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Nutella-Swirled Vanilla Cupcakes with Crushed Peppermint, and a Blogiversary

  It started with a scone, a purple scone.  After years of caramel corn, cupcakes, cookies, and the like...I decided I should probably start documenting the crazy things I was turning out.

  Somehow, that turned into becoming somewhat internet savvy, buying a new camera, then a new lens, spending $20 on fabric and little baskets, turning down offers of hanging out to write a blog post, and swatting away eager hands because nothing could be eaten until pictures had been taken.

  Somehow, a year later, Indigo Scones is still standing, and standing tall.

  Those last couple paragraphs would be really inspirational, and this entire post would be pretty darn cool if it weren't for the fact that today isn't actually my blogiversary.

  Um, what?


  This past Sunday, 12/16/12, was the official day.  You know what I did?  I forgot.  I'm doing well just to remember the days of the week, and somehow the significance of December 16th slipped past me.  I went ahead with the Sundays with Joy schedule and threw together a post about hot cocoa.

  When I finally realized this a couple days ago, I was mortified.  But then...I had to laugh.  I'd spent months dreaming up my first blogiversary post.  An improved scone recipe, maybe a giveaway, just the right words...it was gonna be rad.  And then, I just got swept up into the busy rhythm of December, and brainlessly put up a post about hot chocolate.  Really?

  I only have myself to blame.  Who decides to start up a blog 9 days before Christmas?  Did I seriously have that much free time last year?

  I guess.  Apparently, being bored has its perks.  Like starting up a blog that forever changes the way you look at food, the internet, and recipes.  Or whatever.

  I reread my first post, and rediscovered the nonchalant way I dove into this whole blogging thing.  I semi-knew what I was getting into, and I was ready to tackle it, but not without a sense of humor.  Laughing at yourself is so much healthier than self-deprecation. 

  So, let's forgive, and laugh.  And I'll write December 16 on my forehead until next year rolls around.

  Alright, I'm feeling much better after that little confession.  Now let's talk for real.

  Indigo Scones currently has 115 posts, 241 facebook fans, 45 google followers, 59 RSS subscribers, 196 pinterest followers, and 106 followers on twitter.

  I don't care how you judge those numbers, all I know is that I'm still in awe of the fact that anyone reads this thing at all.  Honestly, when I started, I wasn't expecting much.  I just needed an outlet, and blogging seemed like the perfect place to blurt out some of the ideas boiling up inside me.

  What I'm trying to say is, thank you.  Thank you for putting up with the inconsistent postings, for the sweet messages, tweets, and comments, for liking my pictures, for the encouragement when I put up the inevitable downer post, for just for plain ol' sitting here and reading the words I throw onto the screen, and for forgiving me when I forget my own stinkin' blogiversary.  Thanks for coming back.  You've made this a special place for me.

  I've grown in many ways since I started out, and numbers are one of them!  For funsies, here are the top 10 posts of Indigo Scones, made possible by your page views.  Most bloggers (who, you know, stick to the unofficial rules of blog posting) do this around New Year's anyway.

  Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies.  My number one post couldn't go to a more deserving cookie.

  Baked Nutella Doughnuts.  You people like your Nutella!  And apparently I do as well...

  Chocolate Rolo Cookies.  Duh.

  Cookies and Cream Cupcakes.  Pretty much all of my favorite things ever, in one cupcake.

  Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Cloud Frosting.  Not a surprise, considering the fact the words "Nutella Cloud" were used.  Frosting look familiar?  Scroll up a bit.  It's darned good with crushed candy canes.  More on that soon!

  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake.  For the ultimate birthday.

  Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies.  Yes.  Just yes.

  Sweet & Salty Guinness Chocolate Marshmallow Pie.  I'm inordinately happy that you guys liked this one, it deserves a bit of spotlight!

  Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Whoopie Pies.  Beautiful, delicious, and just everything.

  Chocolate Cherry Nutella Fudge Pops.  These made hot days bearable, and delicious.

  These guys didn't make the top ten, but the top ten exists because of this blog's humble origin, Blackberry Lemon Scones.  AKA Indigo Scones.

  This post has gotten to be beastly long, so I do apologize if you're a newcomer.  Please don't run away, I'm finally going to talk about the cupcakes that made you come here in the first place.

  When I discovered that I was days late for a blogiversary post, I panicked.  I was working away prime photo-taking daylight hours, we were out of some essential baking groceries (nutella, duh), and I had no time to develop the perfect scone recipe.  Then, I remembered that since it's, you know, almost Christmas, something seasonal might be a good idea.

  I actually received a request a while back for a holiday cupcake along the lines of a nutella-swirled vanilla cake topped with nutella frosting and crushed candy canes.  I loved the idea when it was proposed, so I finally set to throwing together a recipe.

  The first cupcake recipe I tried was a total flop.  I don't even want to talk about it.  That alone set me back another day, and ate up my precious nutella supply and pretty cupcake liners.

  I ended up pulling this cake from the archives, and developing a successful way to swirl nutella into the batter.  After that, it was a total no-brainer. 

  Fluffy (and I mean reallyyy fluffy) vanilla cake swirled with nutella, topped with an equally fluffy frosting, and then all that fluffiness is complemented by the refreshing crunch of peppermint candy.  The finished product is a very humble cake, that only wants to make you happy.  In that way, I think it mirrored my blog pretty well.

  Merry Almost Christmas friends, and thanks for bearing with me throughout this novel.

  Make life indigo.

Nutella-Swirled Vanilla Cupcakes with Crushed Peppermint
Yield: 18-20 cupcakes

Ingredients for the Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6-8 tablespoons Nutella
*To halve an egg, crack into a bowl or measuring cup, lightly beat together, then simply measure out half.

Ingredients for the frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) 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
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • pinch of salt
  • Crushed peppermint candy

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with liners, and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.  Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Place your Nutella in a microwavable bowl, and microwave until it's smooth and less stiff, but not too runny (about 15 seconds).  Place a generous teaspoonful on top of the batter, and use a toothpick to swirl the mixture around the top, being careful not to over-swirl and totally combine the two.     

Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  

To make the frosting, in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar 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 salt, and beat on med-high speed for another minute.  If too thick, you can add small increments of additional milk and blend until smooth (Although I personally have never had to do this.).

To decorate the cupcakes as pictured in the photo, fit a large star 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 decorations.  Sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy* (I also used some coarse sugar, for additional sparkle).  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

*Note that when stored in the fridge for long periods of time, the peppermint candy will began to melt down.  For best results, garnish just before serving, or don't keep in the fridge for too long.

Sources: cupcake adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from Confections of a Foodie Bride, frosting
adapted from Sweetapolita