I was first introduced to a type of Nutella, that delightful spread made from hazelnuts and cocoa when I was a small child, living in Caracas, Venezuela. There it is called Nucita since the Spanish word for nuts is nueces and it isn’t actually made by the Nutella company but by a Venezuelan enterprise. Unfortunately, after one year there, my parents divorced and I moved back to the United States with my mother and two sisters. So the hazelnut paste romance was short-lived. According to the Nutella website, the real deal didn’t arrive in the US until 1984, and then, only in the northeastern states. (As for my old friend, Nucita, I’ve never seen it in the States, although it’s possible that some stores in Florida might carry it, since there is a large population of Venezuelans living there.) As I grew older, I would run across Nutella occasionally while overseas but as my preferred tastes changed from sweet to savory, I never regained the lost love. My daughters are a different matter. I have been buying Nutella for them since they were young and they like to eat it with a spoon. Never mind the original toast it was meant to be eaten on. Last year, for World Nutella Day, I sent them each two jars through Amazon.com. Because some holidays are well worth celebrating. Put it on your calendar now, folks!
Before writing this post I did a little research about this much loved spread and discovered that the original recipe was created by pastry maker Pietro Ferrero using hazelnuts because chocolate was in such short supply due to World War II rationing. Hazelnuts, on the other hand, were plentiful in his native land, the Piedmont region of northern Italy. I must confess that I was probably in my twenties before I figured out that Nutella wasn’t made from just chocolate, despite its name. Call me slow but I just never thought about it. [bows head in shame]
Anyway, back to Muffin Monday where we are making Nutella-filled and Nutella-topped Muffins! You can find the original recipe here, which called only for Nutella topping but you know I am always looking for ways to raise the bar.
3/4 cup or 170g sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups + 2 teaspoons or 190g all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup or 60ml vegetable oil
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 1/3 cup or 100g Nutella for filling
About 1/3 cup or 100g Nutella for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C. Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with baking cups.
Measure your first 1/3 cup or 100g of Nutella into a small bowl and place it in the ice tray of your freezer. We just want it to stiffen up a little bit. If you live in a cold climate, this step may not be necessary but here in Egypt in the summer, my Nutella is pretty runny.
In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients together: sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
In another smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, oil, milk and vanilla extract.
Add the wet stuff to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Fill each muffin cup about two tablespoons of batter. I use a cookie dough scoop for this because it is more accurate and so easy. Also, it reminds me of the friend that bought it for me here.
Divide your Nutella from the freezer between the muffin cups and then top with the remainder of the batter.
|See, nice and firm, so it doesn't run all over the batter.|
Add a dollop of the other 1/3 cup or 100g of Nutella to each muffin cup and swirl it around a few times in the batter with a toothpick or a pointy knife. I always have a supply of satay sticks on hand so I used one of those. If you are in a cold climate, you can give it quick zap in the microwave to get it moving. Definitely not my problem here.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. You can't poke these with a toothpick to see if they are done because you just end up with a toothpick full of Nutella so look for light golden brown around the edges.
Remove the muffins from the muffin tin and let them cool a little bit on a wire rack before serving. These go great with a glass of ice cold milk.
Muffin Monday is an initiative by Baker Street. A culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week. Drop in a quick line to join her on her journey to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings week after week.
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