When my sister called and asked me to make a dessert for her office party, I jumped at the chance to recreate an old favorite. Way back toward the beginning of Willow Bird Baking, I made some fun Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes in which I stuck a whole frozen candy into each cupcake prior to baking. I enjoyed those (despite the candy losing a bit of crunch), but always wanted to find the time to tweak the concept a bit.
This was my chance! I wanted to take a moist chocolate cupcake, fill it with a giant dollop of the hazelnut-chocolate spread Nutella, ice it with rich chocolate frosting, and crown the whole thing with a Ferrero Rocher. The entire cupcake was designed to imitate the flavors in the candies themselves.
And why stop there? How easy would it be to fill some of the cupcakes with peanut butter instead, topping them with a huge Reese's Cup? Hurray for candy cupcakes!
I could have gotten even more carried away (cupcakes filled with coconut pastry cream and topped with Mounds? Cupcakes filled with caramel and topped with Snickers?), but I reeled it in. That doesn't mean we have to turn our imaginations off, though. What Candy Cupcake would you make?
Now, I am Wacky McWackerson. I'm as silly as they come. But that's not why these cupcakes are called Wacky Candy Cupcakes instead of just regular ol' Candy Cupcakes. Raise your hand if you've heard of Wacky Cake! Anyone?
Wacky Cake is NOT what you call the 2nd batch of cupcakes you make after ruining the previous batch and just barely convincing yourself not to throw your muffin pan across the apartment, spewing chocolate lava on your roommate's couch (hey Barb!), but good guess. I did make these Wacky Cakes after a first batch of chocolate cupcakes flopped, but that's not why they're wacky.
Wacky Cake is actually just a vegan chocolate cake -- no eggs, no milk -- and is probably called "Wacky" 'cause vegans are just a little nutty sometimes . . . just kidding, just kidding! I love you, vegans! The truth is, no one really knows why it's called wacky. Some say it's because it's a little wacky to make a cake with no eggs, which is just as good a reason as any, I guess. Regardless, Wacky Cake happens to be the perfect recipe to resort to after a flop that uses most of your eggs. Just call me MacGyver.
Turns out, Wacky Cake is also yummy and rich -- the perfect cupcake base for my creation. I went and added un-vegan ingredients to complete the recipe, but if you're a vegan looking for a great chocolate cupcake, the base recipe here is perfect for you. It's also just plain easy to make.
The frosting, on the other hand, was a bit of a hassle. It doesn't whip up very firm, so I had to refrigerate it for a bit and re-whip before frosting the cupcakes and sticking them in the fridge in a hurry. After sitting in the fridge overnight, though, the frosting is firm -- and very chocolatey and delicious. I'd use it again for the taste, but I'd make sure to have refrigerator space cleared out ahead of time to chill the cakes immediately.
Speaking of refrigerating these cupcakes, the Nutella jar expressly says not to refrigerate Nutella. Don't worry -- it's not because the product turns toxic or anything, but actually because it firms up into almost a nougat texture, which for our purposes, is awesome. The center of the Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes was a hunk of hazelnut-chocolate love.
Overall, these cupcakes were tremendous! I greedily devoured the few I kept to sample, and Sarah says her coworkers were enthusiastic about them as well! Both varieties are the perfect imitations of their respective candies, incredibly indulgent, and simple to make. If you're used to making a plain cupcake-n-frosting combo, why not get a little feisty, add a sweet filling and a candy topping, and pump up your cupcakes? It's a quick and easy way to turn a dull dessert into something special.
Now it's your turn: Think up a cupcake-version of your own favorite candy. Tell me about how you'd make it in the comments section -- and bonus points for ACTUALLY DOING IT! Send me photos of your candy cupcake creations to post on Willow Bird Baking!
Ferrero Rocher and Reese's Cup Cupcakes
Recipe by: Adapted Wacky Cake recipe from Being Wife and frosting from Hershey's
Yields: about 30 cupcakes
Wacky Cake Ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vinegar
12 tablespoons of mazola or vegetable oil
2 cups water
"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup (2 stick) butter
1 1/3 cup cocoa powder
6 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Candy supplies needed:
Creamy peanut butter (I don't use the natural sort for this because I kind of want a processed, sweet flavor)
15 Ferrero Rocher candies
15 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (I use the big sort!)
NOTE: You may want to make these cupcakes the night before you intend to serve them, since the frosting needs time to set in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 30 cupcake wells with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking soda.
Add vanilla, vinegar and oil, stirring until smooth. It's normal for the mixture to seem thick and pasty right now. Add the water and mix (carefully to avoid splattering) until there are no lumps in the batter.
Pour mixture into prepared cupcake pans. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
Carefully hollow out each cupcake using a table knife, and reserving the scraps for another use (maybe cake balls?). Using a piping bag or a ziplock with the corner cut off, fill half the cupcakes with peanut butter and the other half with nutella.
Make frosting: Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, and beat to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. I refrigerated my frosting after beating to give it a thicker consistency, since it wasn't as firm as I'd like. Unwrap all your candies while it refrigerates, because you'll have to work quickly.
Have a platter ready in the fridge to receive finished cupcakes (the frosting is not very secure until it's been refrigerated for at least a few hours). Pipe a big rosette onto each cupcake, covering your filling, and plop the appropriate candy onto the middle. Place finished cupcakes directly in the fridge to sit for a few hours, and take out immediately before serving.