Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Nutella Red Velvet Cupcakes & Love

Nutella Red Velvet Cupcakes 
With a hazelnut crunch! 

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder — I think you could add a dash more, depending on preference. 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt with a splash of lemon 
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 teaspoons cream of tartar* — I used milk and tartar) 
red food coloring, you will be using a lot to get that red velvet color! 
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract 
8 oz hazelnuts, ground but not in a powder (I actually used 9 oz) ... This is what gives it a Ferrero Rocher style crunch! 

How to blend milk and cream of tartar
Add tartar to the milk and let stand for 5 t0 10 minutes
Stir and see curdles 

Cream sugar and butter. Blend in eggs. Then blend in yogurt, buttermilk (or tartar mixture) and extracts.  Gradually mix in dry ingredients.  Slowly pour in hazelnuts. Now stir in food coloring until reaching desired color. Bake 18 -20 minutes at 350. Apply frosting and decorate

Nutella Buttercream

 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
 3 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar, sifted, regular won’t ruin it  
 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
 1 tablespoon almond extract
 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons milk.  The +2 tablespoons are ready to use only if the mixture needs thinning.
1/4 cup + 1 tbs nutella (or to taste!) 

Blend all ingredients until reaching a butter-y icing texture! 
I then decorated the cupcakes with a valentines theme, using pink, red and gold sprinkles. The gold sprinkles got a lot of buzz on instagram yesterday. I bought the sprinkles at Safeway in DC! I have also seen them at Associated Grocers food stores in the South. But, if you do not find them at your regular grocery, they are usually in stock at Hobby Lobby and often Target!  
I applied a half inch of icing to the cupcakes, even getting into the corners of my Valentine's wrappers, and then dipped the cupcake into a bowl of sprinkles ... Voila, more crunch!

A Little History of Love
Some Valentine's Facts 

So I like Valentine's Day ... but not for the romance. I never understood why some people pigeonhole Valentine's to equal romantic love. Which is why I love love LOVE the concept of Galentine's Day — celebrating your girlfriends and not concentrating on romances or lack of romances. Can't we all just enjoy the pink and red and share a cupcake with a friend ... Actually, get your own cupcake. This one's mine! 

Some people feel bitter because of this romantic aspect. And, I completely understand that. And these people, myself included, find this gimmick mean and based on selling crap on grocery store endcaps. So, let's cut through the garbage and look at some funny non-romantic Valentine's facts, as we consider all of the people we love, not just one of them. 

- In addition to keeping track of lovers, St. Valentine also is the saint of epilepsy and beekeepers ... Bee Mine? 
-  Chaucer may have invented the holiday, as no record of finding a mate on the day exists before his 14th Century poem
- There have been multiple St. Valentine's. Including a lady, St. Valentina! Her day is in July, so you can chose to celebrate on her day instead! 
- Apparently the idea of celebrating romantic love on Valentine's dates back to the 1840s ... But candy is a more recent edition to the holiday. Cadbury, the Easter guy, is also responsible for the heart shaped boxes. His Victorian invention of "eating chocolate" in heart-shaped boxes had a dual purpose, you could keep the box. They were durable, not the cardboard stuff we have today. And some collectors still seek them out! 
- "The National Retail Federation estimates that U.S. consumers will spend $18.6 billion on the holiday." - credit.  I think most would agree cookies and a paper heart would do! 

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