I grew up spending the day after Thanksgiving at the Christmas tree farm, picking out the tallest, fullest tree that my siblings and I could talk our parents in to buying. Times have changed (no Christmas tree farms here), so Frank and I use the post-Thanksgiving days to deck out our scrawny plastic tree, and I do enough baking to fill the apartment with holiday cheer. This weekend I roasted a chicken and popped these cupcakes in the oven, which nearly could had me convinced that it could be snowing outside…if I closed my eyes and had the air conditioning on high.
I knew I wanted to re-visit this sweet frosting for the weekend’s round of baking. It is one of my favorite ways to top cupcakes and is also one of the most searched recipes on this blog. The original Nutella frosting is light and fluffy. This Nutella Frosting 2.0 is rich and creamy, thanks to the addition of cream cheese and a bit of cocoa powder to amp up the chocolate-hazelnut flavor. As in the original, in tasting this frosting, there is no doubt that Nutella is the star ingredient.
I’m still somewhat distracted by the fact that it has been two years since Frank and I arrived in Bangkok. We arrived those years ago a little overwhelmed, and quite inundated by the heat. We were excited, nervous, and uncertain about what the future would hold. If I could sit down with that Jess in her first days in Thailand, I would have lots to say. I would tell her that this would be the adventure of a lifetime. I would assure her every day she would grow more in love with the man she chose to spend her life with. I’d tell her that she would be so grateful to have him by her side in this place, particularly since he would calm her when tropical critters snuck into the house and encourage her, without reservation, to try something completely new.
I would make that Jess vanilla cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting, tell her to take a deep breath, and enjoy the ride.
Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature (use block cream cheese, not cream cheese in a tub which includes added ingredients that can ruin the texture of the frosting)
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar (1 cup powdered sugar = 120g)
- 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/2 cup (155g.) Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread
- 1-4 Tbsp Milk, any type
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the beater attachment, combine the cream cheese and unsalted butter. Beat on high until smooth and light, about 5 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the bowl and mix on low until fully incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat again until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the Nutella and mix on low, just until combined (do not overmix or the frosting will become grainy). Add milk a bit at a time, starting with 1 Tbsp and increasing as needed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. (If refrigerated, allow the frosting to soften a bit at room temperature before using.)