The flavours of banana and coconut with the contrasting textures of soft cake and slightly crunchy coconut flakes makes this cupcake scrumptious. What makes it even better is that surprise of a whole chocolate hazelnut ball within! It is wonderful to sink your teeth into a thin layer of crushed nuts, wafer, generous chocolate cream and one whole hazelnut.

I often have a box of chocolate hazelnut balls in my pantry. I don’t buy them. I don’t have to. I receive them as gifts. Where I live, Ferrero Rocher, promotes their chocolate hazelnut balls heavily. They are good but they are terrible for my waist line. I am always happy when someone else eats them up before me. Ever wondered why Rocher chocolates are so tasty? They are made by the same company who makes Nutella!

This cupcake was created out of necessity and desperation. Necessity because I am clearing out my pantry. Desperation because I can’t afford to eat another Rocher chocolate and everyone else in the house is tired of them at the moment. So I had to come up with something creative. I also had to clear out my bag of sweetened coconut strips, a packet of coconut milk that was close to expiring and I have so many frozen bananas in my freezer it’s insane. The result of putting these ingredients together is this phenomenally good cupcake. I like how the coconut milk lightens the taste of the bananas which can be overpowering if I had used milk instead. This is a super good way to use up those Rocher chocolates and have everyone else finish the cupcakes because they are really good!

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. I am going to use up all my remaining Rocher chocolates on these cupcakes.  I am going to share the love and the calories. 

These are a Nut-Free Alternative, where the hazelnut balls were replaced with Valrhona chocolate discs, Guanaja 70% cocoa.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ball In A Banana Coconut Cupcake

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: 25 minutes
Inactive:
Level: Moderately easy
Makes: ~5 to 6 depending on the size of the paper baking cups
Oven Temperature: 360F (180C) oven rack middle position
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Keeps well on the kitchen counter up to 2 days, longer if refrigerated.

Ingredients

The batter
Mix 1
3.52oz (100g) unsalted butter
2.64oz (75g) caster sugar
1/3 cup banana (~ 1 banana)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix 2
1 medium sized egg (1.76oz; 50g without shells)
Mix 3
5.64oz (160g) plain/all-purpose flour
1 and 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix 4
1/4 cup coconut milk
1  Tablespoon yogurt
Mix 5
0.88oz (25g) sweetened desiccated coconut
OR
sugared coconut strips, cut into small shreds
Others
5 – 6  chocolate balls that have a whole hazelnut encased within. Example: Ferrero Rocher, Lindt Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Lindor Truffles, Perugina Baci
For a Nut-Free Alternative: Replace with chocolate discs (feve). I like French, Valrhona Guanaja 70% cocoa. Image below.
The topping
1.41oz (40g) sugared coconut strips (refer to feature image) OR
Coconut icing
10 Tablespoons icing sugar
3 teaspoons coconut milk
5 Tablespoons sweetened desiccated coconut for sprinkling

For a Nut-Free Version, replace Ferrero Rocher with these chocolate discs (feve)


Method

Getting the right sized paper baking cups
You need large paper baking cups. I use either 2.4″ x 1.8″ (6cm x 4.5cm) or 2.7″ x 1.9″ (6.8 x 4.82cm) (bottom diameter x height). These larger size baking cups will allow the hazelnut chocolate balls to nestle perfectly in the centre. You could use slightly smaller sized ones though I have not tried to do so. If you are using smaller size baking cups, be careful how deep or how far up you decide to rest the chocolate ball.  Too low and it might sink.  Too high and it might rise up. I recommend using larger size ones as you have more depth to play with.

Prep Mix 1 (Butter, Banana, Sugar, Vanilla)
1. Turn on the oven to 360F (180C) and adjust the oven rack to middle position.
2. Before starting, the butter should be softened (not melty). All other ingredients should be at room temperature.
3. Add butter, bananas, sugar and vanilla extract into mixing bowl.

Prep Mix 2 (Eggs)
1. Measure out eggs and lightly whisk them up.

Prep Mix 3 (Flour, Baking Powder, Salt)
1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt.

Prep Mix 4 (Yogurt, Coconut Milk)
1. Mix the yogurt into the coconut milk.

Prep Mix 5 (Desiccated Coconut )
1. Measure out and have it ready.

Cream Mix 1 (Butter, Banana, Sugar, Vanilla)
1. Attach whisk attachment to the beater shaft of your mixer.

2.  Turn your mixer to medium low and work it up to medium high speed until batter is thick – like the texture of a body lotion.  When you lift up the whisk, it will leave only a faint trail. Scrape bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add Mix 2: (Eggs)
1. Restart machine on medium speed, add the egg and incorporate for 1 to 2 minutes so that the batter thickens up further.
2. Remove from the mixer stand and use a spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to fully incorporate egg.

Fold in Mix 3 (Flour, Baking Powder, Salt),
Mix 4 (Yogurt, Coconut Milk) &
Mix 5 (Desiccated Coconut)

1. Add 1/3 Mix 3 and fold in gently and quickly.
2. Add 1/2 of Mix 4 and fold in.
3. Fold in another 1/3 Mix 3. Do not over mix.
4. Add the remaining 1/2 of Mix 4.
5. Add the last 1/3 of Mix 3 with Mix 5 and fold in. Make sure that there are no flour lumps. Work with a light hand and do not over mix or the cupcakes will be heavy and doughy.

Divide the batter
1. Divide batter into cupcakes liners, leaving about 1 Tablespoon per cupcake liners to conceal the chocolate ball. For instance, if using 5 paper baking cups: 1 Tablespoon batter X 5 baking cups = 5 Tablespoons batter to be reserved.
2. Insert the chocolate ball until the top of the ball is in line with the top of the batter. Refer to the image below. Cover the ball with 1 Tablespoon of batter and level the batter. The paper baking cups liners below measure 2.4″ x 1.8″ (6cm x 4.5cm) and I had used 5.

3. These cupcakes will rise into a dome which is the way I want them as the dome accentuates the spherical hazelnut balls. If they crack on you, it’s a small matter as you can cover it up with the sweetened coconut strips or coconut icing. If you want them flat, only fill them up under 2/3 full.

Bake
1. Bake for 25 minutes. To test for doneness, do not skewer through the centre where the chocolate ball sits but in between the centre and the side. If the skewer comes out clean, remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Be patient and wait until it completely cools before eating adding topping of your choice.

The topping

Coconut strips: If using coconut strips, simply poke them through the top so they look like windsocks flapping in the air.

Coconut icing: If you choose to top with coconut icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually work in the coconut milk until it has a consistency of smooth peanut butter. It should not be runny. Slather on top of the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle the desiccated coconut immediately so that it can adhere.

Tips

(1) Valentine’s Day
These would make such an unusual cupcake to gift for Valentine’s Day! Don’t tell them about the Ferrero Rocher unless of course they are allergic to nuts!

(2) Boxing cupcakes as gifts

(1) Pick up gift boxes and line them with food grade tissue sheets or printed wax paper. If you do not have access to those than use parchment paper. Sometimes, to pretty up the parchment paper, I doodle on them with my edible food pen. The pen ink is made of glycerin, water and food colouring. I bought my pen from a baking supply store but I do see them being sold at better stocked supermarkets.

(2) Gift boxes can be inexpensive and they are often pretty enough that you do not need to dress them up further. If the only gift boxes you can find are dull and boring looking, choose single coloured boxes instead of patterned ones. This will allow you a neutral canvas to embellish with ribbons and such. If you do not have the energy or creativity, I have an easier idea. We all have pen or pens and perhaps even markers in our homes. Use those to work in some squiggles on the outside of the box. Black ink is always a safe colour to use. Keep it simple and don’t overdo the artwork. Outlining a few hearts or bubbles is a safe choice.

(3) Write a message on the inside bottom of the gift box. No one really expects that and it amuses them. Have fun and don’t stress too much wondering if it is pretty enough as your recipient isn’t expecting a signed masterpiece.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

In an earlier blog post, The Ultimate Milo Dinosaur – The Best Icy Chocolate Drink, I had mentioned that I would post a recipe for Mac and Cheese. If you had made my delicious chocolate drink you would have had quite a bit of evaporated milk leftover. This is the recipe that will use up that milk. Never had Mac and Cheese made from a sauce that uses evaporated milk? It makes the sauce silky smooth without the fear of it going grainy and gritty. Look out for the recipe.

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