Tuesday, September 14, 2010


So at the beginning of September, Tyrone and I went to Maine for a much needed vacation, and also for my Dad's birthday.

This post is late to say Happy Birthday, but I am so happy I was able to take the time to be there in person this year. My Dad is THE smartest person I know, and never fails to shock me at his infinite knowledge, and also his modesty. And the fact that if and when he reads this, he will laugh at me calling him infinitely knowledgeable.

He is also incredibly positive. I always remember very specifically when he would drive me to school, and it would be raining, he would say "What a beautiful day!" Now, as a kid, I thought he was being crazy. It's raining?! How could it possibly be a beautiful day? Silly Dad.
What a gift that is! To be able to look at the world everyday and say, "What a beautiful day!" This is a lesson I am still learning all the time, and that lots of people never learn.

This has been a rough year financially, so I wasn't able to buy my Dad a nice gift. I decided to make him something extra special in place of a traditional birthday cake.

I know you can't read it, but that says HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD using....

 Ferraro Rocher Cupcakes! These are basically cupcakes that recreate the Ferraro Rocher candies in cupcake form. I would suggest using a high quality cocoa powder such as Valrhona. It is a bit pricey, but makes a HUGE difference. I know you can also get it at Whole Foods, if you have one near you.

Ferraro Rocher cupcakes
adapted from The Cupcake Project
makes 24 regular cupcakes/ 12 large

1/2 cup boiling water
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon hazelnut extract (I couldn't find this ANYWHERE, so order it online!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
10 tablespoons dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cupcake pans, or use the paper liners.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk boiling water into cocoa until smooth and whisk in milk, vanilla and hazelnut extracts. Set aside.

3) In a large bowl, beat together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

4) In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt and add to egg mixture in batches, alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mix. Make sure to fully incorporate each addition, and stop to scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

5)Fill each wrapper about halfway. These cupcakes rise a lot. This makes just enough batter, so be careful. Bake for about 18 minutes, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cupcakes are baked and cooled, make the filling and topping!

Chocolate Hazelnut Filling (Nutella can also be used)

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract

1) Bring heavy cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate chips and whisk to melt them. Add extract. Mix with a hand mixer until fluffy.

2) Cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake. Once the filling has cooled, fill each cupcake with 1-2 teaspoons of filling, replacing tops.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache topping

1/2 cup heavy cream
8oz good semisweet chocolate chunks
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (you can leave this out, it just makes the topping glisten more like candy)
2 teaspoons hazelnut extract
1 cup ground hazelnuts, toasted

Bring heavy cream to a boil, and pour over chocolate chunks to melt. Whisk in corn syrup and extract. Add ground hazelnuts to ganache, and spread on top of cupcakes.

Once this is done, decorate as you wish. I used gold sprinkles and gold icing for the lettering.


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