Cookbook Club: Frosted
Venture beyond basic buttercream with author Bernice Baran and make her Hazelnut Mocha Cupcakes from the book.
Nurse-turned-baking blogger and mother of two, Bernice Baran explores the various types of buttercream, meringues, ganaches, and more in her new book, Frosted. With a curiosity for the science of baking and motivated by a major sweet tooth, Bernice started baking after shift and documenting her discoveries on her blog, Baran Bakery.
Wondering if there is more to frosting than cloying American buttercream? Allow Bernice to introduce you to a whole new world of silky, smooth, and scrumptious toppings. In her book, she breaks down over a dozen base recipes for tangy cream cheese, luscious Diplomat cream, rich French buttercream and more.
Frustrated by broken emulsions and soupy Swiss meringue? Bernice has your back! Not only is she here to teach you the nuances between different types of buttercream, she’s paired each with recipes for cakes, cookies, and pastries! Imagine Churro Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Russian Buttercream, Cookie Butter Chocolate Cake with German Buttercream, Bavarian Cream-filled Chocolate Brioche Donuts, and of course, these Hazelnut Mocha Cupcakes.
Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Bernice Baran: Over the years I noticed that many people, including myself, are picky with frosting. Frosting needs to be not too sweet, not too buttery, perfectly light and fluffy and full of flavor. I think it sounds easier than it actually is because, generally, frosting is not very forgiving. Frosting can easily break, ruining it’s beautiful silky texture so it’s hard for people to customize their own recipes. My goal for Frosted is to make the world aware of all the different types of frosting and how to customize them so everyone finds their perfect balance when icing their cakes.
TH: Which recipe should readers try first? Or which has become a stand-out recipe with readers so far?
BB: Chocolate hazelnut cupcakes, chocolate cookie butter layer cake and brownie caramel cake were some of the biggest hits; anything chocolate basically!
TH: Can you name a must-have ingredient or signature flavor that you use in your recipes often? Or do you think there is special quality about your recipes or writing that readers can identify as being uniquely yours?
BB: Caramel! I could drizzle homemade salted caramel sauce on anything and everything. I use it in the book often and I had to take some of them out so that not every recipe was smothered in caramel.
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
BB: Cravings. Lol, I usually bake what I'm feeling in the moment and some of my inspiration comes from what I want the bake to look like.
TH: Walk into a reader’s home and where can you find your book? Displayed on a coffee table, next to the bed for late-night studying, or splattered with batter in the kitchen? What is the main takeaway you want readers to get from your book?
BB: Probably splattered with batter in the kitchen. I wrote this book to give people a foundation in frosting so that they can actually try them and experiment with their own flavor combinations.
TH: What is one important key to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
BB: If you've never made the recipe before and don't have a solid understanding of the science of baking, make the recipe exactly as directed before customizing it at all.
Hazelnut Mocha Cupcakes
“Admittedly, I get stuck in my own frosting ruts from time to time. This Hazelnut Mocha Italian Meringue Buttercream reminded me just how silky, flavorful, yet not-so-sweet buttercream can be. Just ask Brett and the kids - these cupcakes didn’t stand a chance in our house. I can’t wait to experiment with more of Bernice’s recipes!” - Tessa Huff
Makes 14 cupcakes
1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (40 g) Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup (120 ml) canola oil
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
¾ cup (180 ml) brewed coffee, room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with 14 cupcake liners and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
In a larger mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil until smooth. Add in the vanilla and mix in the coffee until well combined.
Tip the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and stir until well combined.
Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake liners - filling them no more than 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 16 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into their centers comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Completely cool the cupcakes before frosting.
Hazelnut Mocha Italian Meringue Buttercream
1 batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream (recipe to follow)
2 tsp (4 g) espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
½ cup (150 g) chocolate hazelnut spread (Like Nutella)
¼ cup (20 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
Make a batch of Italian Meringue Buttercream (recipe to follow). Add the dissolved espresso powder, chocolate hazelnut spread, and cocoa powder. With the mixer on low speed, mix until the cocoa powder is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until smooth and silky.
Once the cupcakes are completely cool, pipe the hazelnut mocha buttercream on top of the cupcakes. Decorate with toasted hazelnuts, if desired.
Italian Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
½ cup (100 g) + ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar, divided
3 tbsp (45 ml) water
1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
⅛ tsp salt
Place the egg whites and 1/4 cup (50 g) of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the mixture on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar and water in a saucepan. Place it over high heat and bring the sugar mixture to a boil, not stirring. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.
Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and slowly (and carefully!) pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg mixture. Bump the mixer up to high speed and continue to mix until the meringue is fully cooled and holds stiff peaks, about 8. minutes.
Lower the speed of the mixer to medium and add in the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Continue to mix the buttercream until the butter is fully combined into the buttercream, about 5 minutes.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Switch the whisk for the paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed until silky smooth. Add the salt and mix until combined.