February 05, 2010

Nutella Black Bottoms

for the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 oz miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Nutella
1 egg, at room temperature

for the batter:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (sounds icky, but makes them nice and fluffy)

Preheat oven to 350.
for the filling:
Cream together the Nutella, cream cheese and sugar. Beat in egg until well mixed. Fold in chocolate chips. Set aside.

for the batter:
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl. Add water, oil, vanilla and vinegar. Beat VERY thoroughly. Line mini muffin pans. Fill pans less then 2/3 full with chocolate batter. Do not overfill. Drop approximately 1/2 teaspoon of the filling on top. Bake on the center rack for 20 minutes or until toothpick stuck in the center of a center cupcake comes out clean. Cool briefly in the pans on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Yield: 6 dozen.

Note: Resist the urge to use a standard sized cupcake pan, the ratio of chocolate to cream cheese filling gets thrown off and they just are not nearly as good.

My thoughts:
I love Nutella. When we were in Belgium this fall we brought back a huge "family sized" jar of Nutella. The customs people looked at me like I was crazy but it was worth it, Nutella is tastier (no HFCS) and cheaper in Europe. Last year for Nutella Day I made Nutella Cheesecake Squares which ended up becoming one of my most read/made recipes in the nearly six years I've been posting recipes here. I loved the Nutella/cream cheese combination so I decided to revisit it in a twist on the black bottom recipe my family has been making and perfecting since I was born. Or at least the early '80s. I can't remember a year when we didn't make a batch (and often, a double batch) of black bottoms at least once. These black bottoms lose a bit of their color contrast drama thanks to the Nutella, but they are so delicious, I don't think anyone will mind. I think of black bottoms as being a marriage between cupcake and cheesecake and these are no different, they just have shot of chocolate-y hazelnut-y lusciousness. I sent some home with my mother and she called three times to say how good they were and how everyone who tried them to loved them.

Six dozen sounds like an insane number but they are very small and take a fair amount of effort so I don't mind making a lot. I only have one mini cupcake pan but it makes two dozen cupcakes at once so it goes pretty quickly. If you make them in batches refrigerate the batter and filling between batches. While the recipe can be doubled, I do not recommend halving it. Luckily, black bottoms freeze really, really well. Since we are only a two person household, I like to make a batch and freeze some in individual portions to send home with friends when they visit and for dessert emergencies. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter. They taste best at room temperature.