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A Cupcake for Avery (Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting)

  I have a bittersweet post for you today.  A few days ago, a little baby girl named Avery Canahauti "lost" her battle with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy).  This is, as of right now, an incurable disease, and is the number one genetic killer of infants under age two.

  I say "lost" up there, but even though Avery has passed away, her name and memory continue to live on and fight for the cure to SMA.  What is SMA?  It is an inherited disease that attacks the muscles, which causes inefficiency of the major bodily organs (especially those of the respiratory system) and eventually leads to death.  Avery had under 18 months, and passed away just under 6.

  Avery was diagnosed at four months old, and when her parents discovered how little time they had, they started up a blog, twitter, and facebook to mark each short, but sweet milestone of her life.  They created a bucket list for her.  And in the few months they got to keep her, they attracted much attention, and raised so much awareness of this disease.

  Samantha of Sweet & Salty Life started A Cake for Avery, where food bloggers share Avery's story, the disease, and bake one of their favorite cakes in honor of what would've been her six month birthday today. 

  So, I have a cupcake for Avery.  If there are clouds in heaven, they must be made of nutella.  This is a simple cupcake, but don't be deceived.  The base is super moist, dark, and packs in a whole lot of chocolate.

  And the frosting?  Well, um, it's Nutella Cloud Frosting.  What more do you want me to say?  Ok, well, you can (for whatever odd reason) subtract the nutella for a perfectly adequate chocolate frosting.  But...I don't highly recommend it.  Unless you have allergies, then you're excused.  I'm sorry.

  You can check out the pages I linked to above for more info on SMA and how you can help raise awareness.

  Happy birthday, Avery, rest in peace.  Love and comfort to those she left behind.

"We can let the world change us, or we can change the world."
-Michael Canahuati, Avery's Dad

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting
Yield: about 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, but cool
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (about 4 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/3 cup Nutella (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkles, if desired

Preheat oven to 350° F and line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, dark cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Fit the electric mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed to combine all ingredients.  Add the buttermilk, coffee, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla to bowl with the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Pour into prepared liners until 2/3 full (or just less).  Batter will be liquid-y, and cupcakes will rise.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to overbake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool. 

To make the frosting, in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the powdered sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add vanilla, and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Add the Nutella, milk, and pinch of salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.  If too thick, you can add small increments of more milk and blend until smooth.

To decorate the cupcakes as pictured in the photo, fit a large, plain pastry tip into a pastry bag.  Pipe a swirl onto the cupcake.  Using the back of a small spoon,  put slight pressure on the top swirl then pull your hand up and away.  This creates a classic look, and a well for the sprinkles.  Pour in sprinkles, if desired.  Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Sources: adapted from Sweetapolita