Oh man. I have done it this time. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it…these are the best cupcakes I have ever made. Yep, I said it. Sweet, but not too sweet. Complex in the greatest way…grown-up dates mixed with kid-friendly Nutella. Plus a homemade Nutella mixture of sorts…cocoa and toasted hazelnuts. Woah.
After baking these, I have a new theory. Feed people these, and you would get world peace. Now if only they would ship well.
These cupcakes really do have great ingredients. Dates are super healthy. Hazelnuts are too…they are an excellent source of good fats and protein. Skim milk? Yep, that’s in there too.
In fact, it is also what is not in these cupcakes that makes them special. No oil. Only 2 tablespoons of butter (whaaaaat).
Let’s just say that if you make the mini-cupcake version and use Splenda, the calorie count in these babies comes in well below 100. Score.
The recipe calls for Medjool dates, which are known for their large size and sweet taste. You can get other types of dates, perhaps for a lower price, but I recommend springing for the Medjool variety if you can get your hands on them. I get mine at The Fresh Market…I am certain they are available at Whole Foods, and you can probably find them in most grocery stores.
And, of course, the recipe calls for Nutella. Oh my do I love Nutella. In college, I would eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. It is pure danger.
Don’t let anyone convince you that Nutella is a health food…despite the ridiculous commercial, all you have to do is read the ingredient list to see that Nutella ain’t health food…the first ingredient is sugar! BUT there really isn’t all that much Nutella in this recipe.
And, what is more important is that the recipe calls for dry roasted hazelnuts, which I consider a bona fide health food (in moderation, as we should eat all nuts).
Nutella-Date Pudding Cupcakes, or World Peace Cupcakes (for a printer-friendly version, see below)
Adapted from The Leftover Queen
My Rating: * * * * *
Hubby’s Rating: * * * *
Yield: 48 mini cupcakes (probably about 18 regular cupcakes)
For the cupcakes:
1 cup hazelnuts
6 ounces Medjool dates (about 12 or so), halved, pitted, and coarsely chopped
½ cup milk (I used skim with great success, but you can use any fat content)
5 ounces Nutella
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup sugar or Splenda (I used Splenda to cut the calories and the cupcakes were still delicious)
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup heavy cream
For the buttercream:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ tablespoons Nutella
2 tablespoons milk (again, I used skim and it worked beautifully)
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For a topping:
24 dark chocolate covered peanuts/hazelnuts OR toasted hazelnuts (see method above), with skin removed
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, placing a rack in the center of the oven. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven, 10-15 minutes, until hazelnuts are golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Line a 24-cup mini-cupcake pan with paper liners. If you do not have a mini cupcake pan, I think this batter will yield about 18 regular cupcakes.
Meanwhile, place chopped dates in a food processor. Then, in a small saucepan, bring milk just to a boil. Immediately pour milk over the chopped dates and process, 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is a smooth paste. Warning: if you love dates, this paste will be delicious. You will need it later, so don’t eat it now.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl, if using a hand mixer), combine eggs, Splenda/sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. When well-combined, beat in the Nutella, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in ¼ increments, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. When the dry ingredients are incorporated, increase your mixer speed to medium and beat in the date puree, followed by the cream.
By this time, your hazelnuts should be cool. Remove the dark brown skin surrounding the hazelnuts (it should fall off easily). Clean and dry your food processor thoroughly, and place the skinned hazelnuts in the processor. Process for a minute or two until the hazelnuts are finely ground. Add the ground hazelnuts to the batter and beat until well incorporated.
Using a teaspoon, place the batter into the cupcake liners. Fill the cups about ¾ full with batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan mid-way through, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean or almost clean. Cool on a rack completely before icing.
To prepare the buttercream, in the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a medium bowl, if using a hand mixer), combine all ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes light and fluffy and forms a spreadable consistency. If your buttercream is too thick, add milk in very small increments. If it is too thin, add Nutella in small increments.
Spread buttercream on cupcakes with a small knife. If you want to pipe on a lot of icing, double the buttercream recipe.
Top iced cupcakes with a chocolate-covered peanut/hazelnut or a toasted hazelnut.
The cupcakes will keep, at room temperature in an airtight container, for about 3 days.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here: Nutella Date Pudding Cupcakes