These hazelnut chocolate cupcakes taste like Nutella in cupcake form. The chocolate cupcakes are moist and super chocolatey, stuffed with a centre of hazelnut praline paste. The hazelnut buttercream frosting is fluffy and has the most amazing hazelnut flavour. And together, they create a flavour explosion – that also happens to be gluten free!
Remember the hazelnut praline paste we talked about last week? Well, we’ll be putting it to excellent use in these hazelnut chocolate cupcakes.
You should know that I’m a big fan of desserts that taste like Nutella – like, for example, my hazelnut milk chocolate chip cookies (which are SO GOOD). Hazelnuts and chocolate is hands down one of my favourite flavour combinations, and if you’re the same, then you’ll LOVE these cupcakes.
There are four parts to this deliciousness: the moist and super chocolatey cupcakes, the centre of hazelnut praline paste, the hazelnut buttercream frosting and a finishing touch of chocolate shavings. Each of these parts tastes amazing on its own, but when you put them together – fireworks.
Before we get to the bits and bobs of making these wonderful cupcakes – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
What makes these hazelnut chocolate cupcakes so amazing?
1. The moist chocolate cupcakes. These are a play on the chocolate cupcakes I’ve used previously in the s’mores cupcakes, raspberry brownie cupcakes and peanut butter chocolate cupcakes recipes, with ground hazelnuts replacing the almond flour in the batter. These aren’t your usual light and fluffy cupcakes. Instead, they’re moist, intensely chocolatey, with a soft and tender crumb.
2. The hazelnut praline paste. You know I love stuffing cupcakes – be it with chocolate fudge sauce in my triple chocolate cupcakes or with lemon curd in my lemon poppy seed cupcakes. There’s just something extra special about biting into a cupcake and encountering the most delicious surprise… in this case, in the form of a luxurious hazelnut praline paste, which pairs wonderfully with the chocolate cupcakes.
3. The fluffy hazelnut buttercream. There’s nothing complicated about this frosting. It’s a standard fluffy American buttercream with a generous dose of the hazelnut praline paste added into it. And the result, for all its simplicity, is mouth-watering. (If you’re not a fan of American buttercream, you can easily make a base Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream, and add the hazelnut praline paste to that.)
4. They’re gluten free! That’s right: these beauties are gluten free, and you couldn’t possibly guess it.
5. They’re super easy to make. The cupcakes are prepared in no time, the buttercream whips up incredibly easily, and assembling the cupcakes is as easy as it is fun.
6. They taste like Nutella in cupcake form. Need I say more??
7. They’re drop dead gorgeous. I mean, just look at them!!
How do you make hazelnut buttercream frosting?
Making the hazelnut buttercream frosting truly couldn’t be easier. The base is a standard American buttercream, prepared by whipping softened unsalted butter and powdered/icing sugar until light and fluffy.
Then, add a generous amount of hazelnut praline paste and mix it in until fully incorporated. And that’s all there is to it.
Assembling the cupcakes
Assembling the cupcakes is (aside from eating them, of course) my favourite part.
First, create a hole in the middle of each (cooled) cupcake, with an apple corer or a piping nozzle turned upside-down.
Then, fill each hole with hazelnut praline paste.
Next, pipe the hazelnut buttercream frosting on top – I used Wilton 1M nozzle for this, but you can use any piping nozzle you like. As a finishing touch, decorate the cupcakes with chocolate shavings or sprinkles. And that’s it!
I hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as I do. They’re decadent and flavourful, gorgeous to look at and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
If you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!
Hazelnut Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free)
- 1 quantity/recipe of hazelnut praline paste (Find the recipe here. You will need approximately the whole quantity made by the recipe to fill and frost 12 cupcakes.)
For chocolate cupcakes:
- 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 150 g (1 ⅓ sticks) unsalted butter
- 15 g (⅛ cup) Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 150 g (¾ cup) caster/superfine sugar
- 3 UK medium/US large eggs, room temperature
- 65 g (½ cup + ½ tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Farm Freee plain gluten free flour blend, which doesn't contain xanthan gum. You can also mix your own blend with 50% white rice flour, 30% potato starch and 20% maize flour by weight.)
- 32 g (⅓ cup) ground hazelnuts
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (Omit if your GF flour blend already contains xanthan.)
- ½ tsp salt
- 90 g (3/8 cup) hot water
For hazelnut buttercream frosting:
- 340 g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 270 g (2 ¼ cups) powdered/icing sugar (You can use up to a total of 360g/3 cups of powdered sugar, but that will give a very sweet frosting - remember that you'll be adding the hazelnut praline paste as well!)
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- ⅓-½ cup hazelnut praline paste (Find the recipe here. ⅓ cup will give a very stable frosting with a less intense hazelnut flavour. ½ cup will give a slightly softer frosting with a much more intense flavour.)
For chocolate cupcakes:
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 320ºF (160ºC) and line a 12-hole cupcake/muffin baking tin with cupcake liners.
- In a heat-proof bowl above a pot of simmering water, melt together the chocolate and butter.
- Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool until warm. Then, mix in the cocoa powder and sugar.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition.
- Sift together the gluten free flour blend, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt, and add them to the wet ingredients. Mix well until combined.
- Add the hot water to the cupcake batter, and whisk well until you get a smooth, glossy batter.
- Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcakes, so that each cupcake liner is about ¾ full.
- Bake at 320ºF (160ºC) for about 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
- Remove the cupcakes from the cupcake tin, and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.
For hazelnut buttercream frosting:
- In a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer with the double beaters attachment, beat the butter for 2 - 3 minutes, until pale and fluffy.
- Add the powdered/icing sugar, and beat for a further 5 - 7 minutes, until very pale and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and the hazelnut praline paste, and mix until only just incorporated.
- Set aside until needed.
Assembling the cupcakes:
- Use an apple corer or a piping nozzle, turned upside down, to create a hole in the middle of each cupcake. Fill it with about 1 teaspoon of the hazelnut praline paste.
- Pipe the hazelnut buttercream frosting on top of the filled cupcakes with a piping nozzle of your choice (I used a Wilton 1M nozzle).
- Sprinkle with chocolate shavings or sprinkles, and serve.
- The hazelnut chocolate cupcakes keep well in a closed container in a cool dry place for about 3 - 4 days.