Two beguiling ingredients set out to collaborate for this month's edition of Cupcake Hero.
First, white chocolate, the theme ingredient. The most polarizing and perhaps least popular of chocolates. Some question its eligibility as a chocolate due to its lack of cocoa liquor. I prefer its liquor-laden brother any day of the week, but I'm an equal opportunity chocolate lover. However, many people won't touch the stuff. Oh well, more for me. Next up, hazelnut. A nut that has two first names. I find it's a natural companion to chocolate, and in many countries, you can't find chocolate without it. Can chocolate's nutty companion elevate white chocolate to the level of its brown brethren? We set to find out.
White chocolate can be overwhelming in large doses, so I keep the cupcake a plain hazelnut, made with hazelnut meal and a splash of Frangelico. This is filled with a light which chocolate mousse and toped with a thin layer of white chocolate ganache infused with frangelico for a little extra nuttiness. For decoration, a fringe of hazelnut prialine and a petit chapeau of a chocolate dipped hazelnut, disguised as his alter ego, the filbert.
Even my white chocolate hating spouse enjoyed these cupcakes, so I guess the hazelnut did the trick.
1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Frangelico
1 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 c milk
1/8 t cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350° F
Beat butter in an electric mixer until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and Frangelico; beat until combined.
In another bowl, combine flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder and salt.
Put the mixer on low speed and alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture until combined.
In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the batter.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full and bake 12 to 20 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
White Chocolate Mousse
adapted from Joy of Cooking
3 T water
3/4 t gelatin
8 oz white chocolate
1/2 c heavy cream
1 cup cold heavy cream
Combine water and gelatin in a small bowl and set aside to soften.
Chop chocolate very fine. Heat 1/2 c cream in a saucepan until it reaches a rolling boil. When hot, pour over the chocolate, whisking until all chocolate is melted. Stir in softened gelatin. Refrigerate the mixture until cold and thick enough to fall from a spoon in heavy, satiny ribbons, 15 to 45 minutes.
Beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the chocolate mixture and refrigerate at least 2 hours before filling cupcakes.
White Chocolate-Frangelico Ganache
Chop 6 oz white chocolate finely and heat over a double boiler. When melted, gradually whisk in 1/4 c cream and 1 tsp Frangelico. Allow to set up a but before dipping the cooled cupcakes.
Garnish as desired.