1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts (filberts)
1 recipe Vanilla-Hazelnut Buttercream
1 recipe Caramelized Sugar Drizzle
Grated whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg (optional)
1. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and flour twenty-four 2-1/2-inch muffin cups (or line with paper bake cups). In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until combined. Scrape sides of bowl; beat for 2 minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in liqueur and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in nuts.
3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.
4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.
5. Spread Vanilla-Hazelnut Buttercream onto tops of cupcakes. Quickly drizzle with Caramelized Sugar Drizzle. If desired, sprinkle with nutmeg. Makes 24 (2-1/2 inch) cupcakes.
Vanilla-Hazelnut Buttercream: Allow 1/3 cup butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in 2 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually beat in 3 cups additional powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk (3 to 4 teaspoons) until buttercream reaches a spreading consistency. Makes 2 cups.
Caramelized Sugar Drizzle: In a large skillet cook 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until sugar starts to melt, shaking skillet occasionally. Do not stir. When sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes or until all of the sugar is melted, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Immediately drizzle over frosted cupcakes.