Saturday, June 15, 2013


hazelnut mini chcakes (2)

Mini desserts are popular, especially with the older folks who might just want a “taste” of something rather than a super-sized version.  This is my own recipe, and it was a big hit with my taste testers who said the mini cheesecakes were “to die for.”   The hazelnut flavor really comes through, thanks to hazelnut liqueur, hazelnut flavoring from Spices, etc., hazelnut paste and toasted hazelnuts.

The cooled cheesecakes are topped with Nutella.
hazelnut mini chcakes (3)

Then sweetened whipped cream is piped around the Nutella.  hazelnut mini chcakes

Hazelnut Mini Cheesecakes with Chocolate-Hazelnut Crust and Nutella Topping
Rating:  10 out of 10


CRUST: 1/2 cup hazelnut meal or almond meal (Bob’s Red Mill)
3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped hazelnuts or almonds
2 tsp. butter
2 Tbsp. hazelnut paste, purchased or homemade (recipe follows)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Pulse all ingredients in food processor to combine.  Press about 1/2 Tbsp. onto bottoms of 24 paper-lined mini muffin pan cups.  Refrigerate.

Hazelnut Paste – If you cannot find hazelnut paste, here is a recipe to make it:
1  cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. hazelnut liqueur
1 small to medium egg white

Heat oven to 350F.  Roast nuts 8-10 minutes till skins are dark brown and nuts are aromatic; immediately wrap nuts tightly in clean kitchen towel and place in warm place, such as your microwave oven, turned off, of course, 5-7 minutes to steam.  Rub nuts vigorously in the towel to remove as many of the skins as possible.  Transfer skinned nuts to quart-size plastic storage bag and pound with meat mallet till well crushed and pulverized.  (You can put the whole nuts right in your food processor, but crushing them first is easier on blades.)  Process crushed nuts in food processor till almost turned into hazelnut butter, scraping sides and bottom of work bowl as needed.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse till smooth and well combined.  Store in refrigerator up to two weeks.  Do not eat raw, use only in baked products.  Yield:  about 3/4 cup paste

8 oz. Philadelphia brand cream cheese, or Neufchatel cheese
1/4 cup hazelnut paste
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 large egg 
1/2 tsp. hazelnut flavoring (Spices, etc. online)
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. hazelnut liqueur
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Heat oven to 325F.  In work bowl of food processor, pulse cream cheese, hazelnut paste and sugar till smooth.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl; add egg, flavorings and liqueur and pulse till again smooth.  Add cream and pulse just till combined.  Spoon about 1 Tbsp. filling over each chilled crust.  Bake 15-17 minutes, or till cheesecake is just set.  Cool 5 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Nutella or Jif Chocolate-Hazelnut spread
Sweetened whipped cream

Spoon or pipe about 1 tsp. Nutella in the center of each cheesecake.  Pipe sweetened whip cream around edges.  Refrigerate.  Yield:  24 mini cheesecakes

Saturday, June 8, 2013


intense dark hazelnut heaven cupcakes (4)

No, these are not chocolate cupcakes.  Rather, they’re sumptuous vanilla cupcakes laced with a grated dark chocolate-hazelnut bar. 
intense dark hazelnut heaven cupcakes (3)
The frosting uses cocoa and the remaining chocolate bar.   You should get 18 moist, light and tender standard cupcakes (or 12 cupcakes plus 24 mini cupcakes) if you fill each well about 2/3 full.  For best results, measure carefully, use the proper ingredients and follow directions as written.
intense dark hazelnut heaven cupcakes

Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven Cupcakes with Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting
Rating:  9.5 out of 10


1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, whisked then lightly spooned and leveled
1 cup sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cool room temperature, pliable, cut into cubes
1/2 cup whole milk minus 1 Tbsp. + 1/4 cup whole milk minus 1-1/2 tsp., divided use
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. hazelnut flavor (I used Spices, etc., available online)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 (3.5 oz.) bar Ghiradelli Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven, grated, divided use

Line cupcake tins with paper liners.  Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Combine on stir speed about 30 seconds.  Add butter, 1/2 cup milk minus 1 Tbsp., vanilla and hazelnut flavorings.  Combine on stir speed, then beat on low 1-1/2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating each on low speed till combined.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with spatula.  Using stir speed, add remaining 1/4 cup minus 1-1/2 tsp. milk.  Beat 1 minute on low speed. 

Fill standard cups with 1-1/2 Tbsp. batter, then sprinkle with about 1 Tbsp. grated chocolate bar and top with 1-1/2 Tbsp. batter.  This should fill the cups to about 2/3 full.  For mini cupcakes, use 2 tsp. batter, 1 tsp. grated chocolate, 2 tsp. batter.  Bake standard cupcakes 15-18 minutes and minis 9-11 minutes, or till cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.  Cool cupcakes in tins 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool for at least one hour.  Yield:  18 standard cupcakes or 12 standard and 24 mini cupcakes

Remaining grated chocolate hazelnut bar
1 cup + 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, divided use
3 Tbsp. unsweetened natural cocoa
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cool room temperature, pliable
1/8 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
3-4 Tbsp. whole milk or cream
1 Tbsp. hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelica
1/2 tsp. hazelnut flavor

Microwave remaining chocolate bar in small microwaveable bowl on high in 25-second increments until just melted.  Stir, set aside.  Sift together into small bowl or onto wax paper 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and cocoa; set aside.

Cream butter and salt on medium speed of electric mixer.  Gradually add remaining 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, beating until smooth after each addition.  Combine milk (or cream), liqueur and hazelnut flavor in small cup.  Alternately add milk mixture and cocoa-sugar mixture to the creamed butter mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.   On low speed, beat in the melted chocolate hazelnut bar.  Frost cupcakes as desired with this delicious but very rich frosting.