
Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric whisk until the mixture has a mousse-like texture. Add the nut and chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl until they are stiff. Add one-third of the egg whites to the mixture and mix in well to loosen the mixture. Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in very gently to retain as much air as possible.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 45-60 minutes. I placed mine on the oven rack placed on the bottom rung of the baking oven of my Aga and it was cooked in 40 minutes, so do adjust according to your oven. The cake is cooked when it is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
Leave the cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then take the side off, leave for another 15 minutes and then remove the base and then leave to cool completely.
For the icing:
25g good quality dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
1 ½ tbsp milk
½ tbsp vanilla extract
Method Place all of the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently until melted and stir well to combine. Beat for a minute or two until cooled and spread onto the top of the cake.
Decorate, or not, to your heart’s desire.
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