This is how it usually goes down in our house:
I spend hours slaving over a hot kitchen aid, whipping up cupcakes with mounds of beautiful buttercream, sprinkles, fondant flowers, the works. Taylor gets his hands on one, and proceeds to push 2/3 of the frosting (oh the beautiful swirl of frosting!) onto the side of the plate before eating the cupcake. All this effort I put in to the frosting, I may as well leave half the batch unfrosted for him, or heck, just make muffins (boo).
We would have gotten along well as children. I would yearn for the coveted corner piece of the grocery store sheet cake every time one of my classmates had a birthday. The corner piece was obviously the best, because it had twice as much frosting as all the other pieces.
If I had known Taylor, it wouldn’t have been an issue. He’d give me his frosting, I’d give him my cake. It’d be a match made in sugary heaven.
And it wouldn’t stop at just cake. Take corn dogs, for example. I loved corn dogs when I was little, but only the corn part. I’d eat the whole outer coating off of the dog and ceremoniously pass it to my dad when I was done. Taylor, on the other hand (if given no other choice), would peel every last spec of batter off before eating it.
I mean, seriously. How perfect would we have been for each other? (and I’m sure my Dad would have appreciated not having to eat so many mutilated corn dogs).
But these cupcakes were different.
I watched in awe as Taylor practically licked the cupcake clean of frosting. No mound on the side. He ate every last bit (though, I do admit he pulled off the heart sprinkles prior to doing so).
That’s how I know I’ve done good. I’ve done real good.
The frosting is not, in fact, new. You’ve seen it before layered so beautifully inside this cake. Yes, I’m talking about the Tiramisu Buttercream. It’s a basic swiss meringue buttercream with a splash of coffee, and the final result is so unbelievably smooth and buttery and not overly sweet like the typical American-style buttercream. It is SO worth the extra effort.
The cake itself is almost identical to almond-based cupcakes I’ve made before, except I substituted finely ground toasted hazelnuts for the almond. And it surprised me how distinct the hazelnut flavor was, I didn’t expect it. A good pairing with the coffee buttercream.
The perfect treat for your one true love.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon warm water
- 1/2 tablespoon instant coffee
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine soymilk and vinegar and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes. Mixture will curdle.
- Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan over low heat until one shade darker and fragrant (watch them carefully or they will burn). Remove skins if desired (or if you can). Transfer to a food processor and pulse until very finely ground.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Whisk sugar, oil, and extract into curdled soymilk mixture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- To make buttercream, combine the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk on high speed until mixture is completely cooled and stiff peaks form, about 6 minutes. Add butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, on low speed, mixing well after each addition. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
- Stir instant coffee into warm water until dissolved. Add, 1 teaspoon at a time, to buttercream, mixing well after each addition. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.