The single most appealing time of day for me to bake is right before bedtime. I’m a morning person, so evening is not a time for complex tasks; it’s more like time for cookies or quickbreads. And then when you wake up, your kitchen smells heavenly. What’s not to like?
Cupcakes are also one of those foods I mostly crave at 10 pm. The problem with this is that at 10 pm, cupcakes are within the realm of reason, but frosting is not. For years, I solved this problem by baking cupcakes from mixes late at night and eating them with frosting from a can. (I know, I know.) But now, a solution has come to me: self-frosting cupcakes. Genius, no?
These are a lightly sweet, vanilla batter with Nutella swirled around the top in lieu of frosting. It’s not quite the same experience as licking frosting off the top, but it’s a totally reasonable 10 pm substitute!
Nutella self-frosting cupcakes
Adapted from Baking Bites
10 T. butter (that’s one and a quarter sticks)
3/4 c. white sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
12 heaping teaspoons of Nutella
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Soften the butter, either by leaving it on the counter overnight or in the microwave. Cream the butter and sugar together; if you’re using a mixer, give it a few minutes to get light and fluffy, but I don’t recommend worrying about it if you’re mixing by hand.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix. At this point, the batter will look curdled. Do not fear. Add the dry ingredients all at once: flour, salt, and baking powder.* Mix to combine.
Divide the batter evenly between twelve lined or greased muffin cups. They should be about three-quarters full.
Now you need to get a heaping teaspoon of Nutella on top of each cupcake. I tried this a lot of ways, and eventually decided that the best way was to measure for the first one and then eyeball the rest using either a regular spoon or my fingers, both of which are much easier to get Nutella off of than the teaspoon.
Use a toothpick to swirl the Nutella into the batter, pulling a bit of batter up over the topping. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with only Nutella. Be careful not to overbake.
I strongly recommend allowing them to cool before eating, as Nutella has an amazing capacity to stay very hot long past the point of reason. We shall not discuss how I learned this.
*I mostly don’t believe in mixing dry ingredients separately except in the most delicate of operations, but you can help things go more smoothly by putting the flour directly on top of the wet ingredients, and the leavening on top of that. That way, the baking powder can’t get slightly wet and clump all together, leaving you with 11 unrisen cupcakes. Instead, it gets tumbled around with the flour.