One of the perks of teaching in a pre-school around Christmas time is the chocolate. Over the last few days of term I was lucky enough to bring home boxes and boxes of chocolate. It’s nearly three weeks since Christmas, but the entire bottom shelf of our fridge is still full of chocolates, bags of sweets and a few left over fancy biscuits. I ate a lot of chocolate in the run up to Christmas, and now it’s the New Year, i’m trying not to cut back a little bit. I’ve managed fairly well this week, I haven’t been able to completely resist the chocolates, but I haven’t eaten them everyday, so we’ll call that a success!
It’s some of these lovely Christmas chocolates that have inspired my first cupcakes of the year. One of my absolute favourite chocolate box treats are Guylian Chocolate Seashells. I love the smooth chocolate shell, with its swirls of white, milk and dark, and the soft praline centres. I’ve always been slightly confused by the shrimp though….
Anyway, the sponge is light and nutty. The chocolate taste is subtle within the cake, but rich in the buttercream. As you bite through, you find occasional chunks of slightly gooey praline chocolate. I love replacing some of the flour in my cakes with nuts, the hazelnuts in this sponge make it really moist and delicious. The smooth buttercream is topped off with indulgent chocolate seashells.
You could easily adapt these cupcakes for any chocolates you might have leftover from Christmas. If it’s a little too early in the year for putting chocolates onto cupcakes, half the buttercream recipe, and just spread a little bit across the top of the cakes. If you’ve been good this week though, i’m sure a little treat wouldn’t hurt!
Hazelnut Praline Cupcakes with Guylian Chocolate Seashells
for the cupcakes
115g unsalted butter
115g white caster sugar
2 large eggs
85g plain flour
55g ground hazelnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
30g cocoa powder
45g praline chocolates, roughly chopped (about 4 chocolate seashells)
for the icing
150g softened butter
100g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
3 tablespoons milk
12 chocolate seashells
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Mix in the flour, salt, baking powder, hazelnuts and eggs. Mix until just combined.
Add the cocoa powder and milk and beat together.
Finally, add the roughly chopped chocolates and gently stir through.
Divide the mixture between 12 cupcakes cases.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch.
Remove from the tin and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the buttercream.
Beat the butter until softened and smooth.
Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the milk and mix together until creamy and smooth.
Pipe or spoon onto the cupcakes.
Top with a chocolate seashell, or your favourite pralines.