I’m ready for fall flavors, and these Hazelnut Cupcakes with Autumn Spice Buttercream have helped fill that void!
Hazelnuts have a special place in my heart. They are the official State Nut (did you know States had official nuts?!) of Oregon, and a huge player in Oregon agriculture. They remind me so much of the few years I worked at a Winery in Oregon. My job was to talk about wine, serve people, attend festivals, plan wine makers dinners, and help make the winery tasting room look beautiful throughout all the seasons. Wait– why did I leave? It really was the best job I’ve ever had.
Oregon Bounty is a harvest celebration in the fall. Farms (including vineyards) host special dinners and events featuring all of Oregon’s finest produce. Hazelnuts, pears, wine… heaven! These cupcakes would be a great Oregon Bounty offering. If you’re in the Pacific NW this fall, check it out!
Since beginning to bake gluten free, my favorite cakes by far have been the grain free recipes I’ve tried. The consistency, if done right, is more like classic white flour baked goods than any grain combinations. I don’t like using starches- I’d prefer to have more healthy fats than empty calories from starches and nutrition-stripped grain flours.
Grain free baking is primarily done with coconut and other nut flours- almond being a popular one. If you’re interested in grain-free baking, Elana’s Pantry is a must-use resource. She’s been baking with these flours for over a decade, and her recipes are flawless.
Healthy baking, especially grain free baking, can get pretty expensive. These aren’t cupcakes you’re probably going to want to take in for your daughter’s birthday party at school. To keep costs down, and to make sure I’m getting the freshest ingredients possible, I make my own nut flours. Almond flour is a cinch to make- especially if you buy blanched almonds. Throw them in the blender for 1-2 minutes, and you’re set.
There are recipes that call for a finer milled almond flour, but I find for cookies, almond meal (not flour- meal is process almonds with the skin still on) is the best. For cupcakes or quick breads, blanched almonds ground up work better.
For these cupcakes, I wanted to infuse fall flavor, so I used hazelnut flour. First, I roasted the hazelnuts. After roasting them, the skins were practically falling off. I rubbed them in a towel, and 75% of them were beautifully peeled. The ones who had more stubborn skins I pulled out and used for topping the cupcakes. They also make a pretty good topping for yogurt.
The first batch of cupcakes (the ones pictured), I also swirled a teaspoon of hazelnut butter into the batter on the top. It was a nice crunchy texture, but it made the cupcakes really dark on the top, and it didn’t add as much flavor as I’d hoped.
In the 2nd batch, I just added a tiny bit of almond extract, and that really helped bring out the nutty flavor of the hazelnuts. If I had a hazelnut extract, I would try that.
To keep the frosting healthy, I used greek yogurt cream cheese. I’ve used it before in my Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting, and love the texture. It needs only a small amount of sweetener, rather than the cups and cups regular buttercream requires. Using the greek yogurt variety ups the protein, and makes it easier for me to digest, since I’m lactose intolerant. There’s 4 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons of this “frosting!”
I topped these beauties with hazelnuts and crystalized ginger. The ginger was an amazing addition to the already spiced frosting!
These are a treat you can feel good about giving to your family– for dessert– for afternoon tea– after school snack any body?
- ½ cup hazelnuts (plus a few extra)
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- 4 eggs
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract (or hazelnut)
- 8-ounce package greek yogurt cream cheese (or low fat cream cheese) - room temperature
- 2 tablespoons salted butter - room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg)
- hazelnuts (optional, for topping)
- crystalized ginger (optional, for topping)
- Preheat oven to 300º f.
- On a cookie sheet, bake hazelnuts for 14 minutes.
- Let the hazelnuts cool for a couple of minutes, then rub them in a linen towel to remove the skins. If some of the skins are stubborn and don't come off, set them aside. You won't need a full ½ cup to yield ½ cup of hazelnut flour.
- Increase oven temperature to 350º f.
- Once the hazelnuts have cooled, put the peeled hazelnuts in a blender. Process for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to over process and create hazelnut butter. Remove any larger chunks (my blender processed a pretty smooth batter, with no larger pieces).
- Measure out ½ cup of hazelnut four, and add to a mixing bowl with coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together eggs, coconut oil, honey, and flavorings. Mix together well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until the lumps of coconut flour have been broken up. After a minute or two, the coconut flour will absorb the liquid, and the batter will become a thicker consistency.
- Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. Fill the papers about ¾ of the way full. Over filling will lead to really puffy tops.
- Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes at 350º f.
- Meanwhile, add all frosting ingredients to a food processor bowl. Make sure the butter and cream cheese have warmed to room temperature, or they won't blend together well.
- Process for 1-2 minutes, until ingredients are mixed well.
- Frost cooled cupcakes with "buttercream," and top with additional hazelnuts or chunks of crystalized ginger.
What fall flavors are you looking forward to?