Since I moved to New York in September, I have been nannying for a little girl named Olivia. Growing up with three brothers in the suburbs, it has been very interesting for me to experience the life of a nine-year old only child growing up in New York City. Our afternoons are spent riding the subway from one after-school activity to the next, from hip-hop class to voice lessons to play practice and even Broadway auditions. We stop for a chat with the doorman, go to her apartment, eat dinner and do her homework. She plays on the computer, or makes music videos with her iPad. With talk about applying to middle school, the latest youtube videos, and how Santa gets into her apartment even though she doesn’t have a chimney.
Spending that much time one-on-one with Olivia, I have gotten to know her pretty well. I know that her favorite subject is science, and she hates doing math homework. She preferences summer to winter, and one time lied on a personality test so it would say that her personality most aligns with summer, although autumn was a close call. Olivia loves, and I mean loves, her dog Allie. Evenings at the apartment are spent playing with Allie, talking about Allie, or talking to Allie. She also loves making music videos on her iPad, which is actually a pretty cool app, and she has allowed me to play a supporting role in some of her productions. I know that she loves mac and cheese, but isn’t so much into red sauce. Lastly, I have come to discover that while she isn’t really a sweets kind of kid, Olivia loves Nutella. If she could, she would eat it for breakfast, snack, and a dessert probably every day (although we have had the discussion many times that no, it isn’t actually a ‘healthy’ chocolate spread just because the jar says so.).
Whenever I bake something, I always try to bring a piece to Olivia, although I have yet to be able to create something that she was willing and excited to taste. (Pumpkin toffee cookies? No thank you. Cinnamon Roll cookies? Nope! Chocolate truffles? Umm… I’ll just have some Lay’s potato chips). So with her 10th birthday on the horizon, and my personal need to bandage my slightly damaged ego, I wanted to make something extra special that I knew she couldn’t resist.
Enter Nutella. Working with an ingredient I knew was guaranteed to draw her in, I searched and found this recipe for Self-Frosting Nutella Cupcakes. At first I didn’t really understand what was meant by ‘self-frosting,’ but after baking a batch I totally understand what is happening, and I am totally into it. Because of the consistency of Nutella and the fact that it is dolloped and swirled onto the top of the cupcake before baking, the result is a very thin layer of cake baked over creamy Nutella just underneath, acting as icing. Each bite is therefore the perfect combination of moist, light cake and sweet Nutella icing without the mess. The cupcake is basically built to travel and perfect for kids and their tendency for all things messy. By adding an extra swirl in the middle I was able to incorporate the chocolate throughout the cupcake, and I must say that I am very pleased with the results. So here is to Olivia on her big double-digits birthday, and my personal accomplishment as Nanny of the Year.
Adapted from Family Kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes
¼ c. butter
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¾ c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ t. salt
½ c. milk (I used vanilla almond milk)
1/3 c. Greek yogurt (I used plain)
½ c. (or so) Nutella
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
*While you are making the batter, allow the jar of Nutella to sit in bowl of hot water. This helps get a more liquefied consistency to make it easier to swirl and prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes
In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; add half to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Add the milk and yogurt and beat, then add the remaining flour mixture and beat just until combined.
Using half the batter, fill each cup half way. Add a small dollop of Nutella to each cup (maybe only ½ t or so) , and swirl using the tip of a knife, toothpick, or anything pointy. Be careful not to push the Nutella to bottom of the cup. With the remaining batter, fill each muffin tin to the top and add another dollop of Nutella (you can be a little more generous this time). Swirl the top of each cupcake to incorporate the Nutella and batter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the batter springs back.
Happy Birthday Olivia!