Last year, I remember drooling over cupcake entries from previous Ice Cream Cupcake Contests, but until now, I never expected to join the competition as well.
Maybe it’s the cookbook prize that lured me in.
Even before this year’s contest was announced on both Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious, I was already coming up with different ideas involving ice cream. I wanted to pair the ice cream with a cake, so this creation is what I envisioned, in cupcake form.
I love hazelnuts, I love honey, and I love chocolate. Eaten combined, separately, or otherwise, these ingredients are definitely on my list of favorites. Naturally, I decided to go with a honey hazelnut cupcake with gianduja gelato and chocolate honey ganache frosting. What I like is that each ingredient has its own spotlight.
Ice Cream: Gianduja gelato
As I hinted in a previous post, here’s the gianduja in the gelato! This is a creamy gelato with hazelnut blended with milk chocolate. Although I prefer dark chocolate anytime, the milk chocolate worked really well in bringing out the hazelnut flavor and giving it an overall great taste. (I did add a bit of semisweet chocolate, just to get the right amount of chocolate needed.) David Lebovitz is right when he said that ice cream tastes best when scooped up from the ice cream maker the moment it is made. This gelato tastes exactly like the super-expensive gelato you can buy in an ice cream store. (Nah, it is even better.) There’s something special about making your own ice cream and learning from the process. It was, indeed, a chaotic experience. When I was in the middle of toasting the hazelnuts, I realized that I did not shell them beforehand. After a hazelnut-cracking fiasco, a heavy cream shortage, and a strainer disaster I was glad that it turned out to be perfect. There’s so much work that you have to put in for one moment of pure ice cream bliss, but as it turns out, it’s hard to screw up a good gianduja gelato.
Cupcake: Honey Hazelnut Cake
Back when I was making homemade crème fraiche, I found on Flickr a picture of a honey hazelnut cupcake topped with chocolate crème fraiche frosting. I thought that the honey would disappear from the cake after baking, but it didn’t. The pleasantly sweet honey flavor combined with the fragrant hazelnuts make a good combination. Like Chocolate & Zucchini advised, I toasted the hazelnuts. If I were to make it again, I would either whip the egg whites and add them to the batter at the end or use one teaspoon less baking powder.
Frosting: Chocolate Honey Ganache
I didn’t think that I needed to make a frosting, but I made it anyway, for the cupcake’s sake. :) I’ve never had much luck with chocolate ganache, but by now, I’m an expert at rescuing broken ganache and making it smooth and glossy again. (I’ve tried pretty much every single rescue method.) I added a bit of honey to it and piped it onto the cupcake after leaving it out in room temperature to cool. Once you make this, you won’t want to go back to regular chocolate frosting again.
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop
Makes 1 quart
1 ½ cups toasted hazelnuts
1 cup whole milk (I substituted by combining skim milk with half and half.)
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
3 1/2 oz. chopped milk chocolate + ½ oz. semisweet dark chocolate
5 large egg yolks (I used about 5 ½- 6 egg yolks; the amount you use affects the creaminess of the texture.)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the hazelnuts for 10-12 minutes, stirring them 1-2 times in between. Snap one hazelnut in half. If it is light golden brown, the hazelnuts are done. Use a warm kitchen towel to rub the hazelnut skins off (don’t worry if you can’t take them all off).
- Warm milk with 1 cup cream, sugar, and salt in saucepan. Remove from heat and add chopped hazelnuts. Cover and steep for one hour.
- Put milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl, heat the last cup of cream in a saucepan until it starts to boil. Pour cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Place a mesh strainer over the bowl.
- Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through the strainer into a medium saucepan, squeeze the hazelnuts with your hands to get as much flavor as possible and discard the hazelnuts.
- Warm the hazelnut-infused mixture. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl and gradually pour the hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks. Whisk constantly and scrape the warm egg yolks into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture over medium heat and scrape the bottom when you stir. When the mixture is ready, it will thicken and coat the wooden spoon/spatula. Pour custard through strainer and stir into milk chocolate mixture. Add vanilla and cool over an ice bath.
- Chill and make your ice cream according to the ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions.
Gâteau aux noisettes et au miel (Honey Hazelnut Cake)
Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini’s adaptation of the recipe from “Les Gâteaux de Mamie”
Makes approx. 12 cupcakes
12 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup flour
Pinch of salt
2-3 teaspoons baking powder (Adjust according to how light you want your cake to be.)
1 cup hazelnuts
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 360 degrees F.
- Sift flour and blend with sugar, salt, and baking powder.
- Gradually add the eggs and stir.
- Chop the hazelnuts and incorporate them into the dough.
- Melt the butter and honey and pour this into the dough.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes if you are making cupcakes.
Chocolate Honey Ganache Frosting
Frosts about 9 cupcakes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup 60%+ dark chocolate
4-7 teaspoons honey (Adjust to taste.)
- Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie (double boiler), or by placing it in a bowl over a small pan of simmering water. You can microwave it in 20 second intervals, but melting it over a stove is faster.
- Warm the heavy cream in a saucepan until scalding (just before it boils).
- Slowly add the heavy cream to the chocolate in small increments and mix. Aim for an emulsion of the cream and chocolate. I prefer to use a silicone spatula to mix.
- Add in the honey and stir to combine.
- Leave for 2-3 hours at room temperature until it is stiff enough to frost.
Check out the other Ice Cream Cupcake contestants, try the recipes, and enjoy!