According to wikipedia, “Gianduja (or gianduia) is a sweet chocolate containing about 30% hazelnut paste, invented…during Napoléon's regency (1796-1814).” Gianduia (pronounced john-DEW-ya) literally means “sweet nut.” Nutella, wildly popular first in Europe, now in America, evolved from gianduia and was originally called “Pasta Gianduja.” In today’s relaxed language, confections in any combination of nut, chocolate and sugar are loosely titled “gianduia.”
The challenge for the home cook in making chocolate hazelnut cupcakes is extracting hazelnut flavors. Spicesetc.com has the solution with its hazelnut flavoring, currently priced at $6.25 for 2 oz. plus shipping. There are additional sizes available, but, for the home cook, 2 oz. might be the wisest choice since Spices, etc. flavorings are only good for one year. If you sign up for the newsletter at the Spices, etc. website, you will receive an email when specials are offered, as I did when they recently offered free shipping on orders of any size.
I’ve made these cupcakes twice. The first time was without hazelnut flavoring, the second time was with it. There is just no flavor comparison. The hazelnut flavors in the second cupcake and frosting were superb and truly make this dessert stand out. My taste testers loved it, and I have to agree. You can use unbleached all-purpose flour and regular sour cream to get a richer, softer-textured cupcake, or you can get a sturdier cupcake with bread flour and nonfat Greek yogurt. Both ways produce a moist cupcake.
Instead of using Nutella for the filling, I used Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, but you may use any brand of chocolate hazelnut spread you prefer.
Gianduia (Chocolate Hazelnut) Cupcakes
Rating: 10 out of 10
Click for PRINTABLE PAGE
1 cup Gold Medal bread flour, whisked, then lightly spooned and leveled*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
1/3 cup chopped Ghiradelli 32% cacao Milk Chocolate bar – 4 squares, 1.75 oz.**
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Penzey’s natural hi-fat)
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. hot coffee (decaf is ok)
1/2 cup room-temperature nonfat plain Green yogurt, preferably Fage.***
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. Spices, etc. hazelnut flavoring
2 Tbsp. Frangelica or generic hazelnut liqueur
About 1/3 jar Jif Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (or Nutella) to fill cupcakes
One recipe Gianduia (Chocolate Hazelnut) Buttercream Frosting
Toasted chopped hazelnuts for garnish
*Bread flour makes a sturdier cupcake, but you may substitute unbleached all purpose flour if you prefer, for a slightly softer and lighter cupcake.
**You may substitute 1/3 cup good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, if desired.
***You may substitute regular sour cream for a richer, softer cupcake.
Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin and a 12-cup mini-muffin tin with paper liners. Spray inside of liners with nonstick cooking spray, if desired. Set oven rack to center position. Heat oven to 325F.
In medium bowl, sift together flour, soda and salt. In small bowl, stir together chocolate, cocoa and coffee till smooth. Set aside to cool. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, sugar, eggs, hazelnut flavoring and liqueur till smooth and well combined. Whisk in cooled coffee/chocolate mixture. Gently stir in flour mixture using spatula or spoon. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, using a scant tablespoonful for mini tins and about 3 Tbsp. each for standard tins. Bake standard cupcakes 15-17 minutes, minis 10-12 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool completely on wire rack.
Using a cupcake corer, remove center of cupcakes. (Cored pieces make great snacks with a dab of Jif and frosting.) Fill each cupcake with chocolate hazelnut spread. Frost with Gianduia Buttercream Frosting, or add about 1/2 tsp. hazelnut flavoring and 1 Tbsp. hazelnut liqueur to your favorite chocolate frosting. Sprinkle some toasted chopped hazelnuts over each cupcake, if desired.
TIP: The Cuisipro cupcake corer is available for about $5 online. I purchased through Amazon.com with other items that were eligible for free shipping and paid no shipping charges.