Dark Chocolate cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Hazelnut filling and a Caramel Buttercream Icing

For these cupcakes, I used a plain dark chocolate cupcake base which is made with oil so its not as dry as a normal cupcake. Also make sure you use unsweetened premium dutch cocoa powder as it gives a much nicer chocolaty taste! For the filling, I made a homemade nutella (recipe below), hollowed out the middle of the cupcake, using an apple corer, then filled it with the homemade nutella.  For the icing, I made a caramel sauce and incorporated around 1/2 cup of that into a plain butter icing (leaving out the milk as the caramel gives it enough moisture), as well as drizzling some left over caramel on top. Finally top with a piece or roughly chopped chocolate.

Homemade Hazelnut Spread:

1 ½  cups blanched hazelnuts
1/ 4  cup confectioners' sugar, divided
2.5 ounces milk chocolate, melted (I used kinda chocolate bars)
Pinch salt

Toast the hazelnuts at 350 degrees F until golden brown (more color means a stronger flavor). This may take 7 to 10 minutes.

Immediately place the toasted hazelnuts in a food processor with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar. Grind the hazelnuts until liquefied. This process will take approximately 5 minutes and must be stirred half way through to insure proper release of their oils (the mix will be very hot, use a metal spatula). Continue grinding until a liquid has formed. Once in liquid form, add the milk chocolate, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar. Continue grinding for 1 minute until completely mixed. Let the hazelnut spread cool completely.

Once cooled, place the hazelnut paste in a mason jar for immediate or future use. The product will not spoil if left unrefrigerated.

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