Can you think of a better way to eat yellow squash and carrots than in a chocolate cupcake topped with Nutella cream cheese icing? I didn’t think so.
August is the very first month of the Nutella Challenge hosted by Bell’ alimento! To get things started, Paula over at Bell’ alimento made a wonderful Nutella gelato for the challenge. While I have the whole month to submit my recipe for the challenge, I was too excited about this recipe to defer my blog post to another day.
The organization that I do some consulting for (and used to be a full-time employee at) asked me to be a judge at an Iron Chef style recipe contest tomorrow over lunch. Since I didn’t feel it was fair to show up empty handed, I decided to make some cupcakes to take along with me as my contribution to the lunch fare. Besides, I am always happy to have people to help me eat my creations. If my hubby and I ate all of the baked goods I make, we would both weight an extra 50 pounds, at least!
For the contest, the secret ingredient is zucchini. I didn’t have any zucchini on hand, but I still have loads of yellow squash from my garden, so I decided to use squash instead. After all, I am not competing in the challenge since I will be judging, so I figured I could bend the rules a bit.
I knew that I also wanted to bake something for the Nutella Challenge, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I started out thinking I would make Nutella squash (zucchini) bread, but I wanted something that would be easier to serve in a potluck-style setting. So, then I thought about making some muffins instead of a loaf of bread. Somehow the muffins turned into cupcakes, carrots got added to the batter, and I decided to use the Nutella in the icing instead of in the cupcake. The results were fantastic – dense, moist chocolate cupcakes with creamy chocolate hazelnut icing.
From this recipe, I made 24 cupcakes plus two small individually portioned cakes for my hubby and I to have for dessert. If you prefer, the recipe will also yield two 9-inch cake layers (but baking time will vary).
Chocolate Carrot and Squash Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cup yellow squash (or zucchini), shredded
- 1 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners, and set aside.
In one bowl, combine the wet ingredients – squash, carrots, eggs, canola oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Mix only until all of the dry ingredients are moistened – do not over mix.
Pour the prepared batter into the muffin tins, filling each cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Nutella Cream Cheese Icing
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat because that’s what I had on hand)
- 1/2 cup Nutella
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon of half and half
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, Nutella, and shortening. Beat on high until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a small amount of half and half (approximately one tablespoon) to adjust the consistency of the icing, if necessary.
Transfer the icing to a pastry bag and pipe a swirl of icing onto the top of each cupcake. I used a large star tip for my cupcakes.
Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This will help the icing to remain stiff, especially in the summer heat.