Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes Recipe (Adapted for High-Altitude)

May 2, 2012

"Sometimes chocolate alone just won't do, which is why we've added irresistible hazelnut chocolate spread to these cupcakes. Decorate with hazelnuts for extra crunch."
- The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook




For the Chocolate Cake Base:
(makes 10 - 12 cupcakes)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a scant 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder (increase to 1 1/2 teaspoons for sea-level)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Nutella 

For the Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting
(enough for 12 cupcakes)
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/3 cup Nutella 


The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes Recipe
(Adapted for a high-altitude environment of approximately 5,000 ft)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 (F) -- this is a 25 degree (F) increase from the original sea-level recipe temperature of 325 (F).

  2. Put 3/4 plus 2 tablespoons flour, 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 cup sugar, pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

  3. Slowly pour 1/2 cup milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed.

  4. Add the egg and beat well, scraping any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

  5. Spoon the batter into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when touched. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  6. When the cupcakes are cold, hollow out a small section in the center of each one and fill with a dollop of Nutella.


The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook's Chocolate Hazelnut Buttercream Frosting Recipe
(For All Altitudes)

  1. Beat 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 5 tablespoons butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or, use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

  2. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in 2 tablespoons milk. When it is incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy (at least 5 minutes).

  3. When the frosting is ready, use a spatula to stir in 1/3 cup Nutella and continue mixing by hand until the Nutella is mixed into the frosting and it is an even light brown color.

  4. When the cupcakes are cold and infused with Nutella, spoon the frosting on top and decorate accordingly.


Tips & Addendums

  • Do not substitute the unsweetened cocoa powder in the recipe for sweetened cocoa powder; doing so will make the cupcake's chocolate flavor less intense.

  • You can use other chocolate hazelnut spreads if you wish; I just found Nutella to work best with the recipe.

  • You might not use the entire 1/2 cup of Nutella that the recipe's cake base calls for; it really depends on the size of the dollops you choose to infuse your cake with. If you have leftovers, save the Nutella for the frosting!

  • Liquid and dry measuring cups are different; please make sure you use the appropriate measuring cup for each ingredient.

  • After adding the milk and eggs to the flour mixture, don't overbeat as this will overwork the flour and make the cake dense -- simply beat until the milk and eggs have just been incorporated. In my opinion, making sure you don't overbeat the batter is one of the hardest parts about baking.

  • I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to divide the cupcake batter evenly between cases. For this recipe, I put 2 tablespoons of cupcake batter in each case.

  • Do not open your oven until at least the minimum time recommended has passed. Too much cold air coming from a frequently opened oven door causes irregular oven temperature, which then affect the baking process.

  • Once the cupcakes have finished baking and cooled, the recipe asked you to hollow out a section of the cupcake to fill with Nutella. I've written a tutorial on how to do so here

  • Specifically for the chocolate hazelnut buttercream frosting: the longer you beat the frosting, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.

  • Again, to ensure consistency, I like to use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to measure out 1 tablespoon of frosting for each cupcake.

  • Frost your cupcakes immediately after you have made the frosting. If you let the frosting sit out too long, it will start to crust and you will have a hard time frosting your cupcakes. however, make sure your cupcakes are cooled completely before frosting, otherwise they will get soggy.

  • When eating your cupcake, do not panic if you cannot see the dollop of Nutella in the cake! The cake will absorb the Nutella over time.



  1. Mmm, Nutella squared -- in both the cake and the frosting. It's a Nutella lover's dream treat. ;)

  2. these look delicious! definitely adding to the list of baking this weekend. thanks for sharing! :)

    1. Thanks so much H! Also I love your blog. It's very pretty.

  3. I've tried hummingbird's cream cheese frosting and it was way tooooo sweet. Is this as sweet? ):

    1. Oof, if you're not a big fan of hummingbird's cream cheese frosting, I'm not sure you'd like these cupcakes. The chocolate buttercream frosting in the recipe has Nutella in it, so it gets a little intense...

  4. The cupcakes are so pretty! Can you tell me what those little chocolate decorations are?


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