That which should never enter my house rides again

I blame Costco.  After a near five year reprieve from membership at the warehouse mecca, TD and found ourselves wandering its (too busy for a Friday night) aisles.  Wandering the aisles at Costco is never a good idea.  I can’t remember what we went in for but am fairly certain the case of beer, apple chips, baby naans and two huge containers of Nutella were not on the original list.

There are only two things that I don’t trust myself to casually keep on hand.  The first is Cheez-Its.The second, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is Nutella.  Late on the night of the Costco trip I could hear the chocolate-hazelnut spread calling to me from the garage in little Italian voices accompanied by an accordian.  I swear.

Something needed to be done with the Nutella…before I was done with it.

Cue the cupcakes.  I started with a great basic vanilla and buttermilk cupcake recipe from Sunset Magazine.  The recipe is simple and the resulting cupcakes have enough integrity (structurally speaking) to take on an inch or two of frosting.

Starting with my go-to buttercream recipe, I added a generous blob of Nutella.  And then I added some more for good measure.

After a quick roll in chocolate jimmies, I had, what I thought was a pretty good misdirection for the serious error in judgement that was the purchase of Nutella.  As a bonus, the cupcake recipe makes exactly 12 little cakes.  So, I didn’t even have an excuse to try one since my carrying container holds one dozen and my own sense of social propriety didn’t want to explain what happened to the missing one.

Malted Vanilla Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

cake adapted from Sunset Magazine

For the Cake


  • 6 TBS  unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C plus 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C malted milk powder
  • 2/3 C buttermilk at room temp.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line pan with 12 cupcake wrappers.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, malted milk powder and salt into a medium bowl, set aside.
  3. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and all the sugar until well blended.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on high speed until well blended.
  5. With mixer on low speed, beat about a third of the flour mixture into butter mixture, then about a third of the buttermilk. Repeat to beat in remaining flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating in thirds. When all the flour is incorporated, beat mixture on medium speed just until well blended.
  6. Fill paper-lined or buttered muffin cups (1/3-cup capacity) about three-fourths full with batter (about 1/4 cup in each).
  7. Bake in a 350° oven until tops spring back when lightly touched in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
  8. Cool on racks 5 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.

For the frosting


  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 C plus 2 TBS sugar (superfine)
  • pinch of salt
  • 12 ounces (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 tsp cold espresso (optional)
  • 3/4 C Nutella


  1. In the heat-proof bowl of a stand-mixer, combine egg-whites, sugar and salt.  Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.  The temp on an instant-read thermometer should read between 150-160 F.
  2. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Starting on low speed, and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, beat until the mixture is fluffy and glossy and completely cool (you can tell by touching the side of the bowl).  Process will take about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at-a-time, mixing well between each addition.  At some point the frosting will start to look curdled.  Don’t worry, just keep on going.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment.  Add-in espresso and Nutella mixing on low until everything is combined.
  5. Generously frost cupcakes.



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