3 July 2013

Hazelnut Praline Muffins

Given how stressful work has been the last couple of days I decided to take liberties and leave a whole 10 mins early so I could get back in time to bake before my sports massage. I have had my beady eye on this recipe since I twigged that it was basically Nutella muffins. I love Nutella. It was first introduced to me when I was on holiday in France visiting my french cousins. I was passed a brioche with Nutella and it would have been rude not to eat it. Truthfully I had no idea I was being 'tricked' in to eating nuts - it just looked like chocolate to me! From that year on it was a ritual; each time we went to France (most years) it would be a chocolate croissant for breakfast, loaded with Nutella. Warm croissants so the Nutella melted a bit and went runny, covering my face.

In fact it was through Nutella that I started to give up stubborn ways and let nuts in to my life, slowly but surely. Yes, it was the whole nut food group that I 'didn't like' (refused to try). I now can't think of any nuts that I will not eat. Peanuts were my big stumbling point and peanut butter still presents a speed bump, but nuts are well and truly in my life - Nutella for breafast, Almond biscotti with coffee, cashews as a pre-gym snackette, salted peanuts before dinner or at a bar (accepted in my food repertoire as late as May the 8th 2013 I believe), nuts scattered on dinner and more Nutella for pudding, ideally just with a spoon. Nuts. Nuts. Nuts. Nom. Nom. Nom.

So yes. Once I read the ingredients list on the off chance a few months ago I wanted to bake these bad boys.

I like the idea that each bite has Nutella involved, as there is a bit of Nutella in the sponge. Then for the magic... The batter is quite thick, so it's a patience-testing process if you're pouring the batter from a jug like I do (definitely adds to the washing up but avoids mess). So you plop a bit of batter in the bottom, letting the batter level out. Then top with a big scoop of Nutella (1 for the cakes, 1 for me, 1 for the cakes, 1 for me) then blob another bit of batter on top. The thick mixture engulfs the Nutella and hides it. I think it's important that the batter is thick so it holds the Nutella boyant in the middle of the muffin and it doesn't just sink to the bottom. 

As if that wasn't quite magic enough you mix the remaining caster sugar and some chopped hazelnuts and sprinkle this magic mixture on top of the muffins, which then forms a crackled, sugary crust on top of the muffins. Reflecting back, although the assembly takes longer there is no faffing with icing (or frosting as I should say) and it is very easy - it just takes time to wait for the batter to move and do it's thing.

I could not wait until I took these muffins in to work, so I had to try one on the night. These muffins are probably in my top 3 recipes. They're original, with a delicate sponge, a naughty filling and no frosting to do... and best of all they involve Nutella.

Dissapointingly they don't keep as well as a lot of the other hummingbird recipes as they lose their sugary crust.

I must tell you that Nutella have not endorsed me, sponsored me or bribed me in any way shape or form I just bloody love Nutella!!
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